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 completely rugged, aspect-laden units like the flagship five.2-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the five.sixty five-inch S52 (£380), which whilst even now impressively robust, delivers a sleeker and a lot more purchaser-friendly design.

Filling a gap amongst these units arrives the new five.five-inch Cat S42, an organization-ready rugged smartphone aimed at subject employees, very first responders, healthcare facility staff members and any individual else who requirements a tough, easy-to-clean gadget that can tackle mainstream workloads.

With the purchaser sector swiftly saturating, the organization and ‘firstline’ sectors are obtaining expanding focus, with Samsung, for case in point, not long ago giving its very first rugged cell phone for some time in the condition of the Galaxy XCover Pro.

The Cat S42’s organization qualifications consist of 3 yrs of stability patch address and at minimum a person Android model update through its lifetime. It supports the Android Business aspect set, like Google’s Zero-touch enrolment method, and has been analyzed from a vary of enrolment and policy deployment check cases with foremost EMM answer suppliers (VMware Workspace 1, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Cell Iron).

The Cat S42, which succeeds the late-2017 Cat S41, prices £229 and is shown as ‘coming soon’ on Cat phones’ British isles web site at the time of crafting.


The five.five-inch Cat S42 has an IP68 rating for dust/h2o resistance and is MIL-STD 810H compliant. It runs on the MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, powered by a 4,200mAh battery.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet


The Cat S42 appears to be like a appropriate rugged cell phone: it can be chunky and comparatively heavy for a five.five-inch handset, measuring 77.2mm wide by 161.3mm deep by twelve.7mm thick and weighing 220g. It has a grippy, ribbed matte-black rubberised back again plate, protective bumpers on the corners, additionally hinged handles for the (legacy) Micro-USB demand/connection port at the bottom, the 3.5mm headset jack on the top rated, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the still left aspect.

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There are massive bezels encompassing the five.five-inch screen, which give the Cat S42 some thing of an outdated-fashioned glimpse — the screen-to-system ratio is just 62.7%, as opposed to modern nominal-bezel telephones with ratios over ninety%.

The screen by itself is an IPS panel with average Hd+ resolution (one,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), great greatest brightness and wide viewing angles. It truly is usable with soaked fingers and when carrying gloves, is shielded by Gorilla Glass five and also a little bit recessed, with the encompassing ridge giving supplemental defense. Graphic good quality is great for comparatively static pictures, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness aspect failed to do the job effectively for me: I had to swap to manual and convert up the brightness to get first rate outdoor readability, and even then the reflective screen intended I usually had to search for a shady spot.

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You will find no fingerprint sensor or deal with recognition: you unlock this cell phone with a classic six-digit PIN. If you never want to continue to keep moving into your PIN through the working day, you can use Android’s Wise Lock aspect to continue to keep the handset unlocked when it can be about your individual, in sure trustworthy sites and when linked to trustworthy units like a Bluetooth enjoy or your car’s infotainment method.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 rating, which usually means it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and filth, and can tackle immersion in h2o to one.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It truly is also MIL-STD 810H compliant and can hence cope with specified degrees of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has also been drop-analyzed on every aspect and corner several periods from one.eight metres (six toes) onto a steel surface area. 


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

Graphic: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The right aspect has a textured power button and quantity up/down controls, whilst the SIM/MicroSD card tray is powering a address on the still left, next to copper-colored Programmable Essential, which can also initiate PTT (Drive To Communicate) manner with suitable app support. The dual-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed in this article can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time, which is helpful. You will find a 3.5mm headphone jack beneath a address at the top rated, and a speaker grille at the bottom, next to the protected Micro-USB charging/connection port. Audio good quality from the speaker is sensible, but you can want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the very best audio knowledge.

At the entrance, the top rated bezel properties the 5MP entrance camera, earpiece and ambient light sensor, whilst the back again has the most important 13MP camera and an LED flash device.


The Cat S42 is powered by an entry-level MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-main ARM Cortex-A53 CPU jogging at up to one.8GHz and a 550MHz IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU. There is a modest 3GB of RAM and a miserly 32GB of internal storage — while as mentioned 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 much less than the S61’s 14, so get observe if you happen to be setting up to vacation greatly. For other wi-fi connections, you get wi-fi (2.4/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (five), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). You will find also an FM radio, additionally an e-compass, proximity, ambient light and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s most important 13MP camera has an f/2. lens and can very best be explained as sufficient (see pictures below) — a description that also applies to the 5MP entrance camera. Pictures is not a precedence for this rugged cell phone, but it delivers acceptable level-and-shoot pictures.


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

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android ten was set up on our review device You will find no OS overlay, but a good sum of pre-set up program like Toolbox, which provides a curated variety of applications beneath many headings — Small business Resources, Cat Applications, Building, Farming, Outside, Rugged Resources. If you find that the 32GB of internal storage is filling up rapid, you can generally uninstall some of the third-bash applications (or purchase a MicroSD card).


As effectively as a amount of third-bash applications, the Cat S42 arrives with Toolbox, which curates a vary of applications suitable for a rugged cell phone.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable 4,200mAh device with rapid charging support (while it can be not as sizeable as the five,000mAh battery in the Cat S41). You will find no support for wi-fi charging.

Overall performance & battery existence

Overall performance is the Cat S42’s weakest location, many thanks to its entry-level Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It delivered average scores of 132 (single main) and 483 (multi main) in the Geekbench five CPU check, but unsuccessful to run the Compute GPU check. Leading scores for Android telephones in the CPU checks approach 900 (single main) and 3300 (multi main) at the time of crafting.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Work 2. suite, which handles world wide web browsing, movie enhancing, crafting, image enhancing and info manipulation. The overall Work 2. rating was 4915, which is on the lower aspect — course-foremost handsets currently come in at over 13000.

Underneath the PCMark Work 2. battery check, the Cat S42 took 18 hours 37 minutes to go from 100% to 20% of the 4,200mAh battery’s capacity. On this foundation, you need to get at minimum two doing the job days of battery existence ahead of demanding a recharge, which is impressive. This also beats the noted 13h 16m result for its predecessor, the Cat S41, in spite of the latter’s even larger five,000mAh battery.


Photos: Cat Phones


The Cat S42 is some thing of a combined bag. It truly is thoroughly rugged, affordable at £229, delivers great organization attributes, and the battery existence is superb. On the other hand, the combination of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage is distinctly entry-level, and there are screen troubles (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), restricted 4G frequency support, additionally a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints may find the Cat S42 sufficient for their requirements, but Samsung’s renewed drive into the organization rugged smartphone area with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Pro will be tempting if cost is much less of an difficulty.

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