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The best smartphones for the beach

business Updated: Aug 17, 2013 11:37 IST


A selection of handsets that won't simply survive, but will positively thrive when at the beach.

Let's face it, our smartphones are so much a part of our lives that our palms are beginning to develop phone-shaped calluses in the same way that pen use once led to knobbly fingers. Therefore the thought of leaving them behind, or even simply in the hotel safe, during the summer break is impossible to consider. However, until now, seawater and sand have not exactly been the best environments for smartphones.

Sony Xperia ZR
This is by no means the only water- and dust-resistant Sony smartphone currently on sale, but, with a comparatively small 4.6-inch full HD display and a dedicated camera button, it is the easiest to use, especially with wet or slippery sunscreen-coated hands. As well as being a very capable Android handset with a great processor and full 4GLTE superfast mobile broadband compatibility, the ZR boasts some very serious camera kit -- full HD videos and 13-megapixel stills -- what's more it has a number of settings for underwater photography.

The ZR is small enough to use in one hand and has dedicated buttons for camera use. Photo: AFP

Although it's not advisable to take it on a scuba dive, the ZR can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 meters without any ill effects. The screen uses the same technology found in Sony's TVs which means it's easy to view even in direct sunlight, while its stamina technology shuts down apps automatically when not in active use to increase battery life.

Samsung Galaxy SIV Active
Designed for the great outdoors, the SIV Active should be as at home on a mountainside as it is on a long flight or a long day of sunbathing. Slightly bigger than the Sony due to its 5-inch screen but with a slightly inferior camera --although, like the Sony, it has special ‘aqua settings for underwater photography -- the Active does offer a number of interesting extras, such as a barometer and compass, and the display will respond to touch from a gloved hand.

Water- and dust-resistant, the GIV Active also has a host of apps for people who love the great outdoors. Photo: AFP

The phone has been rated as water-resistant for up to 30 minutes when submerged at a depth of 1 meter and, like the ZX, is also dust-resistant so that sand shouldn't find its way into the device's inner grooves, vents and internal workings.

Caterpillar CAT B15
Ok, this handset will not win any beauty contests and when lined up alongside the Sony and Samsung, some of its internal specs leave a lot to be desired too. However, the CAT is built to be tough and dependable, so tough in fact that it will not only survive a six-foot (1.8 m) fall onto concrete, it should bounce right back up thanks to its ruggedized, rubberized moldings that protect its already robust aluminum chassis.

The CAT is water-, dust- and shock-resistant and despite its reinforced frame is still small enough to slip into a pocket. Photo: AFP

Like the Sony and the Samsung it is also water and dust resistant, but unlike the others it will also respond to a touch or swipe from a wet hand. It runs Android 4.1, has a 5 megapixel camera and can shoot full HD video. And, despite its toughened frame should still slide easily into a trouser or jacket pocket.