Hands on: Cat B15 review

The brand that made your boots has a new Android phone

Hands on: Cat B15 review 

For
  • Durable
  • MicroSD support
  • Surprisingly good looking
  • Waterproof
Against
  • Weak processor
  • Low-end camera
  • Just 3G
 
You probably know Cat or Caterpillar as the guys in yellow and black, makers of construction equipment and those boots the cool kids were wearing for a little while. Now you can add smartphones to that list, thanks to the Cat B15.

Actually, the phone is made by Bullitt Mobile, a licensee of Cat, and this isn't its first smartphone rodeo. Its already made a couple of phones under the Cat name, and it launched the Cat B15 at MWC 2013 in Barcelona. This rugged device has been available in Europe for a little while, and is making its North American debut at a pre-show event for CTIA 2013.

Rubber outside, Jelly Bean inside

The Cat B15 has a rubber and aluminum shell with a sweet Android 4.1: Jelly Bean center. It's built to make calls and survive falls; with just a 5-megapixel camera and dual-core 1GHz processor, it's not designed for much else.
Cat B15 review
As we mentioned, the Cat B15 has been available in Europe for a while now, and can actually be purchased as an unlocked device directly from Cat for $349/£300. Representatives showing the device couldn't name the U.S. carriers that will carry it.

No 4G here, sadly

However, we'll tell you that the Cat B15 is a GSM phone, so therefore AT&T and T-Mobile are your likely candidates. No dice with GSM carriers Sprint and Verizon. It's also 3G only, so forget about up-to-date data speeds.
Cat B15 review
Like a lot of rubberized and ruggedized phones, such as the Kyocera Torque, the Cat B15 looks like a phone in a heavy rubber case. Phones like this are bulky by nature, but it does seem like Cat has slimmed down the B15 as much as possible.

Looks like a handsome screwdriver

The B15 is just shy of 5-inches, with a width of 2.7-inches and .58-inches of thickness. It also feels pretty good, and doesn't weigh too much, just 5.9 oz. Its rubber body casing and aluminum sides give it the look of a toolbox or an eye-catching screwdriver.
Cat B15 review
The display is a 4-inch 480 x 800 screen resolution. But get this: it's designed to detect and stand up to a wet finger, because the Cat B15 is waterproof at a depth of up to 1 meter, for thirty minutes. We actually had the chance to wet our digits and give the phone a swipe, and it did indeed work. Frequent snorkelers, we may have your next phone here.
Cat B15 review
The manufacturer also claims the B15 is "impervious to dust," which is likely thanks to all the rubber seals fitted in each and every port. The headphone jack seals up, as does the micro-USB charging port.

Treat it like a rented phone

It's also rated for a drop of up to six feet, which should be more than enough to survive a tumble from your hand to the floor. Cat representatives on hand were eager to drop the phone and prove this claim.
Cat B15 review
Getting back to the build, one of the things we like least about a smartphone case is how it makes the buttons difficult to push. Luckily, the B15's yellow rubber buttons weren't too bad. They didn't press as easy as an iPhone 5's unlock button, but they didn't take too much effort, either.

It opens up, no mallet required

You wouldn't think it, but the B15 actually has an open body design. It takes some doing, but you can unlatch the back and open it up to reveal a 2000 mAh battery and microSD slot. There's only 4GB of on board storage, so it's a good thing you can add an additional 32GB.
Cat B15 review
Of course, this isn't really a media centric or image snapping phone. The camera is only 5-mp and the processor is low-end, but flipping across menus and diving into the app drawer, the B15 was no slouch. We didn't detect any stuttering, and the browser opened with acceptable speed.
Cat B15 review
We'd guess that's Jelly Bean at work, as the B15 runs a version that's darn close to stock. We noticed just one toolbar that smacked of manufacturer meddling.

Early Verdict

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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

I really like to read reviews and see what's new about technology, on D-BLOG I share with you articles/reviews that I find interesting. I also write some reviews in romanian...

My second blog is D-NEWS , here are some movie reviews , my favorite songs or clips that I like...is more like a personal blog...so please don't get in because you'll get really bored.

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