Cat B15.

The one word you think of when you see those three letters. CAT. As in Caterpillar. As in construction equipment.

Rugged.

And that's translated nicely to the Cat 15 ruggedized Android smartphone. Available now for $349 after its unveiling a couple months ago at Mobile World Congress, it's billed as a durable smartphone for the active set, whether that's on the side of the mountain or atop a rather impressive piece of construction equipment.  

In fact, we watched this sucker hit the floor hard in Las Vegas. Hard. As in up all night gambling and you can't take it anymore hard. We've got hands-on video and more after the break.

Specs, if you're interested, are thus:

  • Operating System: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean 
  • Processor: MediaTek MT6577 Dual 1GHz Cortex™-A9
  • Size: 4.9 x 2.5 x 5.9 inches 
  • Weight: 5.99 oz 
  • Screen details: 4-inch WVGA 480x800 LCD, Capacitive Multi-touch, Gorilla glass, wet finger tracking 
  • Memory: 4GB storage + 1 GB 
  • 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 
  • Standby: Up to 9.5 days 
  • Connections: microUSB, microSD 32GB, 3.5mm audio 
  • GPS: A-GPS mode 
  • Temperature Operational range: -4º F to 131º F 
  • Drop testing: 5.9 feet onto concrete 
  • IP rating: IP67 waterproof to 3.2 feet for 30 min; impervious to dust

The B15 isn't going to win any awards for looks, but that's not really point, is it. This guy's meant to take a bit of a beating. And it's running Android 4.1. Jelly Bean, so at least it's in the same nickname as the latest version of Android. The 480x800 WVGA display is a bit tired, but, again. This one's about survivability.

 

Reader comments

Hands-on with the rugged Cat B15

33 Comments

Two questions:

Why do they never release a phone like this with upper end specs?

And is it really more durable than throwing a high end Otterbox on a phone?

Agreed. Are OEMs that afraid of the competition that a "no compromises" durable phone would bring? Naw, I think they are afraid that too many folks would no longer stay on the upgrade treadmill! Give me an HTC One with a MIL-spec durability/water resistance and I might not get another phone for the next 3+ years.

I think it's simply because the target consumers don't need it. This is like if HP would put a Titan in their computers. People that buy HP computer don't need that, and most of them don't even know what a Titan is, ans some might not even know what a graphic card is. It won't sell so they won't do it.

Take this example , I already heard something like this: "I don't want to buy a Nexus because I think Google are better phones. But again, Android phones are also a great 3rd option". So don't expect companies to make high end machines for those poeple. They are lost in this world, and we can't blame them. With so many phones, it's hard to keep up. We, Android enthusiasts, nerds, IT, etc., know all this but 90% of the people that buys cell phones just want something that won't break when it hits the ground so they can try to beat Angry Birds over and over again.

My final two cents, if you have an high end phone, you should take care of it. Rugged is a great option for those who work in a hard environment and they don't need high end phones.

"need" is not always a factor in phones these days. All most of us "need" is a phone, but we *want* features and specs. Some of us want features, specs and durability. I want the fastest specs and I work in a "hard environment", but alas there is not a large enough market for any manufacturer to produce something that has the tough side + specs side both maxed out.

Because not enough people want it. Not everyone trashes their phone on a regular basis. I have had 5 smartphones over the past 5 years and all of them are still perfectly functional, having never been dropped off the side of a mountain, run over by a backhoe, or eaten by a liger. I would never spend money on a high-spec ruggedized phone, and most people wouldn't either. Like you said, if someone wants a high end phone AND wants to protect it because they are a Navy Seal (or just a complete buffoon) they buy one of the many well-made cases.

I have it.
I like it.

Since it is designed to be "tough", it does not have to conform to a case.

It is inexpensive.

Durable, lightweight.

High end otterbox = $$.$$ + Phone $$$.$$ = > $350.00

Price, specs and coolness sold me, in that order.

Phil,
Something doesn't look quite right with the dimensions you have listed above. Can you clarify? If I were to go by the height/width/depth you have listed, the phone would almost appear to be a square. Unless I am just misreading it, which is very possible too. Lol.

man, just imagine what a 2.5" thick phone would feel like in your pocket all day

"Size: 4.9 x 2.5 x 5.9 inches "

haha...I think that he messed up on the specs. It is more like 4.92 x 2.75 x .59 inches.

Correct...it was. It was also made to be used in a warehouse environment. This is a phone that you give to your delivery driver to capture electronic signatures. This is not for ordinary people walking around. It's for a very specific audience. Nobody should be knocking this phone unless they understand its intention.

As a heavy equipment operator myself (running Cat Dozer's, etc.) I like this.. Not my style for specs but its aimed at taking a beating in the construction field of dirt, grease and being thrown around.. If promoted the right way by carriers to the construction crowd it will do well.

Not me... This is the reason I buy more cat. I only boycott companies that support gay marriage. I guess you don't us GE products either because they deal with Iran. Boycotts are for stupid people.

I'm be sarcastic. Don't roast me.

I've got an Epic 4g Touch and I've dropped it WAY harder than that and I've done it plenty of times, a few of those times, in water. I have never had an issue with mine, not even a scratch on my screen, and I have a $6 case on it. Maybe I'm just lucky, but with a phone holding the name of a popular construction brand, I was expecting to see the guy smash it onto the floor as hard as he could, not drop it from a standing height. That's a good test for an iphone, droid's are that durable by default with a $6 case.

I actually think it's a cool looking phone. I could see myself using it, if something awful were to happen to my HTC One.

I like this phone. Looks tough. But I wouldn't get it for myself, maybe for my boss though. That guy has an almost supernatural ability to break anything. Even with the best Otterbox cases on them. I'm still not sure how he does it. And I've yet to find anything that is capable of surviving for more than a week in his hands. He literally at one point purchased a Galaxy S3, then a Note 2, then another Galaxy S3 and then another Note 2 within a 3 week period. He kept breaking them. All had Otterbox cases on them. "It just fell." Always his excuse and I always look at him suspiciously when he says that and he always looks at me in a manner that basically says, "Go ahead. Press me for details. I won't give you any."

Lol. That seriously cracked me up. I know he says it in the video but it's slightly unclear, did you by chance catch the price on it?

Lol. That seriously cracked me up. I know he says it in the video but it's slightly unclear, did you by chance catch the price on it?