DeWalt — yes, the drill maker — gets into the mobile business with rugged MD501 smartphone

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DeWalt, a name familiar to anyone who loves power tools (and who doesn’t?), is jumping into the mobile market with the rugged MD501. It’s waterproof, has a good variety of high-end features and looks like you could use it to pound nails.

The feature list is actually pretty impressive: dual SIM, micro SD slot, glove-friendly 5-inch HD screen, wireless charging and an expanded array of sensors. It’s even “resistant to chemical spillages and vibrations,” for those of you who work with acids or vibrate a lot.

This thing isn’t small, and it isn’t meant to be. It’s twice as thick as an iPhone, and weighs nearly twice as much. But that’s kind of the point.

dewalt_faceIt’s part of a trend, and a welcome one I might add, of making phones that won’t shatter into a thousand pieces if you so much as look at them wrong. Cat (née Caterpillar), known primarily for diggers and backhoes and the like, has led the way with an increasingly attractive series of devices — the latest of which is the S60, which even includes a thermal camera. I think we can all agree that is awesome.

The tool makers don’t make the phones themselves, or at least not quite. Cat licenses its brand to Bullitt Mobile, and DeWalt did the same with Global Mobile Communications. With any luck we’ll see phones branded with Stanley, Black & Decker and John Deere soon, as well.

DeWalt’s phone is due to debut in the U.K. this month or next, and is coming to other countries an unspecified period afterwards. We’ve contacted the company for more information, and will get a hands-on as soon as possible.