Just as some people are put on this earth to create things, others are prone to destroy everything they touch. Those people should probably spend some time with the Caterpillar-branded CAT B15, an aluminum-and-rubber-clad Android smartphone that (inadvertently) encouraged people to work on their stress issues here at MWC.
Naturally, Caterpillar isn’t actually making the phones — it’s a very far cry from the engines and bulldozers that the company is better known for. The device itself is made by a licensee called Bullitt Mobile, a U.K.-based company whose sole reason for existing seems to be churning out these sorts of rugged handsets.
In fact, It’s actually rather hard to get a firm idea of how tough this thing actually is. Sure, it’s completely dust-proof (assuming all the ports are properly closed) and the 4-inch display is swathed in second generation Gorilla Glass, but it’s all sort of abstract until you hold the thing in your hand the feel the urge to heave it somewhere. In spite of its considerable chubbiness, the B15 is actually lighter than you’d expect, though it’s still going to elicit some stares should you shove the thing into your pocket.
In a classic case of brawn vs. brains, the B15 isn’t the snappiest thing you’ll ever see with its dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor and but it’s still got enough horsepower to handle most daily tasks. If anything, performance is aided by the fact that the particular build of Android loaded up on the B15 is totally stock — no garish, cumbersome UI to be found here.
And perhaps best of all, the 4-inch display recognizes touch input even when it’s wet — mostly. After a booth representative shot down my attempt to hurl the thing like baseball (not a huge loss, my fastball is pretty lousy), I settled for dunking the B15 in some water a few times. For the first few instances, things worked fine, but at some point you’ll eventually have to wipe the thing down for it to start behaving properly again. Hardly a big deal, but those of you looking for an Android-powered diving buddy will have to look elsewhere (especially because it’s only waterproof until you go deeper than 1 meter).
In the event that your current smartphone is just too puny to keep up with your lifestyle, the CAT B15 will be available in March for €395 — try not to hurt yourself until then.