When you work in harsh environments like construction, it becomes all too familiar to see a cellphone on the ground, in the mud, or falling from a scaffold. According to the CTIA Wireless Assn., www.ctia.org, Washington, D.C., as of June 2011 there were more than 327 million mobile phones in the US. Of those, 60%–about 196 million—were inoperable due to damage. Other reports indicate as many as 82 million of those damaged phones cannot be repaired.

What is needed, obviously, is a cellphone that can take the rough life construction workers live. If that is your quest, one of the latest options to hit the market is the XP 3400 Armor ultra-rugged CDMA mobile phone from Sonim Technologies, www.sonimtech.com, San Mateo, Calif.

The Sonim XP 3400 Armor combines ultra-rugged features with the speed and reliability of mobile broadband to offer a highly reliable lifeline for users who work in some of the harshest environments. The device features all the good stuff that is typically associated with a ruggedized device for construction. But in today’s day and age of data on demand, devices need to be more than just tough.

As with many connected devices today, the XP 3400 Armor handset brings capabilities like GPS to the construction working, delivering location data. The phone offers certified third-party applications such as workforce management solutions, a two-megapixel camera with extra bright LED flash and video recording.

The XP 3400 Armor, which is initially available through a strategic partnership with C Spire Wireless, www.cspire.com, Ridgeland, Miss., is just the latest example of how rugged devices are delivering better functions to the construction worker. We have seen fast rollout of more rugged tablet computers at the jobsite.

The best work in construction is done in the field, so naturally that is where you need your best tools. Today, things like a smartphone and tablet can be just as valuable a tool as any in construction. In this age of leveraging more data from the jobsite, such tools can evolve to become a contractor’s best friend.