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Thankfully you shouldn't need the wind-up charger too often, because the Pro-talk has excellent battery life. This is partly because the 1800 mAh battery is nearly 3x the size of the Tradesman's 650mAh battery. That said the Tradesman uses very little power and the Pro-talk can consume a lot with GPS. Despite this you should still get 3-4 days of moderate usage from a single charge and if you switch off the goodies it will stretch well past a week.
So how tough is the Pro-talk? Tough. Admittedly not Sonim XP1 tough, but not far off. The handset is certified to IP67 meaning no ingress of dust or dirt can be made into its inner workings and it can be fully submersed in water for a minimum of 30 minutes, though sadly – unlike the Tradesman – it doesn't float.
Then again when you carry out the full set of JCB tests there is little need to worry about giving the handset rough treatment and the touchscreen is the more durable resistive standard. This makes it less responsive than capacitive screens (as seen in the iPhone, Pre 2 and most Android and all Windows Phone 7 handsets), but it does mean it can be operated in gloves.
So ultimately the JCB Pro-talk offers a true tough phone experience with a few handy bells and whistles on top for an upper midrange price. Is this enough? If you need some of its core features such as the two-way radio and dual sim then yes, but if you only need a simple tough phone you'd be better off saving nearly £200 and opting for the Tradesman. On the flip side, if you want proper smartphone functionality and still wish to retain something with an IP67 rating, the Motorola Defy offers a full Android experience with 5MP camera and capacitive screen. With an unlocked price of under £290 (depending on discount from website-to-website) this would also offer better value for money.
We like the Pro-talk. It adds useful extra functionality such as two-way calling and dual sim yet retains all the toughness of JCB's more stripped down Tradesman. The resistive toughscreen is also handy when gloves struggle to use the small keys on the physical keypad. Unfortunately it also falls between two stools. The Tradesman offers the same core experience for a fraction of the price while those seeking a tough smartphone will get more bang from their buck with the Motorola Defy. The Pro-talk is a good phone, but a niche one.
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