Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro Review: Rugged With Push To Talk
Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro: Rugged And Ready To Work
Samsung's line of Galaxy handsets hardly need an introduction. By now, even casual smartphone shoppers are familiar with the Galaxy brand, which spans top-of-the-line flagships like the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20, to much more affordable options like the Galaxy A and Galaxy 5G. And of course there is the innovative Galaxy Z Fold 2. But one Galaxy handset you may not have heard of before is the Galaxy XCover Pro. So, what exactly is it?
The Galaxy XCover Pro is a bit of a different beast in the Galaxy family, designed specifically for working environments and job sites, including healthcare settings, manufacturing facilities, retail shops, and so forth. That's to say, the Galaxy XCover Pro is not intended for the typical home consumer, who already has an assortment of Galaxy smartphones to choose from at various price points. This also means the Galaxy XCover Pro brings with it a different set of features and priorities than your typical smartphone.
To start with, the Galaxy XCover Pro is not a handset that is going to duke it out with a flagship phone in benchmarks. That does not mean it is an uninspired phone, nor is it unsightly. In fact, it mostly resembles a 'regular' smartphone in many ways, but with a more rugged exterior. However, even though it is durable, Samsung manages to keep the bulk to a minimum. At first glance, you could even mistake the Galaxy XCover Pro for a typical Galaxy phone housed in a relatively sleek case.
In that sense, it is also somewhat of an unassuming phone. Without the bulk and heft that are normally traits of a rugged handset, the Galaxy XCover Pro could easily be mistaken for another fragile phone. But in addition to IP68-rated dust and water resistance—an increasingly common certification on today's phones in general—it is MIL-STD-810G compliant and rated to survive drops of up to 1.5 meters (around 4.9 feet). This type of military grade durability makes it more suitable for harsh or otherwise challenging environments, without the need to handle it with kid gloves.
Should you consider it, though? Let's get into the thick of things...
Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro Hardware And Design
What is arguably this phone's greatest achievement is maintaining a relatively svelte profile while being more durable than most handsets. It measures 159.9 x 76.7 x 9.94 mm (6.3 x 3.0 x 0.4 inches) and weighs 218 grams (7.69 ounces). As a point of reference, Apple's iPhone 11 Pro Max measures 158 x 77.8 x 0.32 mm (6.22 x 3.06 x 0.32 inches) and checks in at 226 grams (7.97 ounces). So the Galaxy XCover Pro is a tad thicker, but lighter than Apple's top smartphone.
Adding a case to the mix can further level the playing field. This editor's daily driver is an iPhone XS Max housed in a Mous Clarity case. Next to that, the Galaxy XCover Pro is a slimmer handset. It is also comfortable in the hands. Not that your typical smartphone is uncomfortable, but the textured plastic backing both feels pleasant in the hands and offers more friction to prevent an otherwise slippery phone from squirting out like a wet bar of soap.
And sure, there is plenty of plastic in the construction here, but the Galaxy XCover Pro does not look or feel cheap. Samsung did an admirable job balancing modern aesthetics with a semi-rugged design. Other notable elements here include rounded corners and an ever-so-slightly raised lip around the entirety of the display, to protect it against drops. It's only a small protrusion, though, so if you manage to drop it face-down, hopefully it's on an even surface.
What is also unique about this phone is the ability to pry off the back cover to access the removable 4,050mAh battery pack. That's right, the Galaxy XCover Pro kicks it old school with a swappable battery. There is a little section in the upper-right to stick your fingernail (or an object) into, and it pops off rather easily. Removable batteries are few and far between these days, and are especially rare on rugged smartphones. It is also a handy feature when working in out in the field, far removed from an outlet, as you can bring along a spare battery pack.
Let's have a look at some key specifications...
|Samsung Exynos 9611 octa-core SoC (quad 2.3GHz + quad 1.7GHz)
|6.3-inch FHD+ TFT (2340x1080 resolution), Gorilla Glass 5
|64GB (expandable to 512GB w/ microSD)
|25MP (f/1.2), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.2), dual LED flash
|1080p @ 30fps
|Android 10 w/ One UI 2.0
|159.9 x 76.7 x 9.94 mm
|802.11a/b/g/n/na (2.4/5GHz), Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, GPS, NFC, LTE
|Find Samsung's XCover Pro @ Amazon, Starting at $499.99)
At a glance, this is a decidedly mid-range handset, powered by Samsung's own Exynos 9611 SoC (same as found in the Galaxy A51). It is an octa-core part consisting of four high-performance Cortex-A73 cores clocked at up 2.3GHz and four power-efficient Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.7GHz. Respectable, though this is definitely not a chip that is going to blow the barn doors off any benchmarks, as we will get to in a bit.
A modest 4GB of RAM flanks the SoC, as does 64GB of built-in storage. You can expand this up to 512GB by way of a microSD card slot. None of this is eye-popping by any stretch, but hey, neither is the price, which is half of what many flagship phones cost.
It bears repeating that the focus on the Galaxy XCover Pro is different from a standard consumer phone. Part of that entails additional buttons not found on other phones. The button on the left has been dubbed a programmable XCover key and it works with Verizon's Push To Talk Plus (PTT+) function.
Over on the right is a programmable side key that can be configured to launch the camera, initiate Bixby, or link to an app (it can also serve multiple functions by single or double tapping). And up top is another programmable key, also with dual functions (single press or press and hold). Out of the box, the top key is configured to toggle the flashlight.
These buttons give the Galaxy XCover Pro more utility than a standard handset, particularly in work environments where they can be tailored to point-of-sale operations and things of that nature.
Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro Display Quality
The XCover Pro wields a 6.3-inch screen with 2340x1080 resolution and 60Hz refresh rate, protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 5. However, this is not the usual premium AMOLED panel that we are accustomed to on Galaxy handsets (higher end ones, anyway). Presumably to keep costs down, Samsung is using a TFT screen here. It still looks very good overall, just not as vibrant as an OLED screen. We also noticed that it struggled a bit in direct sunlight, with lighter images, in our testing.
At 60Hz, the Galaxy XCover Pro bucks the trend towards faster refresh rates. But that is to be expected on a mid-range handset. For the most part, 90Hz and faster displays are becoming staples of top-tier smartphones. Furthermore, it is a less important amenity on a handset that is purpose-designed for job sites.
Samsung touts an edge-to-edge screen on the Galaxy XCover Pro, though it does have bezels on all four sides. They are not very thick, but there is some wasted screen real-estate. As for the front-facing camera, it resides in a punch-hole cutout in the upper-left corner.
The display can accommodate touch input in wet conditions and even when wearing gloves, through a setting that increases the touch sensitivity. There is also an optional one-handed mode, another convenience that could come in handy in certain work settings.
Now let's have a look at the Galaxy XCover Pro's cameras and software...