A tough break for rugged phone fans as key manufacturer shuts down

Someone holding a Cat S75 smartphone in a rocky, outdoor environment.
There’s no word yet on how Bullitt-produced phones like the Cat S75 (pictured) will be affected. | Image: Cat

Bullitt Group, the UK-based smartphone manufacturer behind the rugged handsets of Cat, Land Rover, and Motorola, has seemingly shut down. On Monday, Mobile World Live spotted several Bullitt Group employees on LinkedIn saying that the company folded on January 26th after a “critical planned restructuring” failed. The Telegraph reported earlier this month that the company was on the brink of insolvency.

Bullitt Group has yet to issue an official statement confirming the closure. The manufacturer previously told The Telegraph that it planned to transfer its satellite connectivity business and all 100 of its employees to a new company owned by its creditors, though one former employee now claims the entire workforce has been laid off. We have reached out to Bullitt Group for comment.

Founded in 2009, Bullitt found its niche producing mobile devices and accessories for other companies. The most notable are the hardy, rugged handsets like the Land Rover Explore and Motorola Defy series, though it also made more traditional smartphones like the Kodak Ektra. In recent years, the company placed greater focus on satellite connectivity projects like the Motorola Defy Satellite Link as it struggled to compete against larger phone providers like Apple and Samsung.

Bullitt was hardly the cornerstone of the rugged smartphone market, but its closure will likely shrink the already limited pool of options that are available to consumers. With Motorola’s rugged lineup presumably impacted by Bullitt’s collapse, Samsung and Nokia remain two of the few recognizable mobile brands to provide rugged smartphones in a space that’s otherwise filled with smaller, niche companies like Doogee and Ulefone that specialize in those kinds of products.