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The CAT B15Q Smartphone

I have probably seen 20 different handsets come and go during the last ten years that purport to be robust, waterproof, shockproof or even indestructible and to be honest they have all been a disappointment. We can probably all remember one handset of this type (think Samsung Solid, Nokia 5210, JCB/Sagem etc etc) and anyone who used these will have a similar story to tell of either bad signal, bad quality or just not being as robust as the manufacturers have intimated. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to sell someone a device that is supposed to be hard-wearing only to be sending it off for repair within the first 6 months.


With this in mind I was sceptical to say the least when asked to test out the new CAT B15Q smartphone. Fully expecting another fail I received the handset a week ago and was pleasantly surprised..

The first thing that struck me was the design. The handset looks great and feels even better in the hand. Gone is the cheap-feel rubbery casing of previous robust handsets and replaced with a metallic and tough feeling outer casing. The screen is inset a small amount to combat smashing if it is dropped and for once the handset feels like it could really do the job. In addition to the usual IP67 certification for dust and waterproofing we also see a military grade MIL-STD-810G certification for salt, dust, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation, transport and thermal shock resistance! Now that all sounds very impressive but what about the actual phone..

Well, the B15Q is running Android KitKat and the operating system, as most Android users will know, is stable and efficient. All the latest smartphone features are there and the screen resolution is impressive (stand aside Samsung Solid et al.). The camera is excellent and the screen and operating system is very responsive. All good so far so I decided to test out the signal in some known bad areas in my locality. Not only did the handset perform well during this test, it outperformed my Galaxy S5 for signal in these areas. This was a huge surprise as usually you trade some reception quality due to the type of casing used on these devices.

So what about battery life. Well I tested this over two days on a single charge, using social media and email functions in addition to the usual text and calls I make in a working day. The battery lasted nearly two days which I have to say was unexpected. Even with my S5 I only get 2 days worth at best.

So what are the downsides? well the handset is quite heavy compared to some smartphones and I guess it does not look as chic as the latest iPhone or S6 but do the target market for this type of device really go by looks or weight? I guess that they do not.

All in all I see the CAT B15Q as the first really robust handset that can be taken seriously. I sold the model on to a friend of mine who works in construction and I have already received further orders for the device from the civil engineering firm that are looking after the project he is working on. I hope they continue to innovate this product as it is by far the best in its class and the best I have seen.

Benchmark Telecoms can offer this handset with a full support package for as little as £25/month. To find out about this package, and all our other products and services, please head to www.benchmarktelecoms.com

The Times They Are A-Changin'!!

In 1995 when I first joined the industry I was amazed at how the new ‘digital’ networks and phones provided so many new features for the end user. Featureless handsets and variable call quality were replaced by smaller, neater devices with wondrous add-ons such as ‘text-messaging’ and games (who could forget Nokia’s ‘Snake’!!). Coupled with this the networks could provide you with accurate call records, albeit a few days old, in addition to cheaper tariffs and bundles to take advantage of these exciting new developments. Digital devices could also be barred and never cloned, a problem that was becoming more and more prevalent with the analogue setup. Also, instead of 2 or 3 tariffs you had a larger range of price points to choose from hoping to cater for everyone.

Fast-forward to today and the big difference is the data bundles now being offered with tariffs in order for smartphone users to send email, surf the web and play games online. This is however where the innovation seemed to end. Networks still have control over every aspect of your mobile account and getting hold of your own call information, changing tariffs, adding bundles, barring numbers is still time-consuming and sometimes even not allowed to be done by the end user! Tariffs are confusing and have fixed price points, never seeming to fit perfectly with each business. With the amount of revenue these networks generate you would think that they could hand over some of these features to the end users?

This is why we, at Benchmark Telecoms, decided to work with plan.com. They have a fresh and new approach to providing mobile services that focuses on the customers needs before the networks. Bespoke tariffs for each customer (yes, tariffs tailored to each individual business) are just the beginning. Consider these scenarios below and tell me that it isn’t better to be dealing with a company like plan.com!

Customer has his handset stolen while away in Spain. With the old network model, the customer would need to find a phone, call his network provider (holding queue, overseas call centre, data protection questions and so on) and ask them to bar his handset. He could ask if any calls had been made but would not really know for another few days if this had not only cost him his handset but also a high bill at the end of the month! With one of our customers all you need to do is find a browser (hotel, laptop, friend’s smartphone) log onto the portal and bar the handset yourself. You could then look at his usage for the day (yes that’s right, you get same-day usage reports) and find out if it had been used. The portal will even tell you who had been called or text and how much data had been used! You can even request a new sim card to be sent out. Job done.
One of the employees of a business has left their position but hasn’t returned their handset, saying they could not find it. The administrator can log onto the portal, check the validity by looking at usage right up to an hour ago, and bar the handset himself. He can then email direct from the portal and request a new sim be sent out.
Customer realises he has used more data this month due to using less WiFi. He logs onto the portal, checks how much he has used this month up until an hour ago and can increase the bundle himself. How much easier could it be? No more overcharging for data!!

These developments now give businesses more control than ever on their mobile account and it has been long overdue. At least one provider knows what businesses want, and we at Benchmark Telecoms welcome them with open arms.

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