Generally we treat our phones with a whole lot of care, polishing the screen whenever it gets smudged and doing our darndest to make sure that they don’t get dropped, dunked (unless they’re into that – looking at you, Sony) or destroyed in one way or another.
That’s not always possible, as life has a way of taking your good intentions and making a mockery out of them by launching a smartphone out of the window in an unlikely accident involving a bowl of strawberry jelly and a small ferret. That’s just an example, of course, but there’s often no telling when the world will attempt to crush your phone. If you’re working construction or a similar job, the percentage of time this will happen is multiplied but CAT, who make earth-moving equipment, boots and a couple of other products that can take a beating, have a phone that can assist you there.
That would be the CAT B15Q, an Android 4.4 handset that is designed to be tougher than the average phone. It features an aluminium frame surrounded by rubber shielding at the top, bottom and rear. All of the ports and buttons are covered in rubber as well, in order to facilitate the IP67 rating that the phone carries, and the admittedly low-res screen is made from toughened Gorilla Glass.
The removable rear panel has a lock-switch to keep it from popping off when there’s moisture present and the build-quality overall is sturdy, if a bit lightweight for a rugged phone. We’ve used other, less well-specced CAT phones that seem as though they could survive a tussle with a tank but the B15Q is going more for a drop-proof, water-resistant effect this time around. We’d be hesitant about inflicting massive punishment on this phone but it’ll still take more of a beating than a Samsung flagship.
Chipset/CPU: MediaTek MT6582M/1.3GHz quad-core (1GB RAM)
Storage: 4GB, up to 32GB external
Camera: 5MP, LED flash/VGA (front)
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery: 2,000mAh Li-Ion, removable
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
SIM Card: SIM
Features: IP 67, drop/shock resistant
Dimensions: 125mm x 69.5 x 14.95
We mentioned the low-res display, you’re going to be getting a resolution of 480 x 800 on the 4-inch screen. But CAT have given the screen the ability to function while wet, so you could conceivably use it in the shower if it took your fancy. The specs otherwise, though not much more than a mid-range collection of hardware, are pleasant enough. The 1GB of RAM, the MediaTek processor and the 4GB of storage are enough to get you started. If you’re looking at the CAT B15Q as a replacement handset you’re likely more concerned with its utilitarian uses than having a superphone in your pocket anyway.
There’s a 5MP camera to play with, capable of average shots but there’s nothing special to be found here. Bluetooth 4.0 is being touted and it’s obviously something new for CAT’s phones but, again, there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before. The B15Q supports microSD additions up to 32GB, while the 2,000mAh battery will last you about a day – barely.
An area of complaint, depending on your point of view, is that while the B15Q uses Android 4.4.2, the initial skin is extremely basic. The phone ships with only one home screen active, and they give you pointers on how to construct folders on that lone area of space when you boot the phone for the first time, but it is perfectly possible to customise and expand the display at a later stage.
While the skin is basic, it’s also very usable, making the CAT B15Q an ideal phone for users who may not have handled Android before – once the initial setup has been walked though, at any rate.
As mid-range phones go, CAT’s effort is a nifty little addition to a very cluttered lineup, standing out by virtue of it’s waterproof nature and it’s ability to take most things that are thrown at it and still keep ticking. We’re not tempted to run over it with a car, as we have been with previous handsets, but it’s still much more durable than the stuff being put out by Samsung, Sony and LG. If you’re expecting a mishap or seventeen in your line of work, taking along CAT’s little workhorse is a definite plan.