back to article Caterpillar B15: The Android smartphone for the building site

There’s no doubt that smartphones are getting more robust. Both the Sony Xperia Z and the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 Active boast IP57-rated resistance to dust and water intrusion which is handy if you take your phone to the beach or the pool and come over all clumsy. Drop either of them out of a third-floor window on a …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like those rugged devices - shame the spec is always lacking.

    1. Dave 126

      >I like those rugged devices - shame the spec is always lacking.

      Yeah, but at least you now get most of the way there with high-end hardware- both the Galaxy S4 Active and Xperia Z are waterproof. Then all you need is a very sturdy case, if any are sold.

      (http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/09/galaxy-s4-active-hits-uk-shops-starting-at-495-contract-free/)

      Hopefully, toughness and waterproofing will become standard features for phones.

    2. LarsG
      Meh

      @Chris N

      Never a truer word said.

      Why do these people think that anyone working on a building site will need a bash resistant smart phone with less functions?

      Stick with whatever phone you want and buy a decent case for it, Lifeproof, Otterbox or Gumdrop etc.

      I work outdoors, go on site and have dropped my phone on a number of occasions, it survived.

      This CAT phone is trying to solve a problem that doesn't actually exist.

    3. Crisp

      Re: shame the spec is always lacking.

      The spec is: A rugged smartphone.

      From reading the article, it seems like they nailed it.

    4. N13L5
      Pint

      You know you can drive a car over your regular galaxy S4 too.

      And the active version you can drop into water or dust.

      All without getting stuck with ugly stick "styling" and sub-par hardware

  2. Steve Evans

    Interesting until the killer spec missing from the front page:

    "512MB of Ram"

    That would be lucky to get acceptable performance out of Gingerbread, but Jellybean?

    So very close to a useful phone to recommend, let down for the sake of another RAM chip. Stupid corner cutting fail.

  3. Gideon 1

    No led?

    Just install the Flashlight app.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: No led?

      One imagines builders have proper torches...

      1. Dave 126

        Re: No led?

        You'd have thought so, but torches can be like pencils or tape-measures... "It was here just a moment ago!"

        1. FartingHippo
          Facepalm

          ...torches can be like pencils or tape-measures...

          Pencils and torches i can understand: both are cylindrical and will roll quite happily under the washing machine or workbench or whatever.

          But tape measures? I must go through 4 or 5 a year. It might explain what the tooth fairy gets up to in the daytime, though.

          1. Dave 126

            Re: ...torches can be like pencils or tape-measures...

            ...and as soon as you return from buying a replacement tape-measure the original one comes out of hiding!

          2. Gideon 1

            Re: ...torches can be like pencils or tape-measures...

            I discovered stainless tape measures, they work even if it rains.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Trollface

          Re: No led?

          Mine stay on my key ring to my car keys. Although I think I need more gaffa tape to keep the lot taped up as a makeshift multitool... ;)

  4. Simon Rockman

    I'm surprised it uses a mini-SIM

    I got one for my son to take on a trip - he's working at an animal rescue centre in Thailand for the summer and was setting it up yesterday. I was surprised that it's a mini, not micro or nano SIM. That said he'll get a local SIM when he's out there and doesn't need to use the one in his S3,

    It does feel excellent.

    1. Dave 126

      Re: I'm surprised it uses a mini-SIM

      It's easier to fit a microSIM into an adaptor than it is to take a Stanley-knife to a miniSIM (doable, but a faff)

  5. ukgnome

    Dual sim? Is that Dual 3g sim or 1 GSM and one 3G?

    1. Velv
      Headmaster

      3G is a capability - an information transfer rate of at least 200 kbit/s. There is no such thing as a 3G phone or 3G SIM card, they are only 3G capable.

      GSM is an International Standard, which is update regularly and includes implementation details for "3G" in the form of UMTS.

      1. ukgnome

        Aha you are correct - I fudged my acronym - what I meant was the following.

        Are both SIM slots capable of using a 3G capable connection, as usually only one of the SIM slots can be used for this purpose which enables the 3G connectivity of the device. I thought the other slot wasn't able to utilise this particular function.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crap low-end out of date Android phone wrapped in a thick skin (which is lucky as people will be calling it names).

    The hunt for a rugged decent Android phone continues.

    1. Dave 126

      Galaxy S4 Active plus a tough case?

  7. Nanners
    Coat

    But...

    Will it blend?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sonim phones are not so tough

    I owned a Sonim (XP3300 Force) and loved it, but was dissapointed that learn through experience that the "waterproofing" was mostly superficial. For the most part the waterproofing isnt an integral part of the design, but rather some glued-on patches.

    After about a year of normal handling (to and from work in a bag or pocket) and normal temperature variation the glue breaks down and the rubber begins to peel away. The "built for life" Sonim was no longer waterproof, without my knowing. To me the peeling rubber at the grips was surely just a cosmetic problem, but after a heavy rainfall I found my phone to be no longer working. It had become wet inside, and examining the peeling areas I was shocked to find that the phone wasnt in the least "waterproofed" internally.

    Caveat emptor.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But did you damage

    The range rover?

    More importantly... What is a reg hack doing with a range rover "sport"???

    1. TheRealRoland
      Happy

      Re: But did you damage

      A bit jealous?

      Am thinking about one here on the far side of the pond, ok-ish towing capability, and still comfortable enough for longer road trips ( > 4 hrs one way). Yes, mileage not too great, but something's gotta give.

      Getting more and more difficult to find a car big enough for four adults, with enough head / legroom for a 6ft6-er :-(

      Back on topic: the meedja here are actively marketing the S4 Active; only on AT&T, not sure if it will be released for CDMA networks (looking at you, Verizon!)

      1. Lamont Cranston
        Coffee/keyboard

        ^ Downvoted for being pro-Range Rover?

        Gotta love these forums!

      2. dogged

        Re: But did you damage

        The Range Rover sport isn't that great on headroom, especially in the rear seats. The actual seat are set very high. I bump my head more in my neighbour's Sport than I do in the missus's Honda Civic.

        What you need is a Toyota HiLux. Best headroom of any 4x4 out there, in my experience.

        1. Getriebe
          Mushroom

          Re: But did you damage

          "What you need is a Toyota HiLux. Best headroom of any 4x4 out there, in my experience"

          And eminently saleaball points east of Baku - so I'm told!

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: But did you damage

            Why bother with four wheel drive, if you're not going off-road? Two wheel drive is enough to get you through some pretty rough terrain/weather*, and you'll save on petrol for the 99% of the time when you're driving on normal roads.

            * 20 year old Polo vs 6" of snow, up hill. No problem.

            1. Tom 38

              Re: But did you damage

              Stick decent tires on any car and snow is not a problem. The French police in the Alps use Fiat Pandas with snow tires.

            2. Marshalltown

              Re: But did you damage

              Good point. Here in the USofA the use of 4X4 mode is often by citiy types getting to the ski areas. 4-High is definitely useful in bad weather, though you encounter the occasional knot head who ignored the advice about maximum speed. They don't understand why the vehicle smells bad now and has smoke leaking out from under it.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: But did you damage

              Why bother with four wheel drive, if you're not going off-road?

              You clearly have never drifted diagonally in the snow :)

              It depends on where you life. It's indeed no use on a Kensington tractor, but I wouldn't want to be without in the mountains.

        2. Hud Dunlap
          Facepalm

          Re: But did you damage

          One thing Range Rovers can handle is water like this. It is on reason why I never take my Honda Insight out in the rain in San Antonio.

          Only my Landrover.

          http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/slideshow/San-Antonio-flooding-May-25-2013-63231/photo-4684987.php

      3. A J Stiles
        Coat

        Re: But did you damage

        The existence of multiple, incompatible mobile telephony standards preventing you from moving easily from one network to another is a feature, not a bug; and all those Godless Commies who mandated GSM instead of letting The Free Market decide on a single standard for all networks will be sorry one day. Now go and get yourselves some free medical treatment and play in the gun-free streets.

    2. h3

      Re: But did you damage

      Is it the one with the 9000W Meridian hi fi ? If it is then you should have it. Meridian hi fi stuff sounds divine.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Crisp

    No NFC reader?

    They missed a trick there. This would be a great device for workers to use to check out stock and such.

  11. Barry Rueger

    Touchscreen?

    My first question is always the same: how useful is the touch screen when it rains? My admittedly "old" Nexus S can't even answer a call if there's the slightest bit of rain falling. One or two drops on the screen and you can't unlock it for love nor money.

    Makes me long for a real physical button.

    Also worth noting that caterpillar is among the most scummy, anti-union, anti-worker companies on the planet. Having their name on your gear may make you mighty unpopular at some job sites.

    http://www.therecord.com/opinion-story/2599009-caterpillar-closing-an-attack-on-unions/

  12. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Samsung XCover 2 deserves a mention

    Not quite as tough as the Caterpillar phone but came out pretty well in the comparison in the c't magazine: based on an S3. I picked mine up sans SIM for € 260 because I'm looking for a phone that I feel okay about using on my bike. Certainly not as slick as the highend phones but it does the job and has a separate camera button.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    Chinese smartphone test.

    Can you beat a hijacker to death with it and still call afterwards?

  14. Al Taylor

    Performance

    "That would be lucky to get acceptable performance out of Gingerbread, but Jellybean?"

    I'm finding that Jelly Bean runs just fine on machines with a dual-core 1GHz chip and 512MB of RAM. Even with half a dozen apps open in the background there's little if any noticeable hesitation in the UI.

    1. h3

      Re: Performance

      The cost savings shouldn't make it a sensible thing to do on a phone costing more than £50 no excuse. Put up the price accordingly if necessary.

    2. ukgnome

      Re: Performance

      According to http://source.android.com/compatibility/4.1/android-4.1-cdd.pdf

      Device implementations MUST have at least 340MB of memory available to the kernel and userspace. The 340MB. MUST be in addition to any memory dedicated to hardware components such as radio, video, and so on that is not under the kernel's control.

      Device implementations MUST have at least 350MB of non-volatile storage available for application private data.

      That is, the /data partition MUST be at least 350MB.

  15. Euripides Pants

    "clear blue bathroom sealant" WTF?!

    OK, is it clear or is it blue?

    1. cosymart
      Meh

      Re: "clear blue bathroom sealant" WTF?!

      Especially the "blue" bit???

    2. miknik
      FAIL

      Re: "clear blue bathroom sealant" WTF?!

      You are confused, clear does not mean colourless.

      The glass in my car is clear and blue.

      1. Euripides Pants

        Re: You are confused

        Yes, that's why I asked the question.

  16. Paul Smith 1
    Stop

    Err, Health and Safety anyone??

    Hmmm let me see now, some builder chap is - say - up on the 50th floor of a tower block under construction, working with some heavy duty, dangerous plant that requires his undivided attention - fellow builder chaps relying on him for their safety and he's more interested in texting his significant other about "What's for tea tonight.... hope it's chips it's chips...!" and ..... ooops there's his buddy up in flames covered in hot bitumen.... or "look out below, the good lift is on it's way down minus the brakes, complete with a payload of bricks"....

    Maybe it's your local Bob the builder working on your roof, his indestructible Mobe goes off, he fumbles for it, he stumbles and oh, dear 999 anyone....?

    Yeah, nice one CAT, be the HSE are loving your new product just as much as you are....

    Mobile phones DO NOT belong on the building site. Most contractors I deal with here in the UK have a 100% ban on use of mobile phones anywhere except the site offices or mess cabins. Where's the need CAT??

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I *so* want one - provided it can be rooted

    I'm in the market for a second phone (primary is an iPhone), and I'm interested by this phone for 3 reasons:

    1 - rugged means it handles travel well

    2 - swappable battery. It means I just carry a spare battery and have that phone alive for longer (although the battery life of an S2 is probably OK for that too, and that has more processor/storage

    3 - it seems to be capable enough to be rooted. I don't want to have a Google account.

    So, this one will be on my list for evaluation. I agree it's a pity they missed the LED.

  18. severs1966

    Battery life - no excuse this time

    Current smartphone batteries are far too small and have typically a 1-day lifespan between charges. This happens mainly because of the quest for slimness having reached ludicrously anorexic levels.

    In a 15mm thick phone, there should be room for a chunky battery. So a "typical" smartphone battery is rubbish in context. 2000mAh? in a phone this size? It should be at least twice that amount, if not more.

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