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What Do Apple, Samsung and Caterpillar Have in Common? Smartphones

Cat's latest ruggedized mobile device debuts in North America.

There's a new player in the mobile-device market, and it's not some high-tech startup from Silicon Valley or China.

It's Caterpillar Inc.

Yes, the same iconic, Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar that makes earth-moving machinery and construction equipment.

Bullitt Mobile Ltd., a British company that manufactures and markets Cat-branded ruggedized smartphones for Caterpillar, recently launched the Cat B15 smartphone in North America.

Although the Cat B15 has been available in Europe for several months, the smartphone made its North American debut at the CTIA mobile-technology conference earlier this week in Las Vegas.

"The Cat B15 is unique as it combines a distinctive design with the durability and reliability required to withstand tough conditions," said Richard Wharton, co-CEO of Bullitt Mobile. "That combination sets it apart from other mobile phones that typically look great, but fail to stand up to the rigors of an active lifestyle."

Designed for Workers and Outdoor Enthusiasts 

The tough-as-nails B15—which can survive a nearly 6-foot drop onto concrete—is designed to appeal to manufacturing and construction workers as well as outdoor enthusiasts and "anyone looking for a phone that withstands dropping, bumping, water and dust," according to Bullitt Mobile.

Featuring an aluminum body in a rubberized casing, the Cat B15 carries an IP67 certification, which means the mobile device is dustproof and waterproof (capable of being submerged in up to 3.2 feet of water for 30 minutes), according to the company.  

Users can work the smartphone's scratch-resistant, multi-touch screen—made from Corning Gorilla Glass—even when their fingers are wet.

"Every feature of the new Cat B15 has been carefully considered to deliver on the Cat-brand heritage of durable, industry-leading, high-quality design," Bullitt Mobile said in a news release.

But the device isn't all brawn. The brain of the Cat B15 is a dual-core 1-gigahertz processor, which powers the unit's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system.  

Other features of the $349 smartphone include a 5-megapixel camera; HD video recording; and 4 gigabytes of storage capacity.

Bullitt Mobile, which has produced several other ruggedized smartphones under the Cat name, said it expects "the rugged-device market in North America to grow rapidly."

"It is our ambition to be the No. 1 global rugged-device handset by 2015," Wharton added.

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