Big shiny yellow diggers. Trucks. Excavators. Say the name “Cat” or “Caterpillar” and you instantly think of their large machinery, but you may also think of their boots, shirts and now – phones.
The new Cat B15 smartphone is here at Mobile World Congress and we were lucky enough to get a meeting with the guys about the new venture. Dave Floyd, Director of Technology and Colin Batt, Director of Strategy, also worked on the JCB smartphones. You may remember them doing some pretty innovative tests showing how tough it really was.
However, if you suggest a “tough phone” to most people they’ll probably still buy an expensive and very breakable iPhone or Galaxy SIII instead. Then, despite the fact that they bought the phone partly for the look and design, they’ll swap a chunky cover to go over it.
Worse still, if you head to any busy store or train station you’ll probably see people struggling to use a phone with a broken screen. Just last week in London I saw someone with an iPhone that had a crack in the screen, but they were still using it. Insurance costs and long contracts stop people replacing broken phones. A massive 77% of all accidents are caused after the user dropped a phone, so the Cat B15 can be dropped from a height of 1.8 metres onto concrete and survive perfectly well. They’ve made sure that, although the phone has obvious toughness and a rugged design, it still has a style about it.
The B15, which will sell for £299 and runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, has a really good screen too. In the past I’ve seen these “tough smartphones” skimp on specs, but his is actually pretty respectable with a 480×800 pixel 4″ WVGA display. It’s powered by a dual-core 1GHz CPU and has 4GB of storage plus 512MB of RAM and a microSD card slot. There’s also a 5 megapixel camera around the back and a VGA shooter up front. GPS, WiFi, gorilla glass and a very decent 2000 mAh battery powers the device.
There’s a lot of thought in this – the guys have obviously made this waterproof (IP67) and they’ve dunked it in the bath for 30 minutes with no problems, plus it’s impervious to dust. All this means the dreaded “flaps” of course, but they’re not the same sort of flaps you’ll see on the likes of the Xperia Z. These are screwed in, and the rubber attaching the flap to the handset is both thicker and wider than you’d normally find, so there’s not much chance of pulling them off. If you do, don’t worry, Cat supply a screwdriver kit (special screws hold the rubbers on) and extra rubber flaps. These are man phones grrr… :)
The most interesting part is that this phone will be coming to contract too. You’ll soon be able to pick one up for around £20 per month and, although Colin wouldn’t reveal who, a major UK operator will be offering this on their network. You can expect this in stores from March too.
Click on for the announcement or enjoy our shots..
Cat® B15 launches – bringing a new level of durability to the rugged mobile device sector
Barcelona, Mobile World Congress, Monday 25 February 2013, Bullitt Mobile Ltd., global licensee of Cat phones for Caterpillar Inc., today introduced the new Cat B15, designed to be the most progressive, durable and rugged device available on the market today. Its robust design includes the ability to withstand a 1.8 metre drop, being submerged in up to one metre of water for 30 minutes, the functionality to use the 4 inch multi-touch screen with wet fingers, as well as being dustproof and scratch resistant.
“The Cat B15 is one of the most exciting launches in the rugged mobile device sector, a handset that will with stand seriously tough conditions, whilst remaining distinctively designed. Bucking the trend for mobile phones that look great, but fail to stand up to the rigours of an active lifestyle, the Cat B15 brings the heritage, credibility and quality of the Cat brand, combined with the latest mobile technology, delivering a reliable, durable device.” said Dave Floyd, Director of Technology, Bullitt Mobile Ltd., global licensee for Cat phones.
He continued, “We strongly believe that Cat Phones will drive the popularity and growth of the underserved global rugged device market, and our ambition is to be the number one global rugged device handset by 2015.”
The Cat B15 will appeal to a diverse audience from outdoor adventurers (snowboarders, mountain bikers etc) to industrial/construction workers, in fact anyone looking for a phone that withstands dropping, knocking, water and dust. The new device comes with the latest version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean) and dual core 1GHZ processor.
Every feature of the new Cat B15 has been carefully considered to deliver on the Cat brand heritage of durable, industry leading, high quality design. The device is protected by silver anodized aluminium and shock absorbent rubber, reinforcing its durability, enabling the 1.8m drop. In addition, the Cat B15 is certified IP67, an industry standard meaning the device is dustproof and waterproof (being submerged in up to one metre of water for 30 minutes). Wet finger tracking is easy with the 4-inch multi-touch display.
The Cat B15 will available from major retailers from March 2013 priced at 329 euros / 299 GBP.
Cat B15 specification:
• Operating System: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
• Processor: MediaTek MT6577 Dual 1GHz Cortex™-A9
• Size: 125mm x 69.5mm x 14.95mm
• Weight: 170g
• Screen details: 4” WVGA 480×800 LCD, Capacitive Multi-touch, Gorilla glass, wet finger tracking
• Memory: 4GB storage + 512 RAM
• Camera: 5.0 MP Rear, VGA Front
• Video: 720P recording 30 FPS Codecs H.263, H.264/AVC, mpeg4/SP, VP8
• Talk time: Up to 9 hours
• Stand By: Up to 9.5 days
• Connections: microUSB, microSD 32GB, 3.5mm audio
• GPS: A-GPS mode
• Temperature Operational range: -20º C to + 55º C
• Drop testing: 1.80M Concrete
• IP rating: IP67 waterproof to 1m for 30 min Impervious to dust