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JCB Launch their next generation Toughphones

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Expected 2012
18th March 2012

JCB have been dabbling in the phone market for a while, sometimes in partnership with others as with the Motorola DEFY+ JCB Edition and sometimes under their own brand, as with the original JCB TOUGHPHONE which was built by Sonim.

Their recent range appears to have been sourced from Power Idea Technologies of China who sell the same handsets to a variety of resellers worldwide. These simple but rugged devices have gained a pretty good reputation with users, and it's no surprise to see that at least two of the three new phones announced are from the same firm - the JCB Toughphone Sitemaster 2 and JCB Toughphone Sitemaster 3G.

 JCB Toughphone Range
Left to right: JCB Toughphone Sitemaster 2, Sitemaster 3G, Pro Smart.

The Sitemaster 2 is an IP67 certified GSM-only "candy bar" phone with a 2 megapixel camera, a torch and an FM radio. The Sitemaster 3G adds 3G support but is only specified to IP54, which is still pretty darned tough. These are both fairly basic devices, but certainly with enough features to get the job done in most cases.

The most interesting device is the JCB Toughphone Pro Smart, an IP67 certified Android 2.3.5 device with a 3.2” display, 5 megapixel camera and an 800 MHz processor. From the press photo we've seen, this is a pleasingly chunky device and is one of a very small number of rugged Android devices on the market. Again, JCB have bought this in from somewhere else (we don’t know where) and the exact same handset it also going to be available in other markets as the Caterpillar CAT B10.

These handsets look pretty good for a niche market. But do they go far enough? We feel that there's a real niche market for smartphones that are even more rugged than this. What about a rugged smartphone with a big screen and proper buttons or a tethered stylus so you can use it while wearing gloves? With a battery that will actually last a day on a charge? Yes, we know there are a couple of tablets like this, but something that can slip into a coat pocket would be nice. How about it, JCB?

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