questionswhich simple cell phone can take the most abuse…

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Cell phone build quality is pretty good these days no matter what you get. If I had to pick one, I'd say anything from one of the popular manufacturers is going to have the best longevity and warranty.

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Verizon used to have the G'zOne Commando I don't know if they still do. I hate to recommend it because it's probably a super fragmented version of android with a horrible 3rd party skin, but I recognize there are some people out there who are abusive to their phones and need something like it. I'd go to your wireless company and ask a rep if they offer any of the more rugged phones.

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My simple Motorola Quantico clamshell is rugged.

"Motorola claims that the Quantico is durable and can withstand obstacles like vibration, dust, shock, extreme pressures and temperatures, and blowing rain. While we couldn't replicate these environments, we did throw the phone on the ground and dunked it in water a few times without ill effect." Cnet review

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Beware someone on deals woot was selling rugged cellphones.
The site sets off My security software, warning that it is suspicious. It looks like a direct from china sales site. Edit the link
http://deals.woot.com/deals/details/34c0e64d-3f2e-4c0d-a014-7f1d8024ac74/original-runbo-x5#0

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@mybestuser1: I did some research on the Runbo 5X when that first deal post showed up. (I also tattled on it because the deal price posted didn't match the website's price.)

I was really surprised to learn that the phone itself is apparently in fairly wide use around the globe and appears to get fairly good ratings. It's sold via Amazon Marketplace in the UK, and I thought this review was interesting http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/15/runbo-x5-x3-x1/

I'm not endorsing any particular seller or website -- just noting that I was surprised by what I found researching this phone.

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I love the Casio G'Zone line of phones!

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I don't know, but my simple phone will dial 911 while it's in my pocket. Actually, 112 (the worldwide GSM emergency number). No way to disable that "feature." Better to get a flip phone if you're getting one with physical buttons, I'd say.

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@omnichad: You can't "lock" the keypad? I used to have one that would dial 911 if the 9 key was held down. I just had to lock the keypad and it required me to press the menu key then the * (I think) to unlock. Check yer settings, yo.

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I've been using the rugged type of Samsung Convoy flip phone for 4 years. (2 models) from Verizon. They can handle being dropped quite well, claim to be weather resistant, but it is easy to pull the rubber plug you use for charging open, thus opening up the phone to liquid intrusion. What you mean by abuse, (dropping, water, (stupidly put in your back pocket and sit on it) is too vague. The G'Zone phones are quite good also. But no phone can handle a scratched screen. Buy a screen protector and apply. The most important thing to me is reliability as a phone, not texting or using it as a mini computer.