Best Mobile Phone for Urban Survival

You need a network to survive

Imagine there was a flagship phone that was both rugged and long lasting?

You’d be interested, right?

What if this phone was built to military standards for shock, sand, water resistance, and vibration?

And what if this phone lasted 25% longer than other flagship phones?

Well, this phone is real and I’m going to tell you all about it and where the best place to buy one is.

Go the section below that interests you.

Joy of Use
Other Notable Features (screen, camera, radio, etc)

You need a phone to survive in the City

In the city, your mobile phone is your lifeline. It connects you to the network of all the important people in your life. In fact, your cell phone is the most important survival item you possess. What about cash? Countries such as China and Sweden are moving away from cash, due to the ubiquity of smartphones which can buy and store electronic money, just like the banks do. Of course, there are times when paper money or even gold is king, but for over 99.9 percent of urban circumstances- your phone is your best survival tool. But which is the Best Mobile Phone for Urban Survival?

Click picture to see the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active on Amazon.

Top personal phones need to offer you a pleasant user experience, take care of your everyday needs in style (this is city-life after all), handle daily abuse of dust, water, and drops and they need long battery lives. While there are mil-spec phones that are as tough as bricks, they also tend to look like bricks and are not very popular. Other phones have huge batteries but can they handle the tough situations faced by the urbanite? In the end, we are looking for the sweet spot of joy, style, toughness, and longevity. After much research and discussion, the consensus for the best mobile phone is the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active.

Before reading my review, you can watch a video review of the S8 Active by Jared from JD TechWorkz:

Joy of Use urban survival

Japanese organizing expert, Marie Kondo, in her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” suggests that we get rid of everything in our lives that either isn’t necessary or doesn’t bring you joy. Applying this to urbane survival, we can see that a rugged, long-lasting cell phone is a necessity more than a joy. Nevertheless, for us survivor types, there is a joy in knowing that our phones can take abuse and keep on working. One of the joys of having a tough phone are the scratches, scars, and dents you can show off to your friends while regaling them with stories of phone abuse that would decommission lesser phones. We don’t have to baby our communication lifeline or worry where our next charge is coming from. The phone itself is not and should not be a thing of joy. The joy comes from doing what we want without being limited by our mobile phones. On this basis, the S8 Active is, while not an item of pure joy, a facilitator of joy.


A very dirty S8 Active

The S8 Active in often considered the dowdy sister of the Samsung Galaxy line by tech reviewers. They would prefer a phone made of brushed titanium spiderwebs, light and airy, even though it stops working a week after the review. The S8 Active instead chooses solid function over fragile form, abandoning the delicately curved screen for a less-shatterable flat screen with noticeable bevels on the sides. Style vs durability is a difficult trade-off. Many people put their svelte, style-praised phones in protective cases, utterly defeating the purpose of the expensive design. If you are the kind of person who puts their phone in a protective case, you are exactly the kind of person who should simply buy the S8 Active which also has a bigger battery than most flagship phones.

Ruggedness mil spec

Samsung has made the most rugged mainstream phone available on the market. One customer said that his wife had broken 12 phones over the past year! But after he and his wife both bought S8 Actives, they hadn’t broken any.

Here are the pertinent specs:

  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5 – the best screen material, but you should still put a screen protector on it
  • Aluminum frame, corner bumpers, plastic back – it’s not glass on glass, so it’s good for drops on flat surfaces at heights up to five feet
  • IP68 certified – dust/waterproof (up to 1.5m for 30 mins) – enough dust and water protection for city life
  • MIL-STD-810G compliant – this is a military standard that certifies the phone is designed to withstand high altitude, extreme temperatures, salt, sand, fungus! fog, and various kinds of vibration including gunfire vibration


One of the most important advantages of the S8 Active is that it has a Li-Ion 4000 mAh battery (which is unfortunately non-removable). This means that you will get more up-time on your mobile phone between charges. You could buy a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S9 and put a case on it, but you will still be underpowered in the battery department. That is because the standard S8 and S9 only have 3000 mAh
batteries. So, although battery life is dependent on personal usage and settings, the S8 Active will clearly serve you longer. For many people, this advantage alone is why they buy this phone.

Other Notable Features 

1.  Screen

Type: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors

Size: 5.8 inches, 85.4 cm2 (~75.0% screen-to-body ratio)

Resolution: 1440 x 2960 pixels, 18.5:9 ratio (~568 ppi density)

Comment: This is S8 quality, but flat instead of curved,

Taken with Samsung S8 Active

The photo was taken with an S8 Active phone.


Primary: 12 MP (f/1.7, 26mm, 1/2.5″, 1.4 µm, Dual Pixel PDAF), phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash

Features: Geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video, and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panorama

Video: 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@240fps, HDR, dual-video rec.

Secondary: 8 MP (f/1.7, 25mm, 1/3.6″, 1.22 µm), autofocus, 1440p@30fps, dual video call, Auto HDR

Comment: Again, S8 quality, but newer S9 cameras are rated better

3. FM Radio

S8 Active does have an FM tuner (which does not rely on cellular or WiFi). This can be useful in some emergency situations as long as you have earphones to function as an antenna.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active hits the sweet spot of Urban Survival

So, there you have it. The S8 Active while not the champion in any one feature is the most rugged, long-lasting flagship cellular phone that you can buy today. If I were in the market for a new phone, this would be my number one choice.

It may be superseded by the S9 Active due in May/June 2018 but it will only be available to Verizon US customers initially. Actually, the advancement in tech is not that great between the S8 and S9 Samsung generations and may not be worth waiting for. Why not buy an unlocked S8 Active on Amazon, today?

Well, that’s what I think. Now it’s your turn to comment.

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2 Responses

  1. Stefan says:

    Hi, this is a great description of what an urban survivor mobile phone needs to comply with.

    I also think a long battery lasting time would be important for me.

    Due to moving from one place to another all day long I often forget to charge the batteries and even forget the charger at home.

    The S8 Active seems to be very robust as well. Running around and sometimes sitting on my device is normal for me.

    Thanks, I’ll check out the buying options on your site.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, no buying option set up yet. Hopefully, next week. Personally, I would start with Amazon, then Ebay for unlocked phones.

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