Cat-branded smartphones, that are designed and manufactured by the Bullitt Group, vary from absolutely rugged, feature-laden units just like the flagship 5.2-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the 5.65-inch S52 (£380), which whereas nonetheless impressively strong, affords a sleeker and extra consumer-friendly design.

Filling a niche between these units comes the brand new 5.5-inch Cat S42, an enterprise-ready rugged smartphone geared toward discipline employees, first responders, hospital workers and anybody else who wants a tricky, easy-to-clean gadget that may deal with mainstream workloads.

With the buyer sector quickly saturating, the enterprise and ‘firstline’ sectors are getting growing consideration, with Samsung, for instance, lately providing its first rugged telephone for a while within the form of the Galaxy XCover Professional.

The Cat S42’s enterprise credentials embrace three years of safety patch cowl and at the least one Android model replace throughout its lifetime. It helps the Android Enterprise characteristic set, together with Google’s Zero-touch enrolment program, and has been examined in opposition to a variety of enrolment and coverage deployment take a look at circumstances with main EMM answer suppliers (VMware Workspace ONE, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Cell Iron).

The Cat S42, which succeeds the late-2017 Cat S41, prices £229 and is listed as ‘coming quickly’ on Cat telephones’ UK web site on the time of writing.


The 5.5-inch Cat S42 has an IP68 score for mud/water resistance and is MIL-STD 810H compliant. It runs on the MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inner storage, powered by a four,200mAh battery.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet


The Cat S42 seems to be like a correct rugged telephone: it is chunky and comparatively heavy for a 5.5-inch handset, measuring 77.2mm huge by 161.3mm deep by 12.7mm thick and weighing 220g. It has a grippy, ribbed matte-black rubberised again plate, protecting bumpers on the corners, plus hinged covers for the (legacy) Micro-USB cost/connection port on the backside, the three.5mm headset jack on the highest, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the left facet.

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There are massive bezels surrounding the 5.5-inch display, which give the Cat S42 one thing of an old school look — the screen-to-body ratio is simply 62.7%, in comparison with fashionable minimal-bezel telephones with ratios over 90%.

The display itself is an IPS panel with average HD+ decision (1,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), good most brightness and huge viewing angles. It is usable with moist fingers and when sporting gloves, is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and in addition barely recessed, with the encircling ridge giving further safety. Picture high quality is okay for comparatively static photos, however scrolling may very well be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness characteristic did not work effectively for me: I needed to change to guide and switch up the brightness to get first rate outside readability, and even then the reflective display meant I typically needed to search a shady spot.

There is no fingerprint sensor or face recognition: you unlock this telephone with a standard 6-digit PIN. In the event you do not wish to hold coming into your PIN all through the day, you should utilize Android’s Sensible Lock characteristic to maintain the handset unlocked when it is about your individual, in sure trusted locations and when related to trusted units like a Bluetooth watch or your automotive’s infotainment system.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 score, which suggests it might probably resist the ingress of sand, mud and filth, and might deal with immersion in water to 1.5m depth for as much as 35 minutes. It is also MIL-STD 810H compliant and might subsequently address specified ranges of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has additionally been drop-tested on each facet and nook a number of instances from 1.eight metres (6 toes) onto a metal floor. 


The Cat S42 can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card on the identical time. The copper-coloured Programmable Key also can provoke a  PTT (Push To Discuss) name.

Picture: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The appropriate facet has a textured energy button and quantity up/down controls, whereas the SIM/MicroSD card tray is behind a canopy on the left, subsequent to copper-coloured Programmable Key, which might additionally provoke PTT (Push To Discuss) mode with appropriate app help. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed right here can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card on the identical time, which is beneficial. There is a three.5mm headphone jack beneath a canopy on the prime, and a speaker grille on the backside, subsequent to the lined Micro-USB charging/connection port. Audio high quality from the speaker is cheap, however you will wish to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the very best audio expertise.

On the entrance, the highest bezel homes the 5MP entrance digital camera, earpiece and ambient mild sensor, whereas the again has the primary 13MP digital camera and an LED flash unit.


The Cat S42 is powered by an entry-level MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU working at as much as 1.8GHz and a 550MHz IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU. There’s a modest 3GB of RAM and a miserly 32GB of inner storage — though as famous above, this may be augmented with exterior MicroSD storage (as much as 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem helps 9 LTE bands, which is lower than the S61’s 14, so take be aware if you happen to’re planning to journey broadly. For different wi-fi connections, you get wi-fi (2.four/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (5), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There’s additionally an FM radio, plus a e-compass, proximity, ambient mild and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s major 13MP digital camera has an f/ lens and might finest be described as enough (see photos under) — an outline that additionally applies to the 5MP entrance digital camera. Images is not a precedence for this rugged telephone, nevertheless it delivers acceptable point-and-shoot photos.


Photos from the Cat S42’s 13MP major digital camera.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android 10 was put in on our overview unit; There is no OS overlay, however a good quantity of pre-installed software program together with Toolbox, which presents a curated choice of apps beneath numerous headings — Enterprise Instruments, Cat Apps, Development, Farming, Outdoor, Rugged Instruments. In the event you discover that the 32GB of inner storage is filling up quick, you may all the time uninstall among the third-party apps (or purchase a MicroSD card).


In addition to quite a few third-party apps, the Cat S42 comes with Toolbox, which curates a variety of apps appropriate for a rugged telephone.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable four,200mAh unit with quick charging help (though it isn’t as sizeable because the 5,000mAh battery within the Cat S41). There is no help for wi-fi charging.

Efficiency & battery life

Efficiency is the Cat S42’s weakest space, due to its entry-level Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It delivered common scores of 132 (single core) and 483 (multi core) within the Geekbench 5 CPU take a look at, however didn’t run the Compute GPU take a look at. Leading scores for Android telephones within the CPU checks method 900 (single core) and 3300 (multi core) on the time of writing.

We additionally ran the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 suite, which covers internet shopping, video enhancing, writing, photograph enhancing and knowledge manipulation. The general Work rating was 4915, which is on the low facet — class-leading handsets at the moment are available at over 13000.

Underneath the PCMark Work battery take a look at, the Cat S42 took 18 hours 37 minutes to go from 100% to 20% of the four,200mAh battery’s capability. On this foundation, you must get at the least two working days of battery life earlier than requiring a recharge, which is spectacular. This additionally beats the reported 13h 16m end result for its predecessor, the Cat S41, regardless of the latter’s greater 5,000mAh battery.


Photos: Cat Telephones


The Cat S42 is one thing of a blended bag. It is correctly rugged, reasonably priced at £229, affords good enterprise options, and the battery life is superb. Then again, the mix of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inner storage is distinctly entry-level, and there are display points (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), restricted 4G frequency help, plus a legacy Micro-USB port to cope with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints might discover the Cat S42 enough for his or her wants, however Samsung’s renewed push into the enterprise rugged smartphone area with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Professional will probably be tempting if value is much less of a problem.


Cat S52 overview: A mid-range rugged smartphone in shopper disguise

Cat S61 Android smartphone overview: Taking the smartphone as a instrument to the following degree

Cat S41 overview: Constructed to outlive robust environments with a battery that final for days

Samsung steps up B2B recreation, launches Galaxy XCover Professional with Microsoft Groups integration

Samsung XCover Professional accessible, might give Microsoft Groups a frontline employee increase

Greatest robust telephones of 2019: Rugged, waterproof, and shockproof smartphones

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