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Hands-on Dewalt MD501 review: The most tough-as-nails phone of 2016?

Hands-on Dewalt MD501 Review: We grapple with this beefy drop-and-water-resistant smartphone, designed for use on construction sites and in other hazardous environments.

Dewalt may be best known for its power tools and construction accessories, but the company is barging into the smartphone game with the MD501 handset, a new super-tough Android mobile that’s designed for professional use. We went hands-on with the MD501 to see how beefy it really is.

The MD501 is certainly sturdy, with a thick 14mm rubberised body that makes it more durable than any other phone we’ve reviewed recently. Dewalt has put the handset through Military Standard testing (810G), which involves repeatedly dropping the thing onto a hard surface from a distance of 1.2 metres, and they even boosted this up to two metres just to make sure the MD501 is no pushover.

No worries if you work in a wet environment either, as the MD501 is IP68 water-resistant. Essential ports such as the micro USB charging port and headphone jack are covered by (slightly fiddly) flaps, which helps to keep out dust and dirt even when the phone is submerged. The phone can withstand half an hour in up to two metres of water, while also coping with a temperature range between -20 and 60 degrees centigrade.

You get the usual assortment of buttons, plus a shortcut button on the left edge of the phone that opens up the app of your choice. That’s particularly handy if you need quick access to an important (and often-used) tool.

The back of the phone can be opened up by loosening the screws, which gives you access to the microSD memory card slot and dual SIM card slots. With support for two SIMs at once, you can slip in both your home and work cards if needed, although you probably wouldn’t want to use the MD501 as your personal mobile away from work. After all, it’s a chunky beast that won’t fit into anything but a super-baggy clown pocket. It’s also pretty hefty at 245g.

That 5-inch HD display can thankfully be used with gloves, which is handy if you need to wear protection at all times. And while it’s not exactly a premium panel, it’s sharp and bright enough to provide respectable clarity even in brightly lit environments.

Android 5.1 Lollipop runs well on the 1.3GHz Mediatek processor, and the MD501’s users aren’t likely to miss the latest Marshmallow version of Android. You get all of the features that you’d expect, including some pre-installed apps of Dewalt’s choosing that construction pros may find useful. You can of course download more from Google Play if needed. And rounding off the features is a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera, complete with a physical shutter button for taking snaps.

You can grab the Dewalt MD501 now for £379.


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