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WARNING: Beware of Cowboys selling “cheap” rugged phones
Some big rugged phones sites and TradeMe sellers are trying to flog-off phones that don’t work in rural areas, and which may not work anywhere once Vodafone and Spark switch off the 3G cellsites next year – and they’re lying to their customers about it, still promising “compatible with all NZ 3G/4G networks”.
To help you avoid being stung, we’ve compiled a database of all rugged phones and whether they are really compatible. Read more at the links
The 5 Top Reasons To Buy Here…
ONE – No Cowboys
Not all rugged phone retailers are created equal. Some of our competitors will blatantly sell you a phone that doesn’t work in rural areas. Worse, they will actually lie to you by claiming the phones are fully compatible with NZ networks when they’re not (they lack Band 28, required for coverage beyond the city limits):
Others will make false claims about being “authorised and official distributors”, presumably to make you “trust” them with a big purchase. But if they have gone to the extreme of presenting an “authorisation certificate” that AGM itself claims is forged, would you really want to trust anything they say about their phones? Count how many times they emphasise “genuine”, “authentic”, “authorised”, “official” or “trusted” on their site, and then go back and read what AGM Mobile said about the Rugged Phones NZ “authorisation certificates”:
TWO – We Sell Quality, Not Crap
All the rugged phones we sell are sourced either directly from the phone company itself (our joint venture with AGM Mobile) or from the top-graded (and more expensive) independent factories. Believe it or not, the Blackview, AGM, Ulefone or other rugged unit you are price-checking against TradeMe or other online retailers may not be the same phone. Chinese rugged phone brands sub-license manufacturing their phone designs to hundreds of independent factories across China. There is no quality control, and it means some phones are brilliant and some will stop working in mere weeks or months. It all comes down to which factory built that particular unit you purchased. Some factories use slave labour (who are not motivated to produce quality on the assembly line) and parts salvaged from returned faulty phones to gain a price edge so they can offer the phones at “cheapest” prices.
Speaking of cheap, it may surprise you that a 4GB/64GB Android 9 smartphone similar to what we might sell for $399 sells for $3,800 PLUS GST! in NZ to big corporates. The reason for such a massive price is quality control over the manufacturing process (which the Chinese brands simply don’t have), and that allows this rugged $3800 + GST unit to be ATEX-certified for use in flammable environments, by “confirming that future production is identical to the ‘type’ that was assessed” which the Chinese brands that outsource manufacture simply can’t confirm.
Stores selling rugged phones cheaply to consumers need to source the cheapest versions of these units to make any profit. It’s a vicious circle, creating a big risk for their customers. We prefer to avoid the risk. We buy phones from long time suppliers and we pay sustainable prices that ensure their workforce is motivated. Our prices are generally higher as a result, but we have very few warranty claims because our phones are constructed better.
With rugged consumer phones, you can buy cheap or you can buy quality: but you can’t buy both. The only thing standing between you and a lemon is the retailer so you need to be confident they are quality-focused and not misleading you.
THREE – Repair & Servicing Expertise
By definition, rugged phones tend to have a tougher life than ordinary phones. That means they are more likely to need occasional servicing to keep them operating well. Some of our customers are still using repairable (sustainable) phones they purchased from us six years ago.
We service our phones in-house, in New Zealand. We carry parts in Auckland. We have provided technical assistance to Blackview. Our competitors mostly sell glued-shut phones that can’t be economically repaired, so when a fault occurs they won’t actually open the phone to confirm – they will simply kick the tyres and blame you for the fault, denying the warranty claim.
When you buy from the Outdoor Phone Store, you bypass that sideshow: we can get into our phones, we can replace damaged components in most cases, and we can get you back in operation – which is why some of our customers have phones that are now six years old!
FOUR – Screen Breakage Warranty
Our competitors don’t offer this but it’s standard at full retail price with many of our phones. Unlike ordinary iPhones or Samsungs, rugged phones are waterproof so screen replacement is far more complicated and expensive than your local phone repair shop can handle. Most won’t touch a rugged screen, for the same reason most jewellers can’t reseal your waterproof watch after a battery change. The parts and labour cost for replacing a rugged screen are now (post-pandemic) in the region of $400 or more. Factor that cost into your calculations when comparing our phone prices. Again, it’s just a peace of mind thing.
Although rugged phones are designed to be less breakable they are not unbreakable, and even toughened glass can crack if it makes direct contact with a rock.
FIVE – Great Advice
Before you make a phone purchase, talk to us first – regardless of whether you end up buying from us. We know all the brands, and in particular we know exactly why we have chosen not to stock some models. Unless you ask us you won’t know, and our competitors sure aren’t going to tell you. Many of the phones on other websites or TradeMe simply won’t work in most areas of New Zealand…they are being flogged by “sellers” not techxperts. If you want some no-obligation advice simply use the “Leave A Message” tab at the bottom right of the screen or call our freephone 0800 747 007 and tell us the model you are thinking about.