BD+C’s sister publication, Construction Equipment, recently field tested Caterpillar’s entry into the rugged mobile device market, the Cat B15 smartphone.
Manufactured by Bullett Mobile Ltd. under license from Caterpillar, the B15 is billed by Cat as “the most progressive, durable and rugged device available on the market today.”
Among the listed features are drop-resistance up to 1.8 meters (nearly five feet), water resistant (submerged up to one meter for 30 minutes), imperviousness to dust, and easy wet-finger tracking ability. The phone starts at $349 and ships unlocked to work with any carrier.
CE Contributing Editor and long-time construction industry professional Pat Crail put the Cat B15 through the paces to see if it actually lived up to the company’s claims. Crail offered the following feedback:
• Wet fingers? No problem. “The first rugged feature that I tested was wet-screen finger tracking on the VGA touch screen. I have used several other touch-screen phones and have always had difficulty with wet-finger tracking, especially if there is any oil or grease present. The B15 masterfully handles wet finger gestures on its screen, even with some oil residue or grease on the fingers.”
• Built to take a beating. “I then tested the phone’s ability to handle the 1.8-meter drop onto a concrete surface. Its aluminum-and-rubber construction lived up to claims. I dropped the phone from 1.8 meters a number of times, with no apparent damage.”
• Passed the water test. “After submerging the Cat B15 for 30 minutes in a meter of water, I pulled it out, shook off the excess moisture, and was able to use the phone immediately for both voice calls and Internet connectivity. I repeated this trial a few times over the several months of testing. To its credit, the B15 easily handled multiple submersions over the three months I used it.”
• Lack of 4G could be an issue for some. “The B15 seemed a bit sluggish when opening large, photo-heavy Web pages and video files, likely a result of the phone’s lack of 4G connectivity. The B15 operates on the latest version of Android and supports 3G wireless connections. According to Caterpillar’s Sarah Crab, there are no plans for the B15 to support LTE (4G) data connections.”