CAT B15 Review
Caterpillar make great construction equipment, but can they make great phones?
Everyone knows the iconic yellow excavators and bulldozers with CAT printed on the side as they are some of the most commonly seen machines on construction sites around the globe. There’s also a range of CAT safety clothing for builders and workers which has become popular over the last few years, but did you know that CAT also make tough mobile phones?
Does it come in CAT Yellow?
When we received the handset (yes, it came in a Caterpillar Yellow box) we were pleasantly surprised - it wasn't CAT Yellow!
It looks good, really good, and it fits nicely in the hand. The handset isn't as heavy as you'd expect, considering its metal and glass construction, and there is also a healthy amount of rugged rubber surrounding the handset. It feels like a premium handset and one that could take a good drop or two.
Hardware and software
In terms of specifications the CAT B15 is up there with the best of them, though slightly outrated now by this year's flagship handsets from the likes of Apple, HTC and Samsung. Yet, it still performs fantastically and will be running well for years to come.
The handset is running on a 1GHz dual-core processor with 512 MB RAM pushing the handset forward. This all sits behind the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, one of the latest versions currently offered by Google, which helps to ensure that the handset has access to the latest apps from Google's Play Market. It all ensures great functionality and features that hit far beyond the usual tough phone offerings. With 4GB of onboard storage it probably won’t be long before you'll find yourself needing to expand with a MicroSD Card, but fortunately, the CAT B15 accepts cards up to 23GB in size.
A removable 2000 mAh battery keeps this handset running all day long, providing a standby time of up to 26 days (single-sim) or 19 days (dual-sim) with an estimated talk-time of up to 16 hours, which is not bad by any means. The handset itself is of a pretty average size and weight - the dimensions being 25 x 69.5 x 14.95mm and weighing in at 170g.
Within this frame lies a 4" WVGA (480x800 pixel) Capacitive Multi-touch display, the screen is made from Gorilla Glass so is more than tough enough for most eventualities. Another interesting feature is 'Wet Finger Tracking' which enables you to continue using the screen with wet hands or while out in the rain - a great added bonus for those who work in wetter environments.
Durability, connectivity and features
As this handset is manufactured by one of the providers of tough, durable machines for the construction and agriculture sectors you'd expect the handsets produced to live up to that same quality.
The CAT B15 is IP67 certified, which means that the handset is waterproof up to 1m for 30 mins, is impervious to dust and particles and is shock proof. The handset can survive drops of up to 1.8m and has been certified with Military Standard 810G which states that it is resistant to shocks, category 4 vibrations and works within a range of various operating temperatures (-20 degrees Celsius to 55 degrees Celsius).
One of the main staples of smartphone use these days is the 'point-and-shoot' camera and the 5MP camera on the CAT B15 is a capable snapper. The camera produces clear shots and anyone using this handset as their day-to-day camera will not be wanting. The camera is easily accessed via the handset menu or by using the dedicated camera button on the right side of the device, between the volume rockers.
The only feature that is missing from the camera is a flash, there is no bulb on the rear of this handset so that means no added lighting during those darker photographic environments (this also means that there is no torch function), not the biggest issue in the world but it feels like a missed opportunity for the rugged device.
What's in the box?
Inside the box you'll find the usual pieces of phone information, user manual, headphones, a UK 3-pin charger, MicroUSB-to-USB cable for charging and PC-to-Phone data transferring, and the 2000 mAh battery.
The headphones don't offer the very best in terms of sound quality, but we didn't expect them to. There isn't much more to say in terms of accessories, as they're what you’ll find with any mobile handset purchase.
CAT wanted to make a great impression on the tough phones market with this device and they have managed to release a handset that, in our opinion, will continue to please and be valued for many years to come.
Sure, it might not be as stylish as an iPhone or as superfast as the latest Samsung handsets, but can they do what the CAT B15 does? Which is to be fully submerged in water and still come out ringing, be useable in a dusty environment or down on the sandiest of beaches or even stand up to being dropped onto concrete? Any iPhone owner will show you their cracked screens as an answer to that question.
We feel that any builder, surveyor, architect, lone worker, or extreme sports enthusiast could not find themselves better equipped than if they arm themselves with the CAT B15.