Reviewed: JCB Tradesman

18 Dec 2010

The world’s first floating phone, the JCB Tradesman, is impact-proof, cold-proof and water-proof. We put it through its paces to test its toughness.

This is a man’s world …

The JCB Tradesman isn’t the sexiest phone in the world. It’s pretty plastic looking, but it does feel quite solid and sturdy.

Colourwise, it’s most black with bright yellow areas, such as on the menu buttons and at the back, giving it the JCB style.

The phone has a pretty tiny 1.4-inch colour screen. It includes a small torch on the top, activated by the up key, and a mini USB port at the bottom, for charging and plugging in the headphones provided with the handset.

Again, this isn’t a phone that’s designed to look pretty. What this phone is really all about is pure toughness.

I’ll make a phone out of you

The JCB Tradesman’s true strengths lie in its incredible durability, certified to IP67 specifications. Much tougher than your average phone, it’s dustproof and can withstand temperatures between -20C and 60C.

While it is currently pretty cold, it was difficult to replicate these conditions, particularly in the upper end of the temperatures. I tested its cold limit by sitting the phone in a bag of ice for about an hour or so. Even then, it showed no sign of weakness and worked as normal.

The phone’s key selling point is that it’s the world’s first floating phone and, after placing it in a bowl of water, it did just that, though I found that if you slightly angled how you put it in, the top part wouldn’t float quite as effectively as the bottom part. Though mostly, it bobbed back up.

Even if you don’t want it to float, it can be put completely under water with no issues. We placed it in a thin glass of water, fully submerging it. Not only did it still work, but we could make a phone call to it while it was in the water. Just don’t expect the sound to be too great when phoning friends under the sea.

It has been designed to a military specification, meaning it can withstand a 3-metre drop without breaking. We dropped it from a small flight of stairs and, while the back fell off, once we reassembled it, it worked fine.

The phone really lives up to its tough promise, and you won’t be disappointed in its strength.

It’s the beard on the inside that counts

In terms of functionality, it’s not going to give the smartphone a run for its money.

In fact, it’s far more basic than most basic phones out there. It offers Bluetooth connectivity, an FM radio, with auto search capabilities, and some simple games, such as a low-fi Tetris and a UFO game.

Texting is easy to input as the buttons are quite thick and pronounced, but the screen size can make reading longer texts a bit of a chore, particularly when half of the already tiny screen is taken up with information about who texted you and when they did it. However, phone calls sound great.


For pure muscle, the JCB Tradesman is a fantastic phone. It is incredibly basic, however, and if you’re looking for a phone with a huge list of features, this won’t be for you. But as a simple phone with texting, calling and limited entertainment abilities, this does the job.

In regards to its strength, for anyone who works in the construction industry, in hazardous conditions or even for those who are completely disaster prone, this phone will take just about any challenge you can throw at it.

The JCB Tradesman costs €99.99 with a JUST Mobile SIM.