Most of us have fairly comfortable lives and relatively ‘normal’ jobs, behind a desk or in other equally safe and somewhat boring environments. Some, though, work in more extreme environments, where the latest glass-front-and-back smartphone wouldn’t last five minutes, especially in tougher industrial conditions where even a rugged smartphone case might not be enough.

Panasonic have kind of pioneered in the ‘tough’ market, and they’ve got a couple of new Android devices that look as if they’re designed to withstand a nuclear blast. These might not be of much interest to the consumer, but if you’re in a business where unbreakable really needs to mean you can drive a tank over it, then check these out.

Panasonic FZ-X1 Rugged Handheld 5″ Toughpad


Panasonic’s FZ-X1 is designed to go to war. Alongside its Windows powered brother, the FZ-E1, this is a 5″ Android device designed to be used with heavy gloves on, in heavy rain, or in bright sunlight to fulfil a wide range of applications; Panasonic has case studies involving transport and logistics, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, aviation, police and emergency services and others. It’s impressive.

The FZ-X1 can be dropped up to 3 metres onto solid concrete, can be dropped into water up to 1.5m deep (it’s IP68 rated), and can operate in temperatures from -20º to 60º, thanks to an internal heater which can help keep the device alive in sub-zero temperatures. If it’s dust, impact, shock, vibration, altitude or humidity you face, worry not — the FZ-X1 won’t wither.

While it might only be Android 4.2.2 (which is a little dated), if toughness is what you’re after, compromises sometimes have to be made. Fortunately, there aren’t many; the FZ-X1 has a 6,220mAh battery, and it can be hot-swapped with spares without powering the device off. Try that with your Samsung.

If you’re feeling destructive, too bad. The FZ-X1 will take a 400g steel ball dropped onto the surface from 80cm, without damage. Other specifications, which aren’t quite so fascinating, include a HD 1280×720 LCD display, 10-point multi-touch that works with gloves, Snapdragon 600 chipset, 2GB RAM and 32GB on board storage.

Other integrated features include integrated barcode and magnetic stripe readers as build-to-order options. Panasonic will have the FZ-X1 available from Toughbook distributors early in the new year, starting at $2,449.

This might sound like a lot, but remember — this isn’t a toy, and it isn’t for listening to spotify while you sip your latte on your morning commute to work. When a phone comes inscribed with “Front Towards Enemy” on the back (we’re joking; it doesn’t but probably should), you know it’s designed for serious business.

FZ-B2 Android Toughpad

FZ-B2 Right Angle

The larger of the two new Android releases, the FZ-B2 is a 7″ Android tablet designed for demanding conditions. It features an Intel Celeron quad-core processor at 1.83GHz (no Snapdragons here), 2GB of RAM and 32GB of on-board storage. Battery life is quoted at 7 hours continuous use, and 2.5 hours to charge. Hot swappable batteries are also available for this unit.

As you might expect with a tablet, this is designed for slightly different applications; with both front and rear facing cameras (at 2MP and 5MP respectively), the FZ-B2 can be used for video conferencing in the field, and at 540g and only 18mm thick, you won’t put your back out trying to hold it either. There’s a full range of accessories and mounting options available, including card and barcode readers, vehicle options for emergency services, USB sockets and MicroSD slots too.

The FZ-B2 is designed for use in -10º to 50º environments, and is IP65 rated so it’ll do well in most environments, but it’s not quite so happy in water as its smaller brother. Unlike its smaller brother, though, it is available now starting at $1,599 from Panasonic Toughbook distributors and resellers.

I’m not entirely sure if Ausdroid really could do a review of either of these devices justice … but let us know if you’re interested, and we’ll see what we can do!

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John Batman

They are indeed man’s toys.

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