For a handset to survive being dropped out of a window, driven over and generally thrown all over the place, it’s got to be made of strong stuff. The JCB Toughphone is on the heavy side, but this only adds to the assurance that it can withstand a hit. Likewise the JCB yellow and black colour scheme gives it additional credibility.
Simplicity is a key factor for the JCB Toughphone. You don’t want to be messing around with various key combinations when you’re halfway up a crane for example. Navigation around the phones limited features is a cinch, while the keys are spaced out enough that they can be easily found while wearing gloves.
If the JCB Toughphone has a weakness, then it’s the lack of features. However, many will argue that for the purpose the phone was built for, a camera, 3G or a media player would be unnecessary luxuries. The handset does boast Bluetooth as well as being shock, water, dust and drop resistant.
Sonim and JCB claim that the Toughphone is the toughest handset around and after putting it through its paces, and then some, we’d be inclined to agree. The phone may be lacking in features, but it certainly lives up to its name.
While only offering an average battery life, due to the lack of 3G or camera for example, the handset is not going to drain juice from the 240 minutes talktime or 200 hours standby time.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:51:38 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The JCB Toughphone is named this for a reason. It withstands pretty much anything you throw at it, bar maybe a nuclear holocaust.
Feature-wise it?s somewhat lacking.
Please try the following: 1. Drop the phone from a fourth floor window. 2. Take your phone with you into the shower. 3. Drive over your phone and feel free to reverse over it. These were just a few of the suggestions we were given when we received Sonim’s JCB-branded ‘Toughphone’. So off we set to see if this bruiser really was as tough as it claimed.
Formerly know as the Sonim XP1, as well as sporting the JCB name, the Toughphone is decked out in its namesake’s bright yellow and black colour scheme. The keys are big enough and spaced out enough to be able to find when wearing gloves. Encased in some rubber body armour, the phone is meticulously sealed both in terms of the front keypad and the back cover where the battery and SIM are kept, to stop any fluid getting inside. Indeed the back of the handset is screwed on (although you can open it with a firm fingernail) to avoid the cover coming off, say if it falls out of a fourth floor window for example.
Due to the hustle and bustle of the streets of London, we found no safe place to launch the Toughphone out of a fourth floor window. We therefore had to settle for a bedroom window on a second floor home. But rest assured, we did throw it with some force onto the concrete below. The result? Apart from a slight scuff on the top of the handset it was as good as new. The handset remained switched on throughout its descent and consequent impact. We actually tried it a further two times and still the Toughphone remained in tact.
The second test was the turn of the car. Placing the phone in the middle of the road, we drove our Rover 214 over the handset, with the screen facing up. For good measure we followed through with the back wheel. Parking up we were somewhat surprised to find the handset completely oblivious to the fact it just had in excess of a 1,000 kilo’s driven over it. Not so much as a scratch on it, barring the slight scuff from the previous lobbing out the window. We were beginning to believe the PR hype – incidentally we were told that the JCB Toughphone had withstood a stunt that saw it being shot with a glock. Sadly we had no weaponry to hand.
It can be sweaty work trying to destroy a phone, so it was off for a warm shower with the Toughphone in hand. Pointing the showerhead directly on the handset for a good thirty seconds the Toughphone remained in perfect working condition. We even managed to receive a call while showering – and though it was a bit difficult to hear as a result of the rushing water, the actual call quality was unaffected.
After stamping on it some more, kicking it around and generally being rather careless with it, we eventually had to concede that the Toughphone really was a bit of a hard so and so.
Spec wise, the JCB Toughphone may fall short. The display is fairly low res, offering only 65,000 colours and 128x160 pixels. There’s no camera and surfing the net relies on the lethargic GPRS connectivity. However, dismissing the handset on these shortcomings is to miss the entire point of the JCB Toughphone.
Its robustness makes it ideal for use on a building site or alike and it’s this scenario that Sonim and JCB have accommodated for. From the accompanying clip belt and the ultra-loud ringtones, through to the Push-To-Talk technology (this function needs to be subscribed to separately), the Toughphone is ideal for taking the everyday bangs and knocks that occur in a busy labouring environment.