Security guard phone – Best buy guide 

UPDATED: 1 February 2024

Security guard phones are not an easy choice. There are hundreds of smartphones available and lots of articles reviewing toughened phones that claim they can be used in rugged environments. But no review tells you:

  • What should a security guard phone be able to do?
  • How much should you budget?
  • How long will the phone last?
  • Does a security guard even need a phone? (We conclude, not always).

We have tens of thousands of people using our software, why not base a recommendation on the experience of people using phones in the field of security?

Samsung Xcover 5 – Best budget security guard phone

Best  budget security guard phone - Samsung Xcover 5

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Samsung Xcover 7 – Best overall security guard phone

Best security guard phone - Samsung Xcover 7

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Hytera PDC550 – Best innovation guard phone

Best security guard phone innovation -Hytera PDC550

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Security Guard Phone: What does it need to do?

Buying a security guard phone is very different to buying a normal consumer phone. The camera doesn’t need to have millions of pixels and the processor doesn’t need to be super quick for gaming. It does however, need to last and have some core features.

As a rule a security guard phone really only needs two features which are over and above a standard smartphone feature set:

  • Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Ingress protection 68 (IP68)

There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if the security guard is working in a grain store, then electrical devices present a fire risk. In which case they’ll need a non-incendive device such as the Sonim XP8.

It goes without saying, you should use the best NFC Tags to go with the best security guard phone.

Beside core features, what else does a phone for a security guard need? First, some background.

Ignore these…

Unless you only want text and speak features you should ignore feature phones because they do not provide access to the internet (and our software…)  

Window phones are excluded from this article because no one but IT directors like them and, they’re not being made anymore. Apple phones are precluded because they’re too expensive and have only recently featured the required functionality for a security guard tour (NFC).

In the beginning there was the Galaxy S3

Back in 2012 the Samsung Galaxy S3 was the phone of choice for the security guard.


 It was popular with security guards because:

  1. It’s an Android phone, which means it has NFC, a function needed for security patrols.
  2. The screen is large enough (5.4 inches), tough enough (Gorilla Glass 2) and sensitive enough to satisfy people with large fingers. (It has 306 pixels per inch, which is enough given the maximum a human can recognise is 338 pixels per inch).
  3. It packs a quad core processor, which means it responds to a command quicker that it takes to boil a kettle. 

Add this phone with the below case and in 2012 you had a long lasting phone for a security guard:


 #1. Best budget security guard phone: Samsung Galaxy Xcover 5

 Security Guard Phone samsung xcover 4s

  • Screen size: 5.3 inches
  • Battery: 2920 mAh (replaceable)
  • Cost: £200 approximately
  • Reason to Buy: Great Value

The Samsung Galaxy XCover 5 is still sold by Samsung. The fifth generation XCover 5 supersedes the XCover 4s. It came with Android 11 and now runs Android 13.

Its screen size is big enough for people with even the largest hands. It also feels solid, inspiring the security guard’s confidence in the device. The rear cover can be removed to allow for a replacement battery to be added.

Add the Spigen case to the XCover 5 and you have a phone that can withstand poor weather and poor handling.

#2 Best overall security guard phone: Samsung Galaxy Xcover 7

Security Guard Phone Samsung_Galaxy_XCover_Pro

  • Screen size: 6.3 inches
  • Battery: 4050 mAh (replaceable)
  • Cost: Up to £400
  • Reason to Buy: Enterprise grade rugged phone

Launched January 2024, the Samsung Xcover 7 replaces the excellent Samsung Xcover Pro. It’s nearly identical to its predecessor but has the latest operating system and claims a screen that works better in daylight.

When you spend nearly £400 you have a lot of rugged phone options, such as the Cat S52. However, the Xcover 7 is our choice because it’s made by the largest phone manufacturer in the world and we’ve received great feedback about its predecessors.

What makes the Xcover 7 twice the price of the XCover 5? Some things that clearly don’t matter to a security guard (faster processor, better camera) and some things that do: larger battery and bigger screen size.

One big plus for the XCover 7 is you don’t need to combine it with a case: it comes with its own hardened surround that has passed the 1.5 metre drop test.

Is the XCover 7 twice as good as the XCover 5? No. But it’s not far off.

#3 Best security guard phone innovation: Hytera PDC550

Security Guard Phone hytera PDC550

  • Screen size: 5 inches
  • Battery: Standard 2800 mAh, optional 3500 mAh
  • Cost: £700 approximately
  • Reason to Buy: It’s an excellent digital radio and an Android phone

The Hytera PDC550 is the first dual bearing radio that has integrated a fully functioning 5 inch Android phone. You can now make radio broadcasts, access the internet or call someone using the mobile phone.

This combination may make phone reviews like this redundant. Most security guards are equipped with digital radios, why give them an additional mobile phone when they can have one device that fulfills both functions?

The phone has NFC and it’s housed in the usual toughened surround you’d expect of a radio (IP68). The manufacturer is already very well established in the radio market.

Since launch we’ve received mixed reviews about the device by users. They find two products bundled into one a risk. Because, if either the radio or the phone go wrong then it may need to be sent away for repair. In either case, it puts two rather than one device feature set out of action for a while.

One possible fly in the ointment could be the mismatch between the phone and radio lifespans. Radios usually have a shelf life of 7+ years, but would the phone be safe to use after 3 years? One solution may be around the way organisations procure their radios. Most hire rather than buy their radios, meaning they could schedule a replacement device every three years.

Although the PDC550 is expensive compared to the Samsung options it represents a real jump forward for security guards who could now have an authorised portal to the internet, without the additional cost of a phone.

Finally: Tips

Regardless of the security guard phone you choose, the below tips should be helpful.

When should I Budget to Replace a Phone?

You should budget to replace a phone at least every three years because:

  • Wear and tear
  • Android won’t promise to update a phone’s security after it’s three years old

Set-up Tips

Below are our preferences for setting-up a smartphone for security guards:

  • Screen Display: Set screen display to maximum to help a security guard view the screen in direct sunlight. Turn off face detection, it’s too unreliable.
  • NFC: Switch on
  • Screen time out: Leave the screen to timeout as long as possible. A phone that goes to sleep after 10 seconds annoys any user.
  • Screen swivel: Fix to portrait and don’t allow it to swivel, life is simpler that way
  • Notification vibrate and sound: Allow the phone to vibrate and if it doesn’t annoy other people switch on the sound notification.This feedback helps confirm to the security officer their action has been successful.

Information Security Tips

Many organisations are concerned about a phone’s information security risk. As mentioned above, getting a new phone every three years is recommended. Additionally lots of people will opt to place control management software on their phones. This option offers:

  • Control over a user’s ability to access a phone’s apps, such as YouTube.
  • The capacity to stop a user downloading material or apps from the internet.
  • The ability to remotely lock the phone and wipe the phone’s data.

Popular control management software solutions such as VMware provide all these options but it’s not free.

There are free apps out there to download, such as AppLock, but these offer only basic control over a phone.


Now you have your phone, have you considered adding reporting software to it? I’ve heard SIRV is a good option… But, don’t just take our word for it, check out our security guard app guide.

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