But when I wake up, I realise I’ll never be confused with a tough man, being rather meek and standing at 5ft 3in tall.
You see, I have just taken delivery of the world’s roughest, toughest phone. The JCB Toughphone Sitemaster — yes, the industrial digger people have branched out — claims to be the most resilient mobile in the world.
The company makes some bold claims. Apparently, it can survive underwater for eight hours; can endure heat of 75C and below freezing temperatures of -30C; and is able to withstand extreme vibration and compression.
I like the sound of owning a sturdy phone. My own Apple iPhone is so delicate that I am scared of keeping it in the same pocket as my car keys in case I scratch its touchscreen. If my children get within five metres of it with their mucky hands, I break out in a sweat.
The JCB one is right at the other end of the spectrum — what Jeremy Clarkson would call ‘the most incredible phone in the world’.Encased in chunky bright yellow and black plastic and rubber, the Toughphone is a little thicker than a standard mobile and only slightly heavier at 130g. But it’s certainly macho.
When you turn it on, you’re greeted with a cartoon picture of a JCB digger. The ‘ring tone’ is the sound of a real JCB revving up.
It’s aimed primarily at people who work outdoors — on building sites or farms — but that’s not to say it doesn’t have any mod-cons. It plays music and videos, offers Bluetooth connectivity to other phones and computers and has an FM radio (though no camera).
Reflecting its target market, there’s also a torch, a laser pointer and a tool that translates measurements from centimetres to inches. If there’s no power point nearby, it has a wind-up charger, too.
I go to my local swimming pool and slip the phone into the pocket of my trunks. A couple of lengths in, I stand at the shallow end and call home and find how my son — who has an ear infection — is feeling.
‘Why don’t you have a word with him?’ So I do. The sound quality is pretty good. The line is slightly muffled, but it’s easily good enough to have a long conversation.
A fellow swimmer walks past in his Speedos and sees me. His face is a mixture of bafflement and irritation. A little embarrassed, I pop the phone back in my pocket and complete my swim.
When I get out of the pool, there’s a hint of condensation inside the screen, but otherwise it’s working perfectly.
Perfect match: It is hoped the new JCB phone will be attractive to those in the building trade where they can forget about risking damage to the handset
Time to relax in the steam room. Speedo Man is already there and looks bemused as I pull the phone out for another call home.
‘Guess where I am, darling,’ I say. ‘The steam room!’ My wife sighs, with the resignation of someone who knows this won’t be her last call today. After ten minutes I exit. The phone — though still a bit steamy inside — is fine.
Surely no mobile can survive the heat of a sauna? When I make a call, the sound quality is a little muffled — the phone is clearly not entirely watertight — but still, I can make myself heard perfectly well.
I have heard stories of mobiles seizing up after being soaked in a bad rainstorm, so I think this is the Toughphone equivalent. Soap, shampoo, hot water. Phone still fine.
I place it under the wheel of my 1.6-tonne Saab. Never have I felt more like a member of the Top Gear team. I rev the engine and then over I go, back and forth, five times.The screen hasn’t cracked and there is not even a dent — just a tiny scratch on the back.
There are a number of Facebook groups called ‘I dropped my phone out of the window and it broke’. Will even the world’s toughest mobile endure this sort of shock?I fling the phone from a first-floor window on to the patio, 12ft below and twice the height claimed by JCB. It bounces and is fine.
I hand my small son the JCB phone to play with in his sandpit. He buries it deep in the sand for about ten minutes before roughly digging it up with a plastic trowel. Not a scratch — but the picture on the screen is looking funny, as if the edges have stopped working. I suspect it’s delayed water damage. Still, I make a call and the sound is perfectly clear.
It goes into the freezer, with the frozen peas and ice cream for two hours. When I take it out it’s fully functional — although it’s not much fun having to hold a block of ice next to your ear.
The final challenge. The Toughphone has survived torture with water, heat, dirt and soap. But what about meeting all of these foes at the same time?
Into the washing machine at 40C it goes, with my gym kit, a few towels and sheets, some Fairy non-bio detergent and fabric softener.
I know someone who accidentally did something similar with his phone and it didn’t survive the ordeal.
Here’s the terrible news. My JCB phone — such a determined fighter — has fallen at the final hurdle.
I reach in gingerly to pull it out. Somehow its inbuilt torch has been turned on. But everything else is resolutely off. No matter many times I press the power button, there isn’t even a flicker of life.
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