Smartphones can help journalists engage with their audiences through better storytelling. Nowadays many can ditch their Dictaphones and DSLR cameras in exchange for valuable tools and features built into smartphones. To gather all the trimmings for a juicy story, journalists often end up in challenging environments and unplanned situations.
Need assistance buying a smartphone for journalists? Our tech experts are here to help. Fill out our contact form and get expert advice today.
Here we’ve listed the top 10 smartphones ideal for assisting journalists in their research through less desirable conditions and environments.
Cat S62 Pro
One of the core functions of a journalist is to capture imagery to support their stories. And what makes the Cat S62 pro stand out from the other great phones listed here is it has an integrated thermal camera. The FLIR Lepton 3.5 sensor is currently the highest resolution and offers intense picture quality, even in complete darkness. The dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity lets you connect to a 5G network. The 6GB RAM and expandable 128GB ROM provide sufficient room for photos and video recordings.
It caters to a great user experience with a 5.7-inch FHD+ screen, an Android 11 processor for seamless multitasking, and an extended battery life of 4000mAh. The Cat S62 Pro protects data with fingerprint sensor security and has superior protection against damage with Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
- Gorilla Glass 6 protection
- Stunning picture clarity
- Fingerprint sensor
Rating: 5 Out of 5
We have given the Cat S62 Pro the number one spot for the ultimate journalist work phone as it covers everything required for the job. A great camera, Wi-Fi connection, and decent storage space for pictures and footage. A powerful CPU for quick responsiveness, a reliable battery, and the ability to carry on should it take a tumble or two.
Cat S42 H+
The Cat S42 H+ is ideally suited for the more hygiene-conscious journalist. The phone’s external components include antimicrobial silver ions for ISO 22196 Germ Defense and a rugged design of IP69/IP68 military-grade casing. It is dust, dirt, and sand resistant. In addition, this water and drop-proof smartphone offer protection against the challenging environments a journalist may find themselves in when researching a story.
Like the Cat S62 Pro, it has 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity and 5.0 Bluetooth. It has a 5.5-inch HD+ touchscreen responsive with gloves and sun glare proof. The 13-megapixel camera will capture detailed images and footage to help bring stories to life. Its 3GB RAM, expandable 32GB ROM, and Google Android 11 OS running on a 4200mAh battery offer reliable performance.
- Germ Defense casing (ISO22196)
- Tactile screen with gloves
- Sun glare-proof
- 3GB of RAM
Rating: 4.9 Out of 5
The Cat S42 H+ only missed the top spot due to the RAM size, which isn’t a huge issue. As they’re both ideal for journalism, however, we had to find something negative. Its offers germ defense, tactile use with gloves, sun glare resistance, and a rugged design. All required features for support in various environments and conditions.
The Sonim RS60 is a lightweight, ultra-durable, portable handheld computer with Smart Scanner. It operates on Android 10 and is powered by a fantastic 8000mAh removable battery. This mobile computer is engineered to handle challenging working environments with features for a user-friendly experience. There’s no need to worry about inevitable drops or mishaps. No matter what the environment, it has the best-rugged certification for handheld devices. Therefore, it is drop, shock, dust, puncture, and pressure-proof, and will still work after spending 30 minutes in 6.5 feet of water. The 6-inch screen offers clear visibility in varying light conditions and tactile buttons with wet or gloved fingers. Journalists will love the autofocus feature on its dual front and rear cameras, offering 5MP and 13MP, respectively.
- Qualcomm MSM8953 Pro Octa-core 2.2GHz chipset CPU
- Built-in control panel
- Three built-in microphones
- It may be too bulky
- 4 GB RAM
Rating: 4.8 Out of 5
The Sonim RS60 scores a 4.6 primarily due to its bulkiness. However, the benefits are likely to overshadow this from a journalist’s perspective. It is highly responsive and robust with excellent battery life. The autofocus camera is helpful for discreetly taking pictures at a distance, the built-in microphones are great for interviewing, and the scanner is likely to come in handy during a journalist’s travels.
Samsung Galaxy S22
The S22 offers the best of both worlds. For high-quality images, it features a bright 6.1-inch dynamic AMOLED 2x FHD display, three camera lenses, 50 MP, 12 MP, and 10 MP. The adaptive 48Hz-120Hz refresh rate, 8GM RAM, and 128GB or 256GB ROM run with Snapdragon 8 Gen CPU and 5G connectivity, allowing access to real-time information.
A larger screen will support journalistic interaction with apps and playback footage before transferring. However, the size may be uncomfortable for some users. The S22 will need a protective case as it’s not shatterproof, and the battery life is 7 hours and 52 minutes. This shortfall is overcome by quick and easy wireless charging.
- Improved zoom and low-light photos
- Not shatterproof
- The battery life isn’t great
Rating: 4.7 Out of 5
The S22 has been rated 4.7 on our top ten for its reasonably priced premium features. It has a generously sized screen that journalists are likely to appreciate when on the move. Overall, it is a highly responsive phone, with a great camera and 5G connectivity.
LQ G8 ThinQ
The LQ G8 ThinQ is a standard rugged smartphone. The casing is made from type 5 Gorilla Glass in the front and type 6 at the back. It has a rugged level rating of IP68 for water and dust resistance. It’s also scratch and dent resistant. What’s more, the LQ G8 is great for taking high-resolution images, with 8MP and 12MP front and back lenses. In addition, it offers satisfactory performance running on Snapdragon 855 CPU, 6GB RAM, and extendable 128GM ROM. More than enough power to run and multitask between apps and take and store footage, pictures, and audio recordings.
- Excellent image color accuracy
- Bright 6.1-inch display
- Fast charging
- Non-removable 3500mAh battery
Rating: 4.6 Out of 5
Thanks to the rugged design, performance, and decent camera, the LQ G8 ThinQ has earned a 4.6. LG phones are typically not thought of as one of the top smartphones. However, high responsiveness, and picture quality, enclosed in a protective casing, are essential features required to support a journalist researching a story on the move.
Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro
The best feature of the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro has to be its 6.3-inch full HD display with wet and glove touch modes. Its rugged design includes IP68 certification and a MIL-STD 810G rating for protection against vibration, shock, heat, humidity, cold, etc. The owner can be reassured that their phone should survive almost anything. It offers a decent specked camera with 8MP double-lensed rear camera and a 13MP front.
- 4050mAh removable battery
- Sleek, rugged design
- A full HD 6.3-inch display
- Only 4GM RAM
- No 5G
Rating: 4.5 Out of 5
The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro comes in at a 4.5 as it captures high-res images, and the rugged design is intended to survive most accidents and extreme conditions. However, its performance is only reasonably responsive and not super-fast. The XCover Pro doesn’t support wireless charging, but the removable battery compensates for this minor shortfall, and frequently swapping out batteries helps extend its longevity.
Doogee S97 Pro
The Doogee S97 Pro is a relatively chunky phone likely to withstand most damage, primarily due to its rugged design certification and rating of IP68 and MIL-STD-810G. It offers decent imagery using camera sensors 48MP, 8MP, 2MP, and 2MP, running on Android 11 with the Arm Mali-G76 MC4CPU and 8GB RAM and 128GM ROM. These specs combined are powerful enough for a responsive user experience. The 8,500mAH battery is the most powerful one we’ve seen in this top ten so far.
- Huge battery
- Great performance
- A bit heavy and wieldy
Rating: 4.2 Out of 5
We’ve given the Doogee a 4.2 as its bulkiness may be a hindrance to journalists on the move. However, the powerful battery life and the reasonable camera will suffice.
Motorola Moto X Pro
The Motorola Moto X Pro is a “phablet” device with a 5.9-inch screen and 6.27 x 3.27 x 0.40-inch dimensions. Despite the size, it is relatively light, and the excellent resolution produces great interface clarity. It runs on a 2.7GHz quad-core CPU performance and will accommodate satisfactory responsiveness between apps.
- Large screen
- 21-megapixel camera
- Scratch-resistant glass
- 3220mAh battery
Rating: 4.1 Out of 5
This smartphone offers the main features typically required by a journalist. It has an eye-catching and practically cinematic display compared to other smartphones. The modest battery and the processor will accommodate good responsiveness between apps. But unfortunately, its design doesn’t include rugged features. Therefore, if caught up in an accident, it may not continue or recover.
The Motorola Defy is IP68 certified and has a coating of the latest screen protection–Gorilla glass Victus and thermoplastic frame, fully prepared to take a beating. Its impressive 6.5-inch display is perfect for Journalists to work from comfortably. It runs on a Snapdragon 622 chipset, with Android 10/11 OS armed with 4GB RAM AND 64GM ROM, specs satisfactory for getting the job done, powered by a long-lasting battery we’ve seen so far 5000mAh.
- MIL-SPEC 810H complaint
- Robust screen and shell
- 5000mAh battery
- Very thick and heavy
Rating: 4.0 Out of 5
The Motorola Defy is built in partnership with Bullitt, which works on CAT phones, so you can trust that the quality will be top-notch. The Motorola Defy has made it to our top ten thanks to its impressive battery and rugged design. It will also support a journalist on the move.
Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
At number ten, we have the Galaxy Grand Prime. The best feature is its hi-res camera for full HD video capture, using the rear and front cameras of 8MP and 5MP resolution. This spec is perfect for good-quality pictures and recordings. It also features “Autofocus” to fine-tune the focus pictures. It supports up to 64GB of memory for convenient media storage. The battery can handle heavy usage, so it offers surprising longevity even though it’s a 2600mAh battery (17 hours of talk time).
- Autofocus feature
- Space for storage expansion
- Mediocre screen display
Rating: 3.9 Out of 5
The Galaxy Grand Prime is rated a 3.9 as it offers all the features that would suit a journalist transitioning from carrying a kit around to using a mobile phone. It doesn’t include rugged design features, and therefore additional protective casing is required.
What Is a Rugged Device?
A device constructed with rugged design features is set to withstand the risks and sometimes danger of out-and-about use. It ensures the device can endure and continue to operate as expected when shocked, dropped from a distance, immersed in water for a particular length of time, under extreme temperatures, environments with high levels of dust, sand, and intense vibrations. Inevitably, a journalist will end up in all sorts of environments during their travels. They require a rugged device that can continue to perform when faced with harsh conditions.
iPhone and Android devices are more focused on entertainment features and functionality improvements than in-built protection. Therefore, a rugged designed smartphone is more suitable for journalists.
5 Best Mobile Apps for Journalists
Here are five essential mobile apps for journalists:
Double Take is a free app that features video recording using the front and back camera simultaneously. It offers three settings:
- Discrete: to record using the front and rear-facing cameras. And it will save as two separate video files.
- Picture-in-picture: the footage is saved as a single video.
- Split-screen: splits the screen into two.
Evernote is suitable for jotting down the quick ideas that come to mind while on the move. It is also helpful for note-taking or as a place to keep research swipe files. It also transcribes dictation.
Twitter is the social network app to go to for real-time information and news. It is perfect for journalists, especially when a story requires social proof or access to opinions on a particular topic.
Signal uses end-to-end encryption for complete security when communicating via text messages or sending media. It offers peace of mind knowing that a source’s privacy is protected and won’t be hacked.
TapeACall allows you to record unlimited calls, save and organize them, and send them via cloud storage or email. The primary benefit of this app is during interviews, as the journalist can focus on the interviewee instead of being concerned with note-taking.
Top 5 Journalist Add-On Accessories
Here are five addon accessories for smartphone journalism:
Stabilizer or Selfie Stick
Many regular smartphones feature Optical Image Stabilization to help smooth out the inevitable shakes and bumps captured when shooting footage using a handheld device. Adding a stabilizing device to your kit will improve its quality when the device being used does not offer the feature.
A built-in mic is omnidirectional so it will pick up the background noise. An external microphone is a must-have when capturing footage on the move to hear what’s being said clearly.
When the smartphone or device has one headphone jack and the journalist is likely working alone, an accessory mount will come in handy. An accessory mount or well-designed smartphone case accommodates carrying an external kit with a “hot shoe” adapter for additional connections.
An external light will offer better contrast, details, and less image noise, than using the in-built feature on the smartphone.
Portable Battery Charger
Running out of battery juice while recording or live streaming an important story is a journalist’s worst nightmare. A portable power bank to recharge the device is an absolute must.
Talk to a Tech Expert
For more information on any of the rugged smartphones for journalists discussed here or a quote on bulk orders, use the form below to contact Energy Electronics LLC. One of our technical experts will get back to you quickly.