Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro: Durability for Tough Work Stations

eWEEK PRODUCT TEST AND REVIEW: The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is made to be dropped; in fact, I think it likes being dropped. A big advantage is this: It doesn’t look or feel like one of those bulky, heavy, “rugged” phones you would use out on an oil rig; it looks like a regular business or personal phone that you’d be comfortable showing off to a friend.

Samsung.XCoverPro

Have you ever dropped your phone, winced and felt the pain as it hit the sidewalk? Either the screen splintered like a windshield being hit by a rock or the body broke into pieces upon impact. Remember those cheapie phones from about 12 years ago that shattered into nothingness if they inadvertently slipped from your hand? Glad those aren’t around any longer.

Well, if you had been holding a Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro instead of one of those others, you’d need not worry. This phone is made to be dropped; in fact, I think it likes being dropped. A big advantage is this: It doesn’t look or feel like one of those bulky, heavy, “rugged” phones you would use out on an oil rig; it looks like a regular business or personal phone that you’d be comfortable showing off to a friend.

I have been using an XCover Pro as my go-to smartphone for a couple of months. I don’t make a habit of dropping phones, but if I did drop this one, I feel I’d be OK with it. These are fortified just well enough to put your mind at ease at all times. You can drop one into water, and it will keep on working. A kid could drive over one with a bike, and it’ll be OK. It might even be able to survive being dropped in a campfire, although I don’t know that for sure. And, no, I’m not going to do that test. 

You can’t have those things happen to an iPhone or most other devices, that’s for sure. With the XCover Pro, you have a fighting chance of surviving these mishaps and have the phone live to see another day.

Yes, the Galaxy XCover Pro can take a beating. This phone is dust- and water-resistant and proudly sports an IP68 rating. Devices backed by an international standard rating of IP68 are deemed fit to withstand dust, dirt and sand, and are resistant to submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5 meters underwater for up to 30 minutes. The phone can be cleaned under running water, if need be. Naturally, you should avoid these things with a standard smartphone. Thus, you can use the XCover Pro basically anywhere in the world you can get a signal, no matter what environment you happen to be in.

Processing

The Exynos 9611 processor isn’t the biggest engine in the garage, and perhaps the most notable drawback of the XCover Pro is its 4GB of RAM. If you’re doing most routine business duties, such as email, texting, word document creation, net surfing, social networking and so forth, you’ll be fine with this. However, if you’re planning to use heavier business apps—such as network portals, spreadsheets, accounting apps, analytics tools, creative apps—I wouldn’t recommend it. For those, you need 8GB to 12GB of RAM at minimum; otherwise, you’ll be spending too much time watching arrows spin around as the app tries to get functioning.

I read a review of the XCover that claimed the phone was slowing down with each passing week. Although I didn’t experience that problem—and it IS a problem when it happens—the 4GB memory can cause that issue. It’s not unlike a 4-cylinder engine in a car; it’s fine for running around town and for traveling on flat surfaces for long distances, but as soon as you need power to go up a steep grade, forget it. We had a Toyota van years ago with a 4-cylinder power plant, and it could only hit 50 mph tops going up a mountain grade. Very frustrating, and I wouldn’t buy that type of vehicle again. Sometimes you just need a little extra power in the plant to help you get over a spike in your work. 

Power Source

The XCover Pro has a battery purported to last six to eight hours of continuous heavy usage. I only had to charge the phone up once every two days or so, because I don’t use that phone to that extent. The backside of the device is made of heavy plastic and can be removed, so it’s possible to swap the battery without taking it to the Samsung store. The battery can be revved up using either a quick charger or a wireless charger. Overall, good ratings on battery life.

Security

The XCover Pro has good biometric software: face recognition, a fingerprint scanner and Samsung Pass for protection. You can encrypt or decrypt the SD card. It carries a special secure folder for top-secret files, so if you work for the CIA, that’s a good thing.

It also features the manufacturer’s standard Knox (as in Fort Knox) security system, and that’s a respected process that provides a distinct advantage. The mobile device management solutions of Samsung (and third parties) can completely secure this device and ensure that it is only usable for working with business applications. Encryption can also be applied, and the device can be managed remotely.

Push-to-Talk Integration

In a recent development, ESChat announced that it has integrated its Push-to-Talk (PTT) solution into the Galaxy XCover Pro. Now, users on carrier and enterprise LTE networks can take advantage of XCover Pro’s dedicated PTT buttons and have access to secure communication.

For remote areas where communication is still a priority, users can deploy Samsung’s XCover Pro with the ESChat package to access Samsung’s Enterprise LTE network solutions and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) frequency band. More details are available here.

Specific Use Cases Best for Galaxy XCover Pro

For workers in construction or the hospitality industry, the XCover Pro can be a very workable device. Project managers at a construction site or a floor manager at a hotel, for two examples, might find the XCover a good choice for their staff. They also get the benefits from its toughness and water resistance.

Cameras

The Galaxy XCover Pro has three cameras, two on the back and one on the front. The camera isn’t designed to be a tool for creatives; it can take basic pictures. It’s aimed to be used to take work-related photos; better to use a higher-end smartphone for sunsets, vacations and family photos you want to keep.

Configurable Buttons

The Galaxy XCover features additional physical buttons on both sides that users can configure with Samsung’s software. For example, you can choose to use a button for a walkie-talkie function or to launch a particular app quickly. In certain situations, this can improve the efficiency of a work process quite a bit, something that can be very useful in the earlier mentioned scenarios.

Summary

The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is not designed as a replacement for a high-end device. It is aimed at a specific use case, valuable for people working in sectors where sturdiness and durability are important. 

It would be cool to see Samsung issue a high-end smartphone in an XCover version, one more able to take a drop to the sidewalk or in the toilet and come away unscathed.

Pricing

You get what you pay for, generally. The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro, with prices ranging from $425 to $568, generally costs about half of a high-end iPhone or other Galaxy smartphone. That’s a huge consideration, especially if a company is buying a fleet of them.

Specifications

Product Name: Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro
Screen Size: 6.3″
Broadband Generation: 4G
Cellular Network: CDMA, GSM
Connector Type: Headphone jack
Features: Quad-band, smartphone, unlocked, water resistant, fast charging
RAM: 4GB
Security: Fingerprint scanner
SIM Slots: Dual SIM
Front Camera Resolution: 13 MP
Operating System: Android 10
Rear Camera Resolution: 25 MP
Display Resolution: 2,340 x 1,080
Storage Capacity: 32GB, 49GB, 64GB, 512GB
Weight: 7.69 ounces

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...