The JCB SiteMaster 2 Toughphone is understandably thick and bulky, as the tough rubberised frame is designed to endure the most extreme conditions. It survived our tests with ne'er a scratch
The colourful interface is smooth, friendly and responsive, while texting is surprisingly easy considering the numeric keypad. Even the compact screen isn't much of an issue, although listening to music is a pain through the Micro USB side-mounted slot
A basic two-megapixel camera takes bog-standard shots, but you get a manual flash and plenty of useful features, including a currency convertor, voice memos and a calendar
We saw no kind of slowdown, thanks to the simple interface
Battery life is decent, with around five hours of talk time on a single charge. You likely won't be using this phone to play games or browse the web, so it'll survive a long time on standby
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/3/2012 12:52:06 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Seriously tough,friendly interface, plenty of useful features
Compact screen, bulky
The JCB SiteMaster 2 Toughphone is one rugged little demon. In fact, if the apocalypse was to come tomorrow, and humankind was wiped from the earth, this phone and a colony of cockroaches would be all that's left. Not only can it withstand dust and water attacks, it can tolerate up to a ton of pressure and at least a 2m drop. Anyone scared of dropping their mobile in the toilet need worry no longer.
Aimed at builders, labourers and anyone demanding a super-tough mobile that can survive extreme conditions, the SiteMaster 2 Toughphone certainly looks the part. A bright yellow rubberised body would be hard to misplace, and it's a chunky beast too so you'll feel it in your pocket. It's surprisingly light, though, considering its girth. A slot at the top can be used to tie it to whatever you fancy.
So how does the frame hold up to extreme punishment? Well, we're happy to report that it survived being submerged in a sink, dropped from head height and generally attacked with sharp implements. If you work in a rough environment, or like hurling yourself off mountains at the weekends, this phone is a worthy and hardy companion. You even get a wind-up charger thrown in, for those wild weekends away.
When you stop throwing the phone around and actually try using it, you'll find a colourful retro interface waiting. You don't get a touch-screen, so you navigate through the grid of icons using the directional pad, and thankfully the buttons are responsive and menus load up instantly. Aside from the usual contacts lists, user profiles and call histories, you get quite a few other features to play with.
A built-in calendar allows you to set up reminders, complete with alarms, so you never forget an important meeting again. The world clock feature lets you skip around a map of the world, checking out the local times, while a simple notes function is perfect for shopping lists and other scrawls. You also get a calculator, currency convertor and even an ebook reader (although you'll need to download your own ebooks and stick them on the phone first).
Of course, the tiny two-inch screen isn't an ideal way to take in a classic, nor is it perfect for enjoying videos, although you can put 3GP movie files on to watch if you like. The SiteMaster 2 Toughphone works better as a music player and FM radio, but you can't use standard 3.5mm headphones. You need to use Micro USB earphones, a pair of which is bundled in the box.
Our main complaint is that the USB port is on the side of the phone, which is awkward when the ToughPhone is in your pocket. We'd prefer the port on top of the phone, so the earphones come straight out. The phone has very little on-board storage for your media and photos, but a microSD slots accepts cards up to 8GB, giving you enough space to carry hundreds of albums or thousands of snaps around.
A basic two-megapixel camera takes standard shots, although you need to manually operate the flash (which didn't work on our test model) using a button on the side of the phone. If you're feeling creative, you can even edit your pics directly on the phone, cropping them and adding a frame. Check out our masterful effort with our loveable Android friend:
The editor isn't the easiest in the world to use, but it's another example of an unexpected feature adding extra value for money.
Texting is done via the numeric keypad, with three to four letters assigned to each number. The predictive text does a great job of working out what you're trying to say based on which buttons you push, and you can scroll through different possible words if its first choice isn't correct. It's surprising how fast you can belt out a message once you're used to it.
You can also get online if needed, using a basic WAP browser. Simple WAP-enabled pages load quickly but navigating around them is a stilted affair, and we'd only resort to it if we were desperate to find out the latest footy scores.
The JCB SiteMaster 2 Toughphone can be yours for just £125, which is good value considering how incredibly solid it is. The retro interface is surprisingly smooth and friendly, and you get plenty of useful features. If you need a rugged mobile that'll survive all kinds of punishment, this is a sure bet.