Updated, 4:27 p.m. ET: We've included additional information about U.S. availability through Verizon.
If you thought the days of removable smartphone batteries were long gone, you’re in luck: Samsung is bringing back one of our favorite features in its new Galaxy XCover Pro, a rugged $500 smartphone designed for industrial workers but available for anyone to buy.
The 6.3-inch XCover Pro can take almost anything you throw at it — sort of like one of Samsung’s Galaxy Active phones, but with more features that make it useful if you work on a job site. With military-grade protection from the elements, a FHD+ display that works with wet hands and gloves, a pogo pin for docked charging, and that 4,050 mAh removable battery, the XCover Pro can do it all. The fact that it’s only $500 — and that anyone can buy it through Samsung’s website — is a game-changer.
The XCover Pro doesn’t feel like a cheap device. When I saw a demo model of the XCover Pro at a CES press briefing last week, the phone felt sturdy, with a textured back and beautiful display. The removable back is a welcome addition, because you can buy a battery separately.
This phone has literally everything: a headphone jack, USB-C charging port in addition to the pogo pin, power button fingerprint sensor and facial recognition.
The XCover Pro targets workers in fields ranging from factories and mills to airlines and retail stores, and its rugged design belies useful productivity features. Samsung built two programmable buttons into the XCover Pro — one on the side and one on top — that you can use as shortcuts for work-specific apps (including support for Microsoft Teams’ new walkie-talkie feature). The device has Samsung’s point-of-sale system built in and works with tap to pay for supported cards.
The XCover Pro isn’t a rival to Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Note 10 or Galaxy S10 (or the Galaxy S11/S20 when that new flagship phone debuts in February). The device packs in 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and an Exynos 9611 CPU — not exactly cutting-edge specs. The new phone’s dual-lens rear shooter has a standard 25-megapixel lens and an 8-MP wide-angle lens, and a 13-MP front-facing lens is cut out of the top left of the screen.
Samsung says the phone will ship in the U.S. during the first half of the year, with the Galaxy XCover Pro available through Verizon. Samsung hopes companies will invest in a fleet of phones for their employees. But for those who want a rugged smartphone that can withstand life’s abuse, the XCover Pro might be the perfect daily driver.
An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect display type for the Galaxy XCover Pro, which features a 6.3-inch FHD+ screen.