CAT B35 4G Smartphone Review
Simply sturdy. Designed to function in extreme environments, the CAT B35 stands out as a robust dumb phone with GPS capabilities. Though it boasts a 4G modem, the app selection leaves much to be desired. Dive in to discern if the CAT B35 can handle everyday challenges.
Design and Durability
Modern smartphones might falter in challenging conditions like construction sites. Vulnerable due to their expansive displays and multiple ports, they are susceptible to damage upon falls or accidental liquid submersion. Conversely, feature phones, known commonly as mobile phones or cell phones, benefit from compact designs and smaller screens, rendering them sturdier. Additionally, these phones typically come with a friendlier price tag than smartphones, making replacements cost-efficient.
The CAT B35 addresses these concerns. It’s encased in a rubber layer, ensuring all its connectors remain watertight. For those often wearing gloves, the physical keypad is a blessing, eliminating the struggles posed by large touchscreens typical in many smartphones.
For context, we’ve juxtaposed the B35 against rivals like the CAT S31, CUBOT King Kong, Elephone Soldier, and Doogee S55. Let’s ascertain if the B35, a recent addition to our office, can rival other budget outdoor smartphones.
Visually, the B35 is straightforward. Unlike the Nokia 8110, it doesn’t adopt any intricate sliding mechanisms. Its outer shell, manufactured from rubberized plastic, contains horizontal grooves enhancing grip. Nevertheless, a grippier texture would have been preferable, especially considering its primary use scenarios.
Measuring 13.9 millimetres (~0.55 in) in thickness, it aligns with other rugged smartphones. Its rounded edges make it ergonomic, fitting comfortably in hand. Furthermore, it comes with IP68 certification, implying dustproof capabilities and water resistance up to 1 metre (~3 ft) when its rubber covers are sealed. When charging, its water and dustproof attributes are compromised. The robust rubber covers, though slightly challenging to remove, promise durability. Opening the SIM card tray might necessitate tools to prevent nail breakage.
In terms of RAM and storage, the B35 lags behind even the most affordable smartphones. Offering 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage, it’s reminiscent of early Android phones like the HTC Desire. Out of the box, only 1 GB of storage is available, but expandable storage up to 32 GB via microSD is supported. Dual and single SIM variants are available, but only the former is currently accessible in Central Europe. Price-wise, expect to spend between €80 and €100 (~$90/$113).
Outfitted with KaiOS, the B35 echoes features seen in phones like the Nokia 8110. While its operating system is user-friendly, the pre-installed apps – Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Search, and YouTube – are scanty. The absence of messaging apps feels like a missed opportunity. Still, KaiOS lets users lock or block misplaced or stolen devices – a commendable security feature.
Communication & GPS
When it comes to Wi-Fi and LTE, the B35 meets basic requirements. It’s compatible with IEEE 802.11 b/g/n standards and can connect to 2.4 GHz networks. However, faster ac Wi-Fi or 5 GHz networks remain unreachable. While LTE support is ample for Europe, connectivity might be inconsistent elsewhere.
Browsing on the B35 isn’t the smoothest experience. Websites load slower compared to budget smartphones, and the screen feels constricted. However, it can serve as a temporary browsing solution until a faster device is available. In urban areas, LTE reception proves satisfactory.
Equipped with a GPS module and Google Maps, the B35 can assist with rudimentary navigation. Although it identifies locations, the process is somewhat slow. Route viewing is possible, but advanced navigation features are unfortunately missing.
Telephone Features & Call Quality
Supporting voice over LTE (VoLTE), the B35 ensures clear call quality. Initiating calls is seamless and intuitive, allowing direct dialling from the home screen. The device also facilitates contact imports from Google, Outlook, or a microSD card.
The B35’s camera performance is underwhelming. With just a 2 MP rear sensor, the photos produced are grainy and lack finesse. Absence of a front-facing camera will disappoint selfie aficionados. While 720p video recording is possible, ambient noise interference might be a concern during recordings.
Accessories & Warranty
Every purchase comes with a charger and USB cable. Although CAT doesn’t market B35-specific accessories, generic ones like the “Active Signature Leather Phone Holster” are available. The B35 includes a 24-month manufacturer’s warranty.
Input Devices & Operation
Transitioning from modern smartphones to the B35 might require an adjustment period. Text input relies solely on numeric keys, with some app-specific inconsistencies. Thankfully, the device’s keys have distinct pressure points, ensuring tactile feedback. But, their size might pose challenges for gloved users.
The B35 boasts a 2.4-inch screen with a 320 x 240 resolution. This resolution feels inadequate, with pixels being discernible upon close inspection. Despite its brightness level matching other budget outdoor phones, black hues appear gray, resulting in a lacklustre visual experience.