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Cat B15 review

Rugged handset impresses with durability, but it's an unlikely smartphone
Wed Jul 17 2013, 15:12

Product Cat B15
Specifications 4in 480x800 IP67 certified touchscreen with wet finger tracking, dual-core 1GHz processor, 4GB internal storage expandable via microSD card, 5MP rear camera, VGA front camera, HSDPA and WiFi connectivity, 2,000mAh battery, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system, 125x69.5x14.95mm, 170g
Price Around £300 SIM-free

CATERPILLAR isn't a big name in the smartphone industry, but it does have a niche audience - those living outdoor lifestyles or with heavy-duty jobs who want a smartphone that can survive the elements and one that will match their tractor or digger.

Enter the Cat B15, the firm's first 'rugged' smartphone boasting resistance against water, dust, mud and scratches, or pretty much everything.

It's fair to say that the Cat B15 is no HTC One or iPhone 5, and it's unlikely to win any awards for its design, especially with the device tipping the scales at 170g. That's kind of the appeal with the Cat B15, though, as although it's chunky and unattractive the design managed to turn heads with its sturdy aluminium body and rubberised back.

Cat B15 features a rubber and aluminum design

It's not a phone that will appeal to the mass market, but it's because of these design features that the Cat B15 will appeal to some. The rugged casing means the handset has IP67 certification, which sees it brushing off water, dust and scratches.

We put this to the test, and the Cat B15 does match Caterpillar's big claims. First off, we heavy-handedly threw the device onto a concrete patio and, much to our surprise, the device bounced back up with hardly a scratch or dent. Worried that we weren't being rough enough, we went on to throw the handset around a garden, burying it in dirt and throwing it into jagged rocks. Once again, the Cat B15 wasn't at all bothered.

We also tested the handset's waterproof claims, dipping the device into a sink full of water for a few minutes. Much like the Sony Xperia Z, not only wasn't the Cat B15 bothered, but its screen can also be operated with wet hands, an added bonus for those who work outdoors.

The Cat B15 features a 4in 480x800 LCD display, which in terms of image quality and colour pales in comparison with its big-name Android rivals, with colours appearing dull and images often noisy and pixelated.

Cat B15 has a 4in WVGA screen

That said, the screen does work well in bright sunlight, again an advantage for those who work outdoors. This adds to the wet finger tracking support on the phone and the fact that the screen's Gorilla Glass coating protects it from scratches and cracks.

Next: Operating system and performance.


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