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

Cat-branded smartphones, which are designed and created by the Bullitt Team, selection from absolutely rugged, aspect-laden gadgets like the flagship 5.2-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the 5.sixty five-inch S52 (£380), which when however impressively robust, presents a sleeker and far more client-pleasant style.

Filling a hole among these gadgets comes the new 5.5-inch Cat S42, an organization-completely ready rugged smartphone aimed at discipline employees, very first responders, hospital workers and everyone else who wants a tough, effortless-to-cleanse product that can tackle mainstream workloads.

With the client sector speedily saturating, the organization and ‘firstline’ sectors are finding rising focus, with Samsung, for case in point, recently offering its very first rugged telephone for some time in the condition of the Galaxy XCover Professional.

The Cat S42’s organization credentials include three years of security patch cover and at minimum a person Android model update for the duration of its life span. It supports the Android Company aspect established, such as Google’s Zero-contact enrolment plan, and has been analyzed versus a selection of enrolment and policy deployment test instances with main EMM answer providers (VMware Workspace One particular, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Cellular Iron).

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


The 5.5-inch Cat S42 has an IP68 ranking for dust/drinking 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.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Style and design

The Cat S42 seems to be like a right rugged telephone: it’s chunky and relatively heavy for a 5.5-inch handset, measuring seventy seven.2mm extensive by 161.3mm deep by 12.7mm thick and weighing 220g. It has a grippy, ribbed matte-black rubberised back again plate, protecting bumpers on the corners, in addition hinged handles for the (legacy) Micro-USB cost/relationship port at the bottom, the three.5mm headset jack on the prime, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the left facet.

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There are massive bezels surrounding the 5.5-inch monitor, which give the Cat S42 a thing of an outdated-fashioned glimpse — the monitor-to-entire body ratio is just, in contrast to fashionable small-bezel telephones with ratios about 90%.

The monitor alone is an IPS panel with moderate Hd+ resolution (1,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), good greatest brightness and extensive viewing angles. It can be usable with soaked fingers and when wearing gloves, is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and also marginally recessed, with the surrounding ridge providing supplemental security. Image good quality is good for relatively static photographs, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness aspect didn’t perform properly for me: I had to switch to handbook and change up the brightness to get good outdoor readability, and even then the reflective monitor meant I typically had to look for a shady place.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (no cost PDF) (TechRepublic)

There’s no fingerprint sensor or deal with recognition: you unlock this telephone with a regular 6-digit PIN. If you do not want to hold coming into your PIN through the day, you can use Android’s Sensible Lock aspect to hold the handset unlocked when it’s about your person, in certain trusted areas and when connected to trusted gadgets like a Bluetooth observe or your car’s infotainment procedure.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 ranking, which implies it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and grime, and can tackle immersion in drinking water to 1.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It can be also MIL-STD 810H compliant and can therefore cope with specified degrees of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has also been drop-analyzed on each and every facet and corner several times from 1.eight metres (6 ft) on to a metal area. 


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

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The appropriate facet has a textured power button and quantity up/down controls, when the SIM/MicroSD card tray is powering a cover on the left, next to copper-colored Programmable Crucial, which can also initiate PTT (Press To Communicate) mode with suitable application guidance. The dual-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed here can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the identical time, which is practical. There’s a three.5mm headphone jack below a cover at the prime, and a speaker grille at the bottom, next to the protected Micro-USB charging/relationship port. Audio good quality from the speaker is affordable, but you are going to want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the finest audio encounter.

At the front, the prime bezel residences the 5MP front digital camera, earpiece and ambient light sensor, when the back again has the principal 13MP digital camera and an LED flash unit.


The Cat S42 is run by an entry-degree MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU working 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 — even though as famous above, this can be augmented with external MicroSD storage (up to 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem supports nine LTE bands, which is a lot less than the S61’s 14, so acquire note if you happen to be planning to vacation widely. For other wireless connections, you get wi-fi (2.4/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (5), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There’s also an FM radio, in addition an e-compass, proximity, ambient light and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s principal 13MP digital camera has an f/2. lens and can finest be described as satisfactory (see photographs below) — a description that also applies to the 5MP front digital camera. Images isn’t really a precedence for this rugged telephone, but it delivers satisfactory issue-and-shoot photographs.


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

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android 10 was installed on our overview unit There’s no OS overlay, but a honest amount of pre-installed software program such as Toolbox, which provides a curated collection of apps below a variety of headings — Organization Resources, Cat Applications, Design, Farming, Outside, Rugged Resources. If you discover that the 32GB of interior storage is filling up quickly, you can always uninstall some of the 3rd-celebration apps (or buy a MicroSD card).


As properly as a quantity of 3rd-celebration apps, the Cat S42 comes with Toolbox, which curates a selection of apps suitable for a rugged telephone.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable 4,200mAh unit with quickly charging guidance (even though it’s not as sizeable as the 5,000mAh battery in the Cat S41). There’s no guidance for wireless charging.

General performance & battery existence

General performance is the Cat S42’s weakest location, many thanks to its entry-degree Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It shipped normal scores of 132 (solitary core) and 483 (multi core) in the Geekbench 5 CPU test, but unsuccessful to operate the Compute GPU test. Leading scores for Android telephones in the CPU tests technique 900 (solitary core) and 3300 (multi core) at the time of crafting.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Perform 2. suite, which handles web searching, video enhancing, crafting, picture enhancing and data manipulation. The general Perform 2. score was 4915, which is on the small facet — course-main handsets currently appear in at about 13000.

Below the PCMark Perform 2. battery test, the Cat S42 took eighteen hrs 37 minutes to go from one hundred% to twenty% of the 4,200mAh battery’s ability. On this foundation, you should get at minimum two working times of battery existence ahead of necessitating a recharge, which is outstanding. This also beats the noted 13h 16m outcome for its predecessor, the Cat S41, irrespective of the latter’s larger 5,000mAh battery.


Photos: Cat Phones


The Cat S42 is a thing of a mixed bag. It can be correctly rugged, cost-effective at £229, presents good 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 interior storage is distinctly entry-degree, and there are monitor issues (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), limited 4G frequency guidance, in addition a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints may possibly discover the Cat S42 satisfactory for their wants, but Samsung’s renewed drive into the organization rugged smartphone space with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Professional will be tempting if cost is a lot less of an challenge.

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