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

Cat-branded smartphones, which are made and manufactured by the Bullitt Team, vary from entirely rugged, aspect-laden units like the flagship five.2-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the five.sixty five-inch S52 (£380), which though nevertheless impressively sturdy, features a sleeker and far more buyer-welcoming structure.

Filling a gap concerning these units comes the new five.five-inch Cat S42, an business-ready rugged smartphone aimed at industry workers, very first responders, healthcare facility employees and everyone else who wants a tough, straightforward-to-clear gadget that can handle mainstream workloads.

With the buyer sector swiftly saturating, the business and ‘firstline’ sectors are receiving increasing attention, with Samsung, for example, a short while ago presenting its very first rugged mobile phone for some time in the shape of the Galaxy XCover Professional.

The Cat S42’s business credentials consist of a few decades of security patch address and at minimum just one Android variation update during its life time. It supports the Android Business aspect established, which includes Google’s Zero-touch enrolment system, and has been tested from a vary of enrolment and coverage deployment test cases with primary EMM alternative providers (VMware Workspace One, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Cellular Iron).

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


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

Visuals: Charles McLellan / ZDNet


The Cat S42 appears to be like a correct rugged mobile phone: it’s chunky and comparatively significant for a five.five-inch handset, measuring seventy seven.2mm wide by 161.3mm deep by 12.7mm thick and weighing 220g. It has a grippy, ribbed matte-black rubberised back plate, protective bumpers on the corners, plus hinged covers for the (legacy) Micro-USB demand/relationship port at the bottom, the 3.5mm headset jack on the top, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the remaining side.

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There are significant bezels surrounding the five.five-inch monitor, which give the Cat S42 one thing of an outdated-fashioned search — the monitor-to-entire body ratio is just{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd}, in contrast to contemporary nominal-bezel phones with ratios around 90{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd}.

The monitor itself is an IPS panel with moderate Hd+ resolution (1,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), fantastic greatest brightness and wide viewing angles. It really is usable with soaked fingers and when wearing gloves, is secured by Gorilla Glass five and also a bit recessed, with the surrounding ridge offering extra protection. Impression quality is fine for comparatively static photos, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness aspect didn’t work properly for me: I had to change to guide and transform up the brightness to get decent out of doors readability, and even then the reflective monitor intended I normally had to request a shady place.

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There is certainly no fingerprint sensor or deal with recognition: you unlock this mobile phone with a conventional six-digit PIN. If you really don’t want to hold coming into your PIN throughout the working day, you can use Android’s Good Lock aspect to hold the handset unlocked when it’s about your particular person, in certain dependable destinations and when related to dependable units like a Bluetooth watch or your car’s infotainment system.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 rating, which signifies it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and dust, and can handle immersion in water to 1.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It really is also MIL-STD 810H compliant and can consequently cope with specified amounts of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has also been drop-tested on every side and corner various moments from 1.eight metres (six ft) on to a metal surface. 


The Cat S42 can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time. The copper-colored Programmable Key can also initiate a PTT (Press To Discuss) phone.

Impression: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The suitable side has a textured electric power button and volume up/down controls, though the SIM/MicroSD card tray is driving a address on the remaining, subsequent to copper-colored Programmable Key, which can also initiate PTT (Press To Discuss) manner with appropriate application guidance. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed in this article can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time, which is beneficial. There is certainly a 3.5mm headphone jack beneath a address at the top, and a speaker grille at the bottom, subsequent to the coated Micro-USB charging/relationship port. Audio quality from the speaker is sensible, but you will want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the best audio encounter.

At the entrance, the top bezel properties the 5MP entrance digicam, earpiece and ambient gentle sensor, though the back has the primary 13MP digicam and an LED flash device.


The Cat S42 is run by an entry-level MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-main ARM Cortex-A53 CPU managing at up to 1.8GHz and a 550MHz IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU. There is a modest 3GB of RAM and a miserly 32GB of interior storage — whilst as noted previously mentioned, this can be augmented with external MicroSD storage (up to 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem supports 9 LTE bands, which is fewer than the S61’s fourteen, so choose note if you’re scheduling to vacation commonly. For other wi-fi connections, you get wi-fi (2.4/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (five), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There is certainly also an FM radio, plus an e-compass, proximity, ambient gentle and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s primary 13MP digicam has an f/2. lens and can best be described as adequate (see photos down below) — a description that also applies to the 5MP entrance digicam. Photography just isn’t a precedence for this rugged mobile phone, but it delivers appropriate point-and-shoot photos.


Visuals from the Cat S42’s 13MP primary digicam.

Visuals: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android 10 was put in on our evaluation device There is certainly no OS overlay, but a fair total of pre-put in computer software which includes Toolbox, which offers a curated variety of apps beneath several headings — Enterprise Equipment, Cat Applications, Design, Farming, Outdoor, Rugged Equipment. If you uncover that the 32GB of interior storage is filling up rapidly, you can constantly uninstall some of the 3rd-bash apps (or buy a MicroSD card).


As properly as a number of 3rd-bash apps, the Cat S42 comes with Toolbox, which curates a vary of apps appropriate for a rugged mobile phone.

Visuals: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable 4,200mAh device with rapidly charging guidance (whilst it’s not as sizeable as the five,000mAh battery in the Cat S41). There is certainly no guidance for wi-fi charging.

Overall performance & battery life

Overall performance is the Cat S42’s weakest region, many thanks to its entry-level Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It delivered common scores of 132 (one main) and 483 (multi main) in the Geekbench five CPU test, but unsuccessful to run the Compute GPU test. Top scores for Android phones in the CPU tests strategy 900 (one main) and 3300 (multi main) at the time of writing.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Perform 2. suite, which covers internet searching, video clip modifying, writing, image modifying and knowledge manipulation. The overall Perform 2. rating was 4915, which is on the small side — class-primary handsets currently come in at around 13000.

Less than the PCMark Perform 2. battery test, the Cat S42 took eighteen hrs 37 minutes to go from one hundred{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} to twenty{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} of the 4,200mAh battery’s capacity. On this basis, you should really get at minimum two working times of battery life before demanding a recharge, which is outstanding. This also beats the noted 13h 16m end result for its predecessor, the Cat S41, in spite of the latter’s greater five,000mAh battery.


Visuals: Cat Phones


The Cat S42 is one thing of a mixed bag. It really is properly rugged, economical at £229, features fantastic business characteristics, and the battery life is great. On the other hand, the mixture of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of interior storage is distinctly entry-level, and there are monitor challenges (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), limited 4G frequency guidance, plus a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints may well uncover the Cat S42 adequate for their wants, but Samsung’s renewed force into the business rugged smartphone area with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Professional will be tempting if charge is fewer of an challenge.

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