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