DeWalt MD501 Smartphone

Like all new phones that arrive on the market there will be the critics who claim that it is overpriced or has out dated software or ugly but then they tell me beauty is in the eye of the holder. The MD501 is not sleek and sure as hell, is not pretty but it is robust and depending upon the market that the phone is supposed to reach it will fit the bill.
The phone is marketed towards the Civil Engineering and Construction Industry as such apart from being built like a Main Battle Tank the ringtone is loud; very loud and is likely to cause a coronary for any unsuspecting Librarian engrossed in the works of A. A Milne.
Things have come a long way since the days of Antonio Meucci and Alexander Graham Bell were creating the foundations of what would be become a global industry that is expected to reach over 1.2 trillion Euros in 2018.
So what has the MD501 got under the hood.
The phone is rated at IP68 the highest levels of the International Protection Rating Standards. It can therefore withstand 30 minutes immersed in 2metres of water and is impervious to dust and particles. The MD501 is tough enough to handle climatic extremes of -20 °C to 60 °C and is constructed with Gorilla Glass which is a significant benefit when the handset develops the qualities of Newton’s Apple.
RugGear who manufacture the DeWALT MD501 under licence by Daventry based Global Mobile Communications, state that the phone has been tested to MIL-STD 810G. There are a plethora of tests and standards that come under the banner 810G.
One such test is Method 516.6 — Shock. Part of this test method is sometimes referred to as the “drop” test, and it gauges how well a device holds up to impacts while falling from certain heights.
The tests are designed to determine how well a device can put up with general physical abuse while in the hands of club fisted armed forces personnel. I include myself in this explanation. There are eight different measurements/procedures that come under Method 516.6 however Procedure IV (transit drop) is the standard that the MD501 is promoted as passing.
The floor of the drop zone is two inches of plywood over concrete, which was determined to be the most common surface a device was likely to land on. Testers drop the device from a height of 4 feet for a total of 26 drops. They visually inspect for damage and determine whether it still works after each drop.
The DeWALT claims a drop-protection of 2 metres on to concrete way above industry standards.
The target audience especially with a name like DeWALT as previously mentioned is the Engineering Industry but this is not where it ends. The Adventure Travel and Expedition Market industry is worth in excess of $260 Billion and within this business there is a requirement for a phone that will not break in the middle of the Gobi Desert and has the added bonus of Dual Sim capability and Quad Band enabled.
In a nutshell Quad band recognises the four different frequency bands used in communication: GSM 850, 900, 1,800 and 1,900 MHz. This means wider roaming capabilities a valuable asset for the global traveller or expedition leader. Here is the technical bit Europe uses the 900 and 1,800 bands, while the U.S. uses the 850 and 1,900 bands. Without this flexibility means the user may have to have two phones to maintain communications. The added benefit of a Dual SIM is the significant benefit of buying an “In Country” SIM card to use in the country your are working in which will reduce your spend significantly.
It is true to say that the handset is not got the latest start of the art operating systems or software but you have to seriously ask yourself, Do you really need to have the latest technology when operating in remote areas where you would be lucky to get 2G (Second Generation Telecoms Technology). At best you need a device that will endure the day-to-day aggravation of being thrown around a dashboard of a vehicle, sat in the top pocket of your rucksack or maybe making a call in a raging blizzard. You may even need access to email when you are lucky enough to find wifi in a remote outstation. I certainly do not need the latest technology in a tool of the trade.
This particular author has not been given a phone to play with and review, I put my hand in my pocket and purchased the phone, as I believe in what it is designed for is equally applicable to my industry.
There are some claims about the phone that are not exactly true, the battery does not last a month of Sundays — it lasts a day just like any other Smartphone. The pre-installed sounds of DeWalt Powertools are incredibly annoying but with an Android App you can cross deck some decent sounds so I now have Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train as a ring tone. So I can now annoy those more likely to listen to Beethoven.
Initially the phone did have a mind of it’s own with the proximity sensor throwing a wobbler but this sorted itself out after a couple of days.
The Dual SIM facility allows me to re-direct my Contract Account SIM to my alternative UK Roaming SIM courtesy of Global Communications. This guarantees almost seamless communications in areas that operate as an expedition practitioner.
I am more than happy to state that the DeWALT MD501 has been a wise investment.
Kev Sidford FRGS is a Director of Mountainrite Limited an Adventure Delivery Consultancy. Currently, a Technical Advisor for British Exploring and is a Life Member of the British Association of International Mountain Leaders and full member of the Societatea Ghizilor și Liderilor Montani (SGLM).
He is an experienced expedition leader who has completed a military career spanning 22 years. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Professional Development (Outdoor Learning) and is published writer with articles in 4×4 Magazine, Professional Mountaineer and a forth coming issue of Ripcord Adventure Journal. His expedition experience is extensive spanning Ecuador to Mongolia and South Africa to Iceland.

This content was originally published here.

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