filmmakers using playback video

Filmmaking is a demanding industry that requires teamwork. Clear communication between the crew members is vital for a streamlined film production process. A correctly chosen smartphone can significantly speed up the workflow and assist in tasks like script editing, data transfer, scene visualization, and shoot scheduling. Read this guide to find the best devices, apps, and accessories for filmmakers.

Top 10 Smartphones for Filmmakers

1. CAT S62 Pro

Cat S62 Pro black rugged smartphone

CAT S62 Pro is a rugged smartphone designed to tolerate the harshest working conditions. It features an IP68/69 dust and water-resistance rating and Gorilla Glass 6-protected screen, serving as a perfect companion in extreme set environments. The large 5.7-inch screen is visible even under direct sunlight when you shoot outdoors.

This phone is equipped with a powerful processor and six gigabytes of RAM to run any filmmaking applications smoothly, streamlining the working process. A dedicated MicroSD card slot allows the user to expand 128-gigabyte built-in memory. The primary 12-megapixel camera can shoot in wide-angle mode and has a thermal imaging feature for ultimate creative freedom.

The CAT S62 Pro offers an array of connectivity features, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and a USB-C port. The 4000mAh battery will easily handle a long day on the set, even if you don’t have a charger nearby.

Pros:

  • Thermal imaging feature
  • High memory capacity
  • Powerful battery
  • Large display
  • Wide-angle camera mode

Cons:

  • No wireless charging support
  • A bit bulky for a pocket

Ranking: 4.8/5

2. CAT S42 H+

Cat S42 H+ black rugged smartphone tilt front view

The CAT S42 H+ was originally created for healthcare workers but is equally helpful in other industries, including filmmaking. It’s dust and waterproof, so you can safely bring the smartphone along even if you have to shoot in a desert or on a lake. The device also withstands drops to concrete from a six-foot height and has antimicrobial protection.

The 5.5-inch display provides clear visibility while ensuring the phone fits in a pocket. A 13-megapixel primary camera with a wide-angle lens and flash is ideal for taking test shots to determine how to position a professional camera. Like every modern smartphone should, the CAT S42 H+ has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC to keep you connected and a USB-C port for quick charging and easy data transfer.

Pros:

  • Great display
  • Wide-angle camera
  • Rugged and waterproof
  • Quick Charge support
  • Antimicrobial protection

Cons:

  • A bit pricey
  • No wireless charging support

Ranking: 4.9/5

3. CAT S22 Flip

CAT S22 Flip Information open and closed

Not every filmmaker uses a phone to take test shots or run pro-level apps. If you’re looking for a simple yet reliable communication device, consider the CAT S22 Flip. This small flip phone is IP68-certified against water and dust and MIL-STD-810H-compliant. The processor, camera, and display don’t stand out but handle the basic daily tasks and facilitate the phone’s cost-effectiveness. Most importantly, the device is equipped with a powerful, removable battery to keep you connected.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Lasting, removable battery
  • Rugged build

Cons:

  • Average camera
  • Small screen

Ranking: 4.3/5

4. Sonim XP5s

sonim xp5s rugged cell phone

Sonim XP5s is another simple yet robust companion for filmmakers, featuring a rugged, waterproof body. It offers all the connectivity features you need, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and LTE, for a low price. The removable battery provides 19 hours of continuous use, sufficient for an entire day of work. Although the Sonim XP5s doesn’t have an impressive camera or large display, it does the job of keeping you connected with the crew.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Lasting, removable battery
  • Rugged body
  • Connectivity features

Cons:

  • Small display
  • Small buttons may be inconvenient for typing

Ranking: 4.4./5

5. Sonim XP8

Sonim XP8 Rugged Phone front tilt

Sonim XP8 is a lifesaver for filmmakers tired of constantly changing their smartphones. A low device battery may put the work to a halt, prolonging the filmmaking process. This smartphone is equipped with a powerful 4900mAh battery providing up to 30 hours of talk time and supporting Quick Charge 4. The battery is removable, so you can prolong the device’s lifetime to 60 hours of active use – that’s more any filmmaker could possibly need. Other useful phone features include a rugged build, a 12-megapixel camera with HDR and panorama mode, and two SIM card slots.

Pros:

  • Powerful removable battery
  • Quick Charge support
  • Excellent camera with HDR
  • Two SIM card slots
  • Expandable memory

Cons:

  • A bit pricey
  • Barcode scanner unnecessary for most filmmakers

Ranking: 4.9/5

6. Sonim RS60

Sonim RS60 Mobile Computer Scanner Energy Electronics Rugged Tablet

Sonim RS60 is a revolution in the rugged mobile device industry. It combines an array of connectivity features, a multi-shift battery, and a sunlight-readable, glove-friendly 6-inch display in a compact, ultra-rugged body. However, the most impressive features of this smartphone are customizable buttons and a push-to-talk feature facilitating efficiency in the working process. Additionally, the phone supports up to a 256-gigabyte external memory card to store your work-related files and has a USB-C port for simple data transfer.

Pros:

  • Programmable buttons
  • Push-to-talk support
  • High memory capacity
  • Long-lasing battery
  • Large, sunlight-readable display

Cons:

  • A bit pricey

Ranking: 5/5

7. CAT S30

Cat S30 rugged smartphone front and back

CAT S30 is an affordable yet smart rugged device featuring a powerful multi-shift battery and numerous connectivity options. The main five-megapixel camera is simple but does the job, allowing you to check how a scene looks with specific lighting or angle. The phone has a dedicated memory card slot to store all the files you need and a Micro USB 2.0 port for quick data transfer.

Pros:

  • Memory card slot
  • Multi-shift battery
  • Large display
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Average camera
  • Average processor

Ranking: 4.6/5

8. Sonim XP7

Sonim XP7 grey rugged phone

The most prominent feature of Sonim XP7 is the 4800mAh battery providing up to 40 hours of talk time. It’s perfect for filmmakers who often need to travel and can’t always charge their phones. The phone is IP69-certified, so you can safely submerge it in water for up to 30 minutes. This phone doesn’t have a memory card slot, so it won’t suit users who prefer to take test shots on a smartphone. However, it’s a cost-effective solution for filmmakers having to work in the harshest environments.

Pros:

  • Ultra-rugged and waterproof
  • Exceptional battery
  • Decent camera

Cons:

  • Low memory capacity
  • No memory card slot

Ranking: 4.5/5

9. Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 has everything a filmmaker needs and more, including a 13-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens, HDR, panorama mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and USB-C 3.1 for speedy data transfer. The phone’s battery will handle an entire day of continuous use and supports Quick Charge and wireless charging. Filmmakers used to store all work-related data on a smartphone will appreciate the microSDXC memory card slot. What’s more, the device is ultra-rugged, featuring IP68 water resistance and MIL-STD-810G certification.

Pros:

  • Large, crisp screen
  • Quick Charge support
  • USB-C 3.1
  • Excellent camera
  • Long-lasting battery

Cons:

  • Non-removable battery
  • Average selfie camera

Ranking: 4.9/5

10. Kyocera DuraForce

Kyocera Duraforce smartphone forward facing

Kyocera DuraForce is a slightly older version of the DuraForce Pro 2 for users who don’t need a wide-lens camera. Like its successor, Kyocera DuraForce has an ultra-rugged body, multi-shift battery, a dedicated memory card slot, HDR, and panorama camera mode. The 4.5-inch LCD display is readable under direct sunlight and can be used even with wet fingers or gloves when you work outside.

Pros:

  • Great battery capacity
  • Dedicated memory card slot
  • HDR and panorama camera modes
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Average processor and RAM
  • No wide-lens camera

Ranking: 4.6/5

What Is a Rugged Device?

Professionals in construction, healthcare, manufacturing, filmmaking, and other industries favor rugged mobile computers and cell phones for outstanding durability. Such devices are engineered to withstand the most challenging environments, resisting bumps, shocks, drops, vibrations, extreme temperatures, submersion in water, and exposure to chemicals. However, not every rugged device is equally robust.

Semi-rugged devices are essentially enhanced versions of commercial hardware. The software and design are the same as off-the-shelf devices, but the parts most susceptible to damage are reinforced. Fully rugged devices are designed with extreme conditions in mind and are typically waterproof and dustproof.

Lastly, ultra-rugged devices are exceptionally durable, originally created for military use. However, such devices are also used in other industries. Ultra-rugged devices are MIL-STD-810 certified, meaning they have undergone a series of 29 tests to ensure standard compliance. CAT, Sonim, and Kyocera smartphones and cell phones are excellent examples of ultra-rugged devices.

Apart from MIL-STD-810 certification, rugged devices also feature International Protection (IP) waterproof and dustproof ratings. A device must have a minimum rating of IP54 to be classified as fully-rugged. Devices with a rating over IP65 are considered ultra-rugged. Sonim and CAT rugged devices have an IP rating of IP67 or higher and can tolerate one-meter submersion in water for up to 30 minutes.

Why Do Filmmakers Need a Rugged Phone?

filmmakers sits in directors chair

Filmmaking isn’t the first industry that comes to mind when you think of rugged devices. One may think that a classic smartphone would do the job on the set. However, the set environment isn’t always sparkling clean and harmless. Films are often produced in dusty pavilions. Cameramen may have to shoot in the water or at extreme heights. The working conditions may be even harsher outdoors, involving rain and extreme temperatures. Dust, submersion in water, extreme temperatures, and drops to concrete from heights can quickly kill any smartphone.

Leaving the device in a safe place isn’t always an option because the success of the filmmaking process largely depends on communication. Rugged phones and mobile computers allow everyone on the filmmaking team to stay in touch throughout the day without fearing of damaging the device, regardless of how extreme the set conditions are.

5 Best Mobile Apps for Filmmakers

These five apps help to streamline the filmmaking process.

1. Scriptation

Scriptation is an Emmy award-winning app for smartphones and computers, allowing users to easily edit scripts using annotation tools, highlight lines, and bookmark scenes. The notes can be quickly transferred to other devices with a single button tap. It’s a smart way to save a lot of time on script revisions and editing.

2. Studiobinder

Studiobinder offers an array of tools to streamline the filmmaking process. Users can create and send personalized call sheets, import scripts, schedule shoots, communicate with the team, share files, and much more. Most importantly, all these features are completely free.

3. Artemis Pro

Artemis Pro is a digital viewfinder for mobile devices favored by top-tier Hollywood and aspiring student filmmakers. It allows users to visualize how a scene would look with a specific lens, sensor, and field of view without having to set up an actual camera.

4. Helios Pro

Helios Pro was developed for all filmmakers, photographers, and designers wishing to visualize how a scene would look with specific lighting. Users can pinpoint the sun or moon position and choose the time of the year and day. Then, the app will create a realistic simulation of the highlights and shadows on objects.

5. Greenscreener

The Greenscreener app serves a very definite purpose – it shows how even a green screen is. Users can see how light is distributed on the screen to determine how to position the lighting appliances to achieve the necessary result.

Top 5 Filmmaker Add-On Accessories

film student videos yellow building

Here are the top five smartphone accessories necessary for every filmmaker.

1. Charging Add-Ons

Filmmakers can be on set from dusk to dawn, and device batteries rarely can handle the entire day of active work. A charging dock, power bank, and charging cable with Quick Charge support are essential accessories for every filmmaker who wants to stay in touch at all times.

2. Storage Add-Ons

Any device’s memory is limited, and high-quality video takes a lot of space. Even if you only take test scene pictures with your phone, the megabytes add up quickly. External storage and several fast, high-capacity memory cards are essential for every filmmaker. Look for plug-in memory drives with USB-C or Micro USB ports and video-speed class MicroSD cards.

3. Communication Add-Ons

Communication on the set is key to a streamlined filmmaking process. Bluetooth headsets are a great help in clearly delivering the message to your team when you’re out of voice range.

4. Tripod

Every filmmaker knows the purpose of a tripod, but not everyone considers getting one for their smartphone. However, a tripod can be extremely helpful when you need to make a test shoot without having to set up the camera.

5. Smartphone Lenses

External clip-on smartphone lenses can help filmmakers visualize how a scene would look with a specific diaphragm, resolution, and effect. Some lenses are good enough to shoot an entire commercial or a short movie using a smartphone only. Although mobile apps such as Artemis Pro can simulate the effects of different lenses, real lenses help to achieve a more realistic result.

How to Get a Bulk Discount on Rugged Phones

Filmmaking is teamwork. If you want to buy several rugged smartphones for filmmakers to streamline the production process and ensure your entire team communicates efficiently, reach out to Energy Electronics. We offer great discounts on bulk rugged phone orders and are happy to assist you in choosing the right devices to meet your needs.

Talk to a Technology Expert

Energy Electronics is a certified reseller of Sonim, CAT, Kyocera, and other rugged mobile devices. If you aren’t sure which smartphone for filmmakers best fits your needs or would like to get a quote, get in touch today. Simply fill out the contact form below and receive a quote on any device within one business hour.