Ruggedised tablets are a specialised product produced in small numbers, and that pushes the price up considerably. It follows that your use case must be very clear before you put your money down.
Processing power in the Crosscall Core T4 is adequate for all office tasks and for basic multimedia handling (playing HD video, for example), and the 8-inch screen covered in Gorilla Glass 3 is rich and bright enough to enjoy videos, even though its not full HD. The 32GB of storage seems a little meagre, and most will rely on microSD storage to store a full complement of work-related data.
The large 7000mAh battery lasted a reassuringly long time (about a week with light, daily use), and the power saving measures work well, especially for someone who may be away from an outlet for extended periods.
The textured surface on the back ensures firm grip, even with wet or dirty hands, and you will need some grip to hang to this chunky 610g tablet.
The Crosscall Core T4 costs almost double the price of the equivalent iPad, and for significantly lower specifications. But if you're using your tablet for proper mobile computing in rough, industrial environments or if you're an information worker out in the field then you will likely prioritise this rugged reliability over the svelte, but sensitive, iPad.
Release date and price
Crosscall launched its South Africa range in August 2020. The Crosscall Core T4 costs R11000 and is available from a limited number of retailers including Vodacom, MTN, Cellucity and takealot.com.
- French flair in design
- 1.6kg, 14mm thick
- USB-C charging
Crosscall is a French company and the heavily reinforced T4 tablet still manages to exude some French flair in its design and appearance. As rugged tech goes it is fairly stylish combining strong lines, a mix of materials and tapered corners.
Despite weighing as much as a modern laptop at 1.6kg its well-balanced so it never feels difficult to handle. Unfortunately, holding it in hand for longer operations, like editing a document, composing a longer email or watching a video clip longer than a few minutes does register in the hands and arms.
The buttons are nearly flush with the body, so there's nothing to damage when sliding it in and out of bags and rucksacks, and they're slightly oversized in a way that makes sense: they're easier use with gloved hands, for example.
The frame which stands 14mm thick, is made of solid aluminium, and offers no flex at all. The heavy-duty plastic back panel is held in place with no less than 20 screws. Both the aluminium border and the back panel is ridged and textured to provide decent grip in hand even if, for example, the tablet was wet or slippery. The flaps covered the headphone socket and USB-C charging port seemed like an annoyance in an urban setting but undoubtedly serve to keep dirt out of the these sockets for workers in more challenging environments.
The 8-inch screen of the Core T4 is in 16:10 format and is surprisingly luxuriant to use with vibrant colours and sufficient brightness and contrast to be easily usable outdoors in direct sunlight. It's not full HD but at 1280x800 (WXGA) resolution it hold up very well on the smaller 8-inch format.
On the whole the cameras found on tablets tend to be underwhelming, probably because tablets are inconvenient for taking photos. However, in the setting intended for this product, where the mobile worker in the field needs to capture images for business purposes, you would expect at least smartphone quality photos, and that is what is on offer. There's a single, basic 13MP sensor on the back, with LED flash, and a 5MP front facing camera. Both deliver photos slightly better than an entry level smartphone. Low light performance is seriously underwhelming.
Specs and performance
- Low-end Qualcomm CPU
- IP68 and MIL STD-810G compliant
- Decent 4G performance
The Crosscall T4 makes use of a Qualcomm 450 processor which the company says was specifically chosen because it will enjoy unusually long technical support. That's a very interesting strategy that speaks to its enterprise target market, where compatibility with evolving proprietary business applications is often a selling point.
Unfortunately, this 8-core CPU and its companion Adreno 506 GPU is the same as that used on entry-level smartphones from 2019 and falls far behind a typical mid-range Android tablet or entry-level iPad. So, while you are unlikely to notice these limitations when writing email, making WhatsApp calls, watching YouTube or inputting data, when loading and running bigger applications and working with multimedia users will quickly become frustrated. In our tests the T4 performed all the basics well, including using the full Microsoft Office suite, and compiling complex documents.
There's a combination SIM card and microSD card slot. Crosscall claims you will get "faster than 4G" speeds, but in practice we didn't do any better than typical high-end LTE throughput. For the field worker this does mean reliable wide area connectivity, with full VoLTE support for making data calls.
But it's toughness that you're buying into here, and the Core T4 does not disappoint. It provides Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and IP68 protection, as you might expect, and it also passes the battery of thirteen impact, vibration and extreme operating temperature tests that make up the MIL STD-810G military specification.
Crosscall claims you can drop the Core T4 at any angle from a height of 1.5m on to concrete. We were simply not bold enough to test this claim, but we did immerse it in liquids and in coarse dirt and in fine dust with no adverse effects. Despite intentionally rough treatment over several weeks in testing both the screen and back panel show no scratches or wear of any kind.
It also offers more unusual IK06 protection: that's impact protection from objects up to half a kilogram dropped from 20cm.
The 7000mAh battery of the Core T4 provides great value, in part due to it's middling hardware components. Both the CPU and GPU have low clock speeds and the screen is not full HD and is smaller than a typical 10-inch tablet. It all adds up to excellent battery life of more than two days of continuous business use.
Should you buy it?
Buy it if...
You do dirty work
Ruggedised tablets come at a price premium because they are purpose built for use outside of the neat and clean office environment. Whether you're working on building sites, in agricultural settings or as a researcher in the field, you'll want the assurance and reliability that this high price tag offers.
You are a road tripper
A no-fuss tablet suits the backpacker and adventure seeker who want to document their travel antics in detail, but can't mess around with a full-size laptop. This rugged travel companion doesn't mind being crushed in backpacks, or falling off dashboards while navigating or filming underwater, and it goes the distance with its long battery life.
Don’t buy it if...
You fancy an iPad
This is the anti-iPad. It's chunky and weighty, and comprises a mix of components optimised for low power use and reliability, not vivid multimedia consumption, Instagram and Netflix.
You are price sensitive
This is a very expensive tablet compared to all other regular consumer models of similar specification, both Android and iOS. If you need a tablet for use around the home or for coffee shop work, get an iPad.
First reviewed: 05 October 2020