Smartphones are often delicate pieces of technology. The glass screens and thin metal casings may look pretty, but they’re not suited to some industries or locations like a construction site. Now DEWALT, known for its power tool line has come out with an Android phone that’s built so tough it doesn’t even need a case. The DEWALT MD501 also has a host of other features that are designed for job sites.
There’s all kinds of things that can happen to your phone on a job site or at a remote location. It can fall from a height, drop into mud, even get run over by a piece of heavy equipment.
How tough isDEWALT MD501?
The DEWALT MD501 is designed to withstand abuse. DEWALT says it’s resistant to dust and particles and waterproof up to 30 minutes if immersed in 2m of water. It’s also resistant to chemical spills and vibrations and it’s tested to operate in temperatures from -20 °C to 60 °C. I stepped on my test model, dropped it on a floor numerous times and even chucked it in the snow and doused it in my hot tub. It’s still working great and in fact never even shut down for a moment. Watch my video for a look at the tests and how the phone fared.
Lone Worker Protection
There have been cases where workers who are required to work alone or in remote locations have had to deal with emergencies. In 2014 a bear attacked a worker at a Suncor jobsite. In 2006 four people died at an old mine after being overcome one at a time by a lack of oxygen in a small hut.
Emergency help for solo workers
Now there’s a way to have insurance so that if something does happen to you and you’re unable to call for help, help will find you. The DEWALT MD501 has Lone Worker Protection from Global Mobile Communications installed on the device. A worker in distress can push one of the buttons on the side of the device to send out an audible and text alarm. That alarm will also send their GPS location and a message to their manager or colleague. An accelerometer-based alarm can also be configured so if the employee has a fall or ends up in a ‘man down’ scenario, an alert is also sent out.
Dual SIM cards for better connections anywhere
The DEWALT MD501 has another unique feature. Two SIM cards can be installed in the device, which means you can access two different cellular networks so that you can almost always get a signal.
If one carrier doesn’t have coverage in a remote area, switch to the other. The dual SIM card feature also means you can keep your personal or business life separate if you want.
OS & Processor speed
The phone runs the Android 6 Marshmallow operating system. The MT6735 1.3 GHz Processor will be as fast as something like a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. While the phone I tested came with just 16 GB ROM/2 GB RAM, you can add an external memory micro SD to boost yourself up to 64 GB.
How good is the camera in the DEWALT MD501?
Back in the day, and even today, the cameras in rugged smart phones were nothing special. They allowed you to capture basic images, but it was hard to think the photos looked anything close to good.
The DEWALT MD501 smartphone has a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 5MP front camera. I found the quality of the rear camera in particular camera to be quite good. Whether I was snapping photos of my dog, or close-ups of random things, the photos were great quality; definitely comparable to other smartphone cameras.
Whether you need image capturing to document things for the job, or just want to keep pictures of the kids close at hand,the camera in this phone can do the job.
Long lasting battery & wireless charging
A super strong and long-lasting battery lives inside this phone. What DEWALT calls “advanced battery technology” provides up to 36 hours heavy usage and up to a week standby in case you’re going to be a while before you’re near a plug. Indeed during my 10 days of testing (at very low usage levels, granted) I never needed to charge the device once.
When you do need more juice, the phone also supports wireless Qi charging, meaning there’s no need for cables. Just set your phone down on a charging pad and let it power up.
I’ll say, I used this phone down to its last ounces of battery. With just 1% remaining, I still got use out of it; enough to take a couple of photos, send several texts and make a 90 second phone call. The battery stuck at 1% for a while after that, not like my iPhone, which will die with 20% battery left.
Easy to hear & feel – use with gloves too
The vibration feature on the phone is startlingly strong. Whether you’re typing out a message or getting a vibrating alert for the arrival of an important email, it’s hard to miss this phone’s notifications. An very-amplified loudspeaker provides strong ringtone volume and good call clarity, so that you’re able to hear even above the sound of power tools and machinery.
A neat setting allows you to adjust the phone so you can use it even with gloves on. And not those special tech gloves either; you can wear any kind of gloves and still use the phone, so appendages stay warm.
Rugged testing – DEWALT MD501
I asked for suggestions on my Instagram page (@ErinLYYC) for ways I should put this phone to the test. Turns out folks were more interested in the phone’s camera and speed than its ability to stand up to rugged abuse. For example, people wanted to know if the quality of the camera is good, or how fast the processor is. What that tells me is that folks assume the phone’s outer shell it going to keep it protected — that’s a given. They want to know if it’s a good smartphone.
As I said earlier, the phone passed my strength and durability testing with flying colours. I have no doubt this phone will withstand serious abuse or accidents. The Android operating system is simple to use and has all the features you’d expect from an Android phone too. (Since this phone is more about the outside and the full package than the operating system, I won’t go into details about the Android OS and its features).
Overall I found the phone to be easy to use, with smart features construction workers, or others who work in harsher environments would really appreciate.
The DEWALT MD501 Android smartphone sells for $699.99CAD. Get more details from DEWALT’s website.