CAT B15 Review: The durable smartphone with nine lives

We review the CAT B15, a durable Android smartphone

Rating: 
2
Typical Price: 
£300.00
Pros: 
Durable, water, dust and shock proof, expandable storage
Cons: 
Bulky, no 4G, dim screen with muted colors, low quality camera, low-power processor
Verdict: 
The CAT B15 is a perfect fit for someone with an active lifestyle or a job working on a construction site if durability is your one and only concern. The CAT B15 stands out from other durable phones because of its touch-based smartphone functionality, making it a good option for those in fieldwork. However, other smartphone buyers might prefer a handset that looks nicer, with improved performance, connectivity and camera capabilities.

The Cat B15 is targeted to a specific audience: those working in fieldwork jobs and living active lifestyles, such as construction workers. If you fall into the latter category, your phone could even match the CAT trucks, excavators and loaders being used on site.  

There are a few impressive aspects of the rugged smartphone. For one, it can be dropped from 1.8 metres and for another it can also used with wet fingers, but other aspects left us wanting more. Read on to find out whether the CAT B15 is worth its £300 price tag.

Design and Display

At first glance, the CAT B15 can confuse onlookers. While I was using the handset, I had several people ask if I got a new case on my phone and someone even thought it was a GPS because of its size and appearance.

The smartphone has a screen similar in size and shape to the iPhone, making the handset look a bit like an iPhone in a bulky case. At 125mm long, 69.5 mm wide and 15mm thick it is slightly bigger than the iPhone, but double the thickness of the Apple’s iconic handset.

I thought the phone was chunky and unattractive and though I understand that someone focused mainly on durability might not care about its looks, the fact remains I got a few questioning stares whenever I used it.

The handset has an aluminum body with a rubber casing. All of the ports have a rubber seal, making it IP67 certified and meaning that it is dustproof and waterproof. The ports were easy to open and close, as was the phone’s back panel. There is a sliding latch that unlocks to remove the rubber backing and this gives access to the SIM and microSD cards, as well as the battery.

The power button is positioned on the top edge of the phone and is slightly difficult to press, as it lays flush with the case. The side volume and camera buttons stuck out a bit more making them easier to operate. These buttons are the signature CAT yellow, adding a bit of color to the handset. The plastic grooves on the back cover also help to grip the phone, particularly in wet conditions or while wearing gloves.

The 4-inch display has wet finger tracking and scratch proof Corning Gorilla Glass for added durability. It can be dropped at 1.8 metres and bounce back without a cracked screen. The 480x800 pixel resolution gives an average picture quality and looked dull in terms of brightness and color when compared to competing devices.

The Sony Xperia SP is available for a similar price to the CAT B15 and although it does not have the added durability, it has an HD 1280x720 pixel resolution that is both sharp and bright. The lack of a quality screen on the CAT handset proved to be annoying and it affected the overall usability of the phone.

Specifications

Length 125mm
Width 69.5mm
Thickness 15mm
Weight 170g
Screen Size 4-inches
Phone Style Touchscreen
Typical Price £300
Camera Resolution 5-megapixels
Video Resolution 720p
Flash No
Zoom Digital
Music Player Yes
Song Storage Yes
Speaker Yes
Radio Yes

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