Safe Buying Advice


Rugged Phones Australia, The Outdoor Phone Store, Best Rugged Phones and Rugged Phones Direct NZ are trading divisions of Investigate Magazine. When you purchase from us it will appear on your credit card statement as “InvestigateDaily” or “HATM Magazines Ltd”. We have been an authorised Visa/Mastercard merchant since 1995.

Buying online is the way of the world now, everyone’s offering cheap prices and deals, but what happens after they get the sale?



Generally speaking mobile phones purchased from these sources have no enforceable warranty or parts support in Australia, which is why they are usually cheaper – there is no risk to the seller. Even some of the Chinese phone manufacturers have set up Ebay stores because they know there are a lot of you searching for the cheapest price,  but they have expensive add-on warranties that in most cases exclude cover for things that would normally be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, so defects are automatically excluded. You are dealing with a sales assistant in China who is paid by commission and who really doesn’t care about whether the info they give is accurate, as one reviewer found out when dealing directly with the manufacturer:

Seller lied when asked if Vodafone could be used, item useless unable to return. Blackview BV6800 Pro Rugged Outdoor Mobile Phone 5.7″ 4+64GB 6580mAh Waterproof (#202827722943)”

No phone purchased from overseas can be sent back for servicing because of aviation rules on lithium batteries, even though Ebay stores promise otherwise, and no Ebay seller making a quick $40 markup on the wholesale price of an overseas phone (and especially not the Chinese manufacturers selling direct at wholesale on Ebay) is going to refund you $500. Buying at retail price brings you warranty rights if something goes wrong and – if you purchase from the Outdoor Phone Store – exclusive access to our parts and accessories catalogue.

Does the online store have criminal connections?: Yeah, that’s a question we never imagined we would have to ask. When we threatened to sue the NZ-based director of another Australian rugged phone store (yes, despite the green and gold they began in Christchurch) for continuing to publish made-up and false claims about us, he claimed to be a “one percenter” and emailed back this threat…:

“The problem with people like you is you let your ego get in the way of reality and you think using the law will get rid of your problems. 

Sorry but I have got news for you and its all bad, one percenters like me have ways and means of dealing with scumbags like you and its not done through the courts. I don’t fight clean and I definitely don’t fight fair but no street fighter ever does.

That’s not a threat, that’s a promise!… I am a one percenter, welcome to the fight !!

See you when I get back to NZ.


Look up “one percenter” for yourself, and ask yourself if you want the grief of buying from an online store whose owner boasts those kind of connections and that kind of contempt for the law. Good luck if something goes wrong with your phone…at least Peter and his fellow one percenter mates will know where to find you if you dare to complain! (Maybe that’s why they don’t have a phone number, and maybe that’s why their customers prefer dealing with us, as above)

And remember, in their email the other rugged phone store admitted they fight dirty, so take what they say about us and their other competitors with that in mind. Read more about the Rugged Phone Store here.

30-day and Six month warranties: So you have the choice of paying an Ebay seller $350 with a 30 day or six month ‘warranty’ (that you can’t even enforce) and no tech support, or a genuine retailer $500 for the same phone with a two year warranty and a 24/365 tech support helpdesk. Are we the only ones here who think that’s a no-brainer? To save $150, Buyer “A” is prepared to put the whole $350 at risk, whereas Buyer “B” gets greater tax deductability and certainty on repairs and service.

Two year warranty or two year warranty with screen cover as well?: Both main Australian sites offer two year warranties on Blackview and AGM models, but only one covers screen breakage on top of the standard warranty. Most rugged phone owners will never need to make an ordinary warranty claim, but a number of you will damage your phone accidentally. No other Australian phone retailer has any accidental damage cover. Only phones bought here, from Rugged Phones Australia, have that extra cover. And here’s one more thing to consider: our ‘standard’ two year warranty is better than their ‘premium’ two year warranty. Go figure.

Choose carefully: Some websites boast “the largest range” of outdoor phones, but many of their phones can’t be fully serviced if something goes wrong or you break them. Which phones? They don’t tell you on their sites which phones are serviceable and which aren’t – they have no technical expertise.  That means you are flying blind on their sites. Some of their brands, like Doogee and Ulefone, were dropped by us because their phones have a high failure rate – they are unreliable. But many of their remaining selection of phones can’t be serviced (most of the Ulefone range and nearly all the under $600 Blackviews) regardless of reliability. And they don’t tell you which ones are affected. Buying from them is Russian Roulette. Do you want that risk?

Your first choice: should always be a phone carrying the “full service” assurance on our site. These are phones we can fix for you cost effectively without harming the factory waterproof seal (IMPORTANT NOTE: just because we can service these phones does not mean that other resellers can offer the same service on those same phones. Don’t assume that buying that phone elsewhere gets you the same protections. If in doubt, ask a retailer what they charge for screen replacement or charge port replacement.) On our site, phones listed as “hermetically sealed” may be serviceable, but it is more expensive. If that’s an issue, choose a full service phone in the first place.

Phone numbers: Only buy from a site that has clear and direct ways to make contact, like phone numbers and chat/message response. If a site makes it hard for you to speak to someone about a sale, how much harder will it be to get service help if you need it “now”? Consumer watchdogs warn to avoid sites that make it hard to contact someone.

Social media feedback: Only buy from a site that has a Facebook page as well.  Stores that have no social media presence may not be willing to subject themselves to customer scrutiny and that should be a red flag.

Don’t buy:  from any site that tells you it will send your faulty phone back to the manufacturer for service – they are lying to you. Ever since the Samsung batteries problem in 2017 it has been impossible and illegal to post phones overseas to their manufacturers (all mail is now scanned), you can only use express courier at around NZ$150 one way. And even when you pay that price, the Asian manufacturers refuse to accept courier deliveries because they incur customs fees. So any site telling you they send phones overseas for repair is feeding you mushroom fertiliser. Some sites offer you lower prices with a “12 month manufacturer’s warranty” and make it your responsibility to send the phone back to the manufacturer. Read this paragraph again if you aren’t clear on how that story ends! That’s why the Outdoor Phone Store has in-house techs, because the buck stops with us. Our prices may be slightly higher than the fly by night dealers, but that’s because we keep parts in stock and actually fix phones ourselves.

Buy: local. Local companies must comply with the consumer laws, whereas you have no protection if you buy from an overseas retailer – you can’t send a dud phone back to them. Buying local gets you a receipt, no Customs hassles and extra import fees, and peace of mind knowing a local helpdesk is just a phone call away. Yes, we are run from NZ (just like the other Aussie-coloured rugged store competitor), but we have technical experience and expertise that our rivals don’t have

Read the fine print: All NZ and Aussie retailers have warranties, but the devil is in the detail.  All to say, our rivals have no experience fixing phones so they give you a warranty that is easy for them to get out of. Read the fine print before buying a cheap phone.

Look for: a company that does in-house service and repairs. Why? Because we know the phones intimately and that makes us the tech support experts. Smaller companies that don’t have in-house repair have to pay more to fix your phone using outside contractors and will therefore look for any reason they can to disallow any warranty claim. If it isn’t a warranty claim, they will lack the expertise to repair your phone and instead will try and sell you another phone at your expense. What seems like a cheaper deal now can cost you more in the long run. At the Outdoor Phone Store, we have customers entering their third and fourth years with the same phone, maintained by us. If a company just sells phones and doesn’t service them, how good is any technical advice they give you going to be? Seriously…

Cheap deals: Everyone likes a good deal, but the more “nuts and cola” the price, the more “peanuts and monkeys” will be the warranty support you get.  If the price is too good to be true, there’s probably a reason and there’s probably downstream implications.

WHERE WE RANK GLOBALLY (watch out for misleading claims):

The Outdoor Phone Store, as NZ’s largest rugged phone retailer is monitored daily by the giant global web analytics company Alexa, owned by Amazon. It is an official “audit” that allows major corporates to monitor their online advertising reach. We have more than 100 domain names worldwide which all point to either the InvestigateDaily site here, or our site in Australia.

The regular Alexa audits, based on Google search data, confirm time and again that our global site, the Outdoor Phone Store in NZ, is officially the #1 choice for Aussies or kiwis searching for rugged phones online.

#1 for rugged phones in NZ, #1 in Australia

It’s official. More people looking for a rugged phone come to our sites than any other specialist rugged phone retailer in New Zealand and Australia, according to the latest web traffic data (July 2020) from global analytics giant Alexa (owned by Amazon). Google is the #1 website in the world, as a guide. Here’s how we rank, in bold:

1. Outdoor Phone Store NZ (global web rank #502,000, #1 rugged phones retailer in NZ)
2. Rugged Phones Australia (#815,000, #1 rugged phones retailer in Au)
3. Parallel Imported NZ (877,000)
4. Exeltek Au (#1.8 million)
5. RPNZ (#3.7 million)
6. RPS Au (#7.1 million [7 July 2020])


Our prices are sometimes more expensive than our smaller competitors, and that’s because we handle parts and service for the phones we sell as required by the Consumer Guarantees Act. Our competitors don’t have parts. Don’t get sucked in by a store’s cheap price only to find that you ended up with a nuts-and-cola “warranty” that won’t be honoured and a phone that doesn’t work. Real technical service costs money, and is built into our pricing. Because our time is precious we will usually decline to service phones purchased elsewhere.


The Outdoor Phone Store has sold literally thousands of these phones. We never hear from most customers until they come back to buy a newer phone but there are comments on this site and on our Facebook page.


Look for retailers with contact phone numbers, addresses, a public feedback forum like Facebook, full repair service in-house, and one that gets lots of customers as measured independently rather than by self proclamation. And remember, if a retailer can only get customers by pretending to be the Outdoor Phone Store, what does that tell you about us – and them?