JCB Shows Off Rugged Phones for U.S. Market

While shuffling around the show floor at CES Las Vegas this afternoon, we happened by the JCB booth. JCB manufacturers heavy duty construction equipment, so we were surprised to see that they had three phones at their booth. Fittingly designed for use on construction sites, these phones are nothing like the delicate touchscreen smartphones that have become so popular over the last couple of years.

The Toughphone line consists of three handsets. First up is the Tradesman, which JCB claims is the world’s first floating cell phone. It’s waterproof, dustproof, IP67 certified, packs Bluetooth, an FM Radio, a 1.44-inch colour display, and a torch. It currently retails for about $116 in the United Kingdom. 

Next is the dust- and water-resistant Sitemaster, which features a 2-inch TFT display, Bluetooth 2.0, a torch, and a laser pointer, and can withstand up to one ton of pressure and a 2m drop. The guys at the booth said they drove over it with one of their diggers (pictured above) and that the phone survived just fine. It currently retails for about $178. 

Also on show was the flashier Pro-Talk (below right), which is perfect those who need a ruggedised handset but don’t want to revert to dumphones completely. Also dust- and waterproof, this little guy has a 2.2-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth 2.0, a 2-megapixel camera, GPS, support for dual SIMs, and an addition eight channel two-way radio. Unfrotunately the extra features come at a price, and this phone is the most expensive of the three by a long shot. It’s currently retailing for £254.99 in the UK, which translates to about $396.

None of these phones are available in the U.S. at the moment, but JCB says it’s in talks with U.S. distributors and carriers and the company hopes to bring it to this side of the pond in the near future.

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.