There is no question that we outdoor enthusiasts can be a bit tough on our gear. Most of the items we use are designed to be rugged enough to withstand the punishment we put out, but some things are just not built to survive in the environments in which we thrive. Take most of our popular smartphones. Sure, they’re wonderful for staying in touch while on the go and they offer up far more information than we ever thought possible in a device so small. But they aren’t exactly the best companion on an adventure, where they risk getting submerged in water, dropped off a cliff or smashed against a rock.
The new Caterpillar B15 smartphone hopes to alleviate those problems. The device is designed to withstand the kind of abuse that you would expect on a construction job site, which also makes it ideal for heading into the backcountry. The phone has been built to be able to withstand a drop of 5.9 feet (1.8 meters) or stay submerged under 3.2 feet (1 meter) of water for up to 30 minutes. It is dustproof, scratch resistant, and the 4-inch capacitive screen can even be operated with wet fingers. Additionally, it is rated to operate in temperatures ranging from -4ºF/-20ºC to 131ºF/55ºC, making it an ideal companion for extreme environments.
The Cat designers didn’t skip on the technology inside the B15 either. It is running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and features a dual core 1 GHz processor. It has a 5MP rear-facing camera and a second front-facing VGA cam for video conferencing. It even has a built-in FM radio for those who don’t want to listen to their own tracks or stream from Pandora or Spotify. The battery is rated for an impressive 16.3 hours of talk time or up to 26 days of stand-by. I would have liked to have seen a bit more onboard memory however as it ships with just 4GB, which is pretty anemic in this day and age. You can add MicroSD cards to raise that total to 32GB however.
All of this comes in a relatively svelte package that weighs in at 6 ounces or 170 grams. Not bad for a phone designed to take punishment on this level. Price is just $349.99, which isn’t bad either all things considered. If you’re in the market for a rugged smartphone, this might be your best choice at the moment.
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