JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart review: JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

2 stars 5 user reviews
Review Date:

The Good Tough design; Long battery life; Water and dust-proof.

The Bad Too chunky for most users; Slow processor; Low-res screen.

The Bottom Line Too heavy and thick to be of interest to style-loving mobile consumers, the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart is better suited to people who don't mind getting their hands dirty. It's unquestionably the most robust Android phone available.

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Waterproof, dust-resistant and capable of withstanding accidental drops onto hard, unforgiving concrete, the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Android handsets. It can take whatever punishment you feel like dealing out, and still come back for seconds.

With IP67 certification, a protective barrier over the screen and chunky, shockproof casing, this no-nonsense mobile is likely to be the dream ticket for those employed in the rough-and-tumble world of construction and manual labour.

For all of its strength, the Toughphone Pro-Smart is saddled with rather disappointing technical specs. But will it matter if all that's important to you is a phone that will survive a pummeling unscathed?

The JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart is available SIM-free from Expansys for £310.

Should I buy the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart?

Digger maker JCB has been running a neat little sideline in rugged mobile phones for a few years, but they've tended to be the tech equivalent of your average WWE wrestler -- brawn over brains.

Following a collaboration with Motorola to create the specially branded Defy+ , JCB has finally stepped up to the plate with the Android-packing Toughphone Pro-Smart -- otherwise known as the only handset Chuck Norris would be seen in public with. To call this device rugged is a masterclass in understatement. You could bludgeon someone to death with this blower, should you be that way inclined.

The yellow and black casing allows the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart to blend effortlessly into any builder's toolbox.
The yellow and black casing allows the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart to blend effortlessly into any builder's toolbox.

Unfortunately, despite the near-indestructible exterior, the Toughphone Pro-Smart is something of a technological weakling. It only has an 800MHz processor, a 320x480-pixel resolution screen and comes with Android version 2.3 , rather than 4.0 -- the most recent edition.

It's clear that the Toughphone Pro-Smart isn't aimed at consumers who salivate over the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple iPhone 4S . This device caters for an entirely different user. While those super-thin and ultra-powerful handsets look great resting on the coffee table at your local Starbucks, they're woefully ill-suited to emailing from the rigours of a building site.

The phone's super-rugged exterior allows it to withstand all kinds of punishment.
The phone's rugged exterior will withstand all kinds of punishment.

As a phone for outdoor types who work amid dust, water and all kinds of weather, the Toughphone Pro-Smart makes a lot of sense. The lack of cutting-edge functionality is a bind, but you have to ask yourself, what good is a HD 720p resolution Super AMOLED screen when it's covered in grime?


At first glance, you'd be forgiven for assuming the Toughphone Pro-Smart is actually a normal smart phone clad in a strong case. It's only when you pick the device up that you realise the proliferation of plastic is actually part of the handset. At 20.5mm thick, this has to be one of the chunkiest mobiles I've ever seen.

Thin and light this most certainly is not, but the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart more than lives up to its name.
Thin and light this most certainly is not, but the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart more than lives up to its name.

There's a good reason for this portly frame -- the Toughphone Pro-Smart is water, dust and shockproof and comes with IP67 certification, which means it can withstand full submersion in the wet stuff for up to 30 minutes.

This is nothing new -- the Motorola Defy offers a similar level of protection -- but I'd be willing to wager JCB's phone is the tougher of the two. While I stopped short of attempting to mutilate the device to see if it's quite as robust as the Nokia Lumia 900 , I nevertheless put the Toughphone Pro-Smart through some pretty strenuous testing. It emerged entirely unscathed.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart's chubby dimensions seem almost laughable, but I know which one I'd pick in a scrap.
Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Pro-Smart's chubby dimensions are laughable, but I know which one I'd pick in a scrap.

You won't be able to slip this blower into your back pocket. As a fashion statement, it's woefully lacking. But then its target audience is probably more comfortable in baggy cargo pants and steel-toed boots. To illustrate, the phone even comes with a special carabiner attachment so you can secure it to your tool belt when you're not using it. It doesn't get much manlier than that.

Processing power and internal storage

For all its ruggedness, the Toughphone Pro-Smart is less intimidating when it comes to pure specifications and features. The 800MHz single-core CPU doesn't offer blistering performance and speed, and the lacklustre 3.2-inch screen is low-resolution and pixelated.

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Where to Buy

JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart

Part Number: CNETJCB Toughphone Pro-Smart

Typical Price: £310.00

See manufacturer website for availability.