April 18, 2024


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Cat S42 review: Rugged and enterprise-ready, with great battery life but sluggish performance Review

Cat-branded smartphones, which are created and produced by the Bullitt Team, vary from thoroughly rugged, feature-laden gadgets like the flagship five.2-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the five.65-inch S52 (£380), which though nevertheless impressively sturdy, features a sleeker and far more buyer-friendly design.

Filling a hole involving these gadgets comes the new five.five-inch Cat S42, an organization-completely ready rugged smartphone aimed at area workers, initially responders, clinic personnel and everyone else who needs a challenging, quick-to-clean up product that can manage mainstream workloads.

With the buyer sector speedily saturating, the organization and ‘firstline’ sectors are receiving growing consideration, with Samsung, for illustration, lately presenting its initially rugged cellular phone for some time in the condition of the Galaxy XCover Pro.

The Cat S42’s organization credentials consist of a few decades of safety patch deal with and at minimum one Android model update in the course of its life span. It supports the Android Business feature set, together with Google’s Zero-contact enrolment software, and has been tested from a vary of enrolment and coverage deployment examination circumstances with leading EMM resolution suppliers (VMware Workspace A single, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Mobile Iron).

The Cat S42, which succeeds the late-2017 Cat S41, costs £229 and is shown as ‘coming soon’ on Cat phones’ United kingdom internet site at the time of composing.


The five.five-inch Cat S42 has an IP68 rating for dust/water resistance and is MIL-STD 810H compliant. It runs on the MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inside storage, driven by a 4,200mAh battery.

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet


The Cat S42 appears to be like like a right rugged cellular phone: it is really chunky and comparatively hefty for a five.five-inch handset, measuring seventy seven.2mm broad by 161.3mm deep by 12.7mm thick and weighing 220g. It has a grippy, ribbed matte-black rubberised back again plate, protective bumpers on the corners, additionally hinged covers for the (legacy) Micro-USB charge/connection port at the bottom, the three.5mm headset jack on the top rated, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the remaining facet.

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There are significant bezels surrounding the five.five-inch monitor, which give the Cat S42 something of an previous-fashioned glimpse — the monitor-to-entire body ratio is just 62.seven%, as opposed to modern-day nominal-bezel phones with ratios about 90%.

The monitor by itself is an IPS panel with moderate High definition+ resolution (1,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), excellent greatest brightness and broad viewing angles. It is really usable with damp fingers and when donning gloves, is safeguarded by Gorilla Glass five and also slightly recessed, with the surrounding ridge offering more security. Graphic excellent is fantastic for comparatively static photos, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness feature did not get the job done very well for me: I experienced to switch to handbook and convert up the brightness to get good outdoor readability, and even then the reflective monitor intended I often experienced to look for a shady location.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (cost-free PDF) (TechRepublic)

There is no fingerprint sensor or encounter recognition: you unlock this cellular phone with a conventional 6-digit PIN. If you really don’t want to continue to keep coming into your PIN all through the working day, you can use Android’s Smart Lock feature to continue to keep the handset unlocked when it is really about your person, in selected trusted locations and when linked to trusted gadgets like a Bluetooth watch or your car’s infotainment technique.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 rating, which indicates it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and grime, and can manage immersion in water to 1.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It is really also MIL-STD 810H compliant and can as a result cope with specified amounts of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has also been drop-tested on every facet and corner several moments from 1.eight metres (6 feet) onto a metal surface. 


The Cat S42 can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the exact same time. The copper-coloured Programmable Essential can also initiate a PTT (Thrust To Communicate) call.

Graphic: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The suitable facet has a textured ability button and quantity up/down controls, though the SIM/MicroSD card tray is powering a deal with on the remaining, subsequent to copper-coloured Programmable Essential, which can also initiate PTT (Thrust To Communicate) mode with appropriate app aid. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed in this article can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the exact same time, which is beneficial. There is a three.5mm headphone jack below a deal with at the top rated, and a speaker grille at the bottom, subsequent to the protected Micro-USB charging/connection port. Audio excellent from the speaker is realistic, but you are going to want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the greatest audio experience.

At the front, the top rated bezel homes the 5MP front digital camera, earpiece and ambient mild sensor, though the back again has the most important 13MP digital camera and an LED flash device.


The Cat S42 is driven by an entry-level MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-main ARM Cortex-A53 CPU jogging at up to 1.8GHz and a 550MHz IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU. There is a modest 3GB of RAM and a miserly 32GB of inside storage — although as famous over, this can be augmented with exterior MicroSD storage (up to 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem supports 9 LTE bands, which is fewer than the S61’s 14, so choose notice if you happen to be preparing to travel widely. For other wireless connections, you get wi-fi (2.4/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (five), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There is also an FM radio, additionally an e-compass, proximity, ambient mild and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s most important 13MP digital camera has an f/2. lens and can greatest be explained as adequate (see photos below) — a description that also applies to the 5MP front digital camera. Photography is just not a precedence for this rugged cellular phone, but it delivers acceptable stage-and-shoot photos.


Photographs from the Cat S42’s 13MP most important digital camera.

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android ten was put in on our assessment device There is no OS overlay, but a honest total of pre-put in software together with Toolbox, which presents a curated choice of apps below various headings — Business enterprise Applications, Cat Apps, Construction, Farming, Outside, Rugged Applications. If you find that the 32GB of inside storage is filling up quickly, you can generally uninstall some of the third-celebration apps (or obtain a MicroSD card).


As very well as a selection of third-celebration apps, the Cat S42 comes with Toolbox, which curates a vary of apps appropriate for a rugged cellular phone.

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable 4,200mAh device with quickly charging aid (although it is really not as sizeable as the five,000mAh battery in the Cat S41). There is no aid for wireless charging.

Performance & battery existence

Performance is the Cat S42’s weakest place, thanks to its entry-level Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It delivered common scores of 132 (solitary main) and 483 (multi main) in the Geekbench five CPU examination, but unsuccessful to run the Compute GPU examination. Main scores for Android phones in the CPU assessments technique 900 (solitary main) and 3300 (multi main) at the time of composing.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Perform 2. suite, which covers net browsing, online video modifying, composing, image modifying and facts manipulation. The general Perform 2. score was 4915, which is on the very low facet — class-leading handsets currently appear in at about 13000.

Below the PCMark Perform 2. battery examination, the Cat S42 took eighteen several hours 37 minutes to go from 100% to twenty% of the 4,200mAh battery’s ability. On this foundation, you should really get at minimum two doing work days of battery existence right before necessitating a recharge, which is extraordinary. This also beats the claimed 13h 16m outcome for its predecessor, the Cat S41, inspite of the latter’s bigger five,000mAh battery.


Photographs: Cat Telephones


The Cat S42 is something of a mixed bag. It is really properly rugged, inexpensive at £229, features excellent organization features, and the battery existence is fantastic. On the other hand, the mixture of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inside storage is distinctly entry-level, and there are monitor challenges (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), constrained 4G frequency aid, additionally a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints may find the Cat S42 adequate for their needs, but Samsung’s renewed press into the organization rugged smartphone house with the $499.ninety nine/£529 Galaxy XCover Pro will be tempting if cost is fewer of an problem.

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