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

Cat-branded smartphones, which are made and produced by the Bullitt Team, variety from totally rugged, element-laden units like the flagship 5.two-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the 5.65-inch S52 (£380), which though nonetheless impressively strong, offers a sleeker and additional customer-pleasant style and design. Filling a gap involving these units will […]

Cat-branded smartphones, which are made and produced by the Bullitt Team, variety from totally rugged, element-laden units like the flagship 5.two-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the 5.65-inch S52 (£380), which though nonetheless impressively strong, offers a sleeker and additional customer-pleasant style and design.

Filling a gap involving these units will come the new 5.5-inch Cat S42, an organization-completely ready rugged smartphone aimed at discipline staff, to start with responders, medical center staff and anybody else who needs a rough, effortless-to-cleanse unit that can manage mainstream workloads.

With the customer sector speedily saturating, the organization and ‘firstline’ sectors are finding escalating interest, with Samsung, for case in point, not long ago offering its to start with rugged telephone for some time in the shape of the Galaxy XCover Professional.

The Cat S42’s organization qualifications include things like three many years of protection patch protect and at least one Android version update all through its lifetime. It supports the Android Business element set, which include Google’s Zero-touch enrolment method, and has been analyzed towards a variety of enrolment and coverage deployment test cases with major EMM resolution companies (VMware Workspace 1, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Mobile Iron).

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


The 5.5-inch Cat S42 has an IP68 score 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 four,200mAh battery.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Design and style

The Cat S42 looks like a correct rugged telephone: it is really chunky and fairly major 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 again plate, protecting bumpers on the corners, as well as hinged covers for the (legacy) Micro-USB cost/relationship port at the bottom, the three.5mm headset jack on the best, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the remaining side.

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There are huge bezels encompassing the 5.5-inch screen, which give the Cat S42 a little something of an old-fashioned glimpse — the screen-to-entire body ratio is just 62.7%, compared to fashionable small-bezel phones with ratios about 90%.

The screen alone is an IPS panel with reasonable High definition+ resolution (one,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), fantastic utmost brightness and extensive viewing angles. It is usable with soaked fingers and when donning gloves, is secured by Gorilla Glass 5 and also somewhat recessed, with the encompassing ridge providing more defense. Image quality is wonderful for fairly static photographs, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness element did not perform effectively for me: I had to swap to guide and flip up the brightness to get respectable outdoor readability, and even then the reflective screen meant I usually had to seek a shady spot.

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

There is certainly no fingerprint sensor or facial area recognition: you unlock this telephone with a conventional 6-digit PIN. If you really don’t want to continue to keep entering your PIN all through the working day, you can use Android’s Sensible Lock element to continue to keep the handset unlocked when it is really about your human being, in selected trusted areas and when connected to trusted units like a Bluetooth observe or your car’s infotainment procedure.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 score, which usually means it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and grime, and can manage immersion in water to one.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It is also MIL-STD 810H compliant and can hence cope with specified levels of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has also been drop-analyzed on every single side and corner several periods from one.eight metres (6 feet) on to a steel surface. 


The Cat S42 can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time. The copper-coloured Programmable Critical can also initiate a PTT (Drive To Speak) get in touch with.

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The correct side has a textured electrical power button and volume up/down controls, though the SIM/MicroSD card tray is driving a protect on the remaining, next to copper-coloured Programmable Critical, which can also initiate PTT (Drive To Speak) manner with suitable application assist. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed here can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time, which is beneficial. There is certainly a three.5mm headphone jack under a protect at the best, and a speaker grille at the bottom, next to the lined Micro-USB charging/relationship port. Audio quality from the speaker is realistic, but you will want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the best audio knowledge.

At the front, the best bezel houses the 5MP front camera, earpiece and ambient light-weight sensor, though the again has the major 13MP camera and an LED flash device.


The Cat S42 is driven by an entry-amount MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU running at up to one.8GHz and a 550MHz IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU. There is a modest 3GB of RAM and a miserly 32GB of inside storage — while as noted above, this can be augmented with exterior MicroSD storage (up to 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem supports nine LTE bands, which is less than the S61’s 14, so get take note if you are arranging to travel greatly. For other wi-fi connections, you get wi-fi (two.four/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (5), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There is certainly also an FM radio, as well as an e-compass, proximity, ambient light-weight and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s major 13MP camera has an f/two. lens and can best be described as sufficient (see photographs down below) — a description that also applies to the 5MP front camera. Photography is just not a priority for this rugged telephone, but it provides appropriate position-and-shoot photographs.


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

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android 10 was mounted on our critique device There is certainly no OS overlay, but a truthful quantity of pre-mounted software package which include Toolbox, which offers a curated range of applications under many headings — Organization Resources, Cat Apps, Development, Farming, Outdoors, Rugged Resources. If you discover that the 32GB of inside storage is filling up quick, you can often uninstall some of the third-occasion applications (or acquire a MicroSD card).


As effectively as a selection of third-occasion applications, the Cat S42 will come with Toolbox, which curates a variety of applications suitable for a rugged telephone.

Photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable four,200mAh device with quick charging assist (while it is really not as sizeable as the 5,000mAh battery in the Cat S41). There is certainly no assist for wi-fi charging.

Efficiency & battery lifestyle

Efficiency is the Cat S42’s weakest region, thanks to its entry-amount Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It shipped average scores of 132 (single core) and 483 (multi core) in the Geekbench 5 CPU test, but unsuccessful to run the Compute GPU test. Foremost scores for Android phones in the CPU tests tactic 900 (single core) and 3300 (multi core) at the time of writing.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Get the job done two. suite, which covers world wide web searching, video clip editing, writing, photo editing and facts manipulation. The over-all Get the job done two. score was 4915, which is on the minimal side — course-major handsets currently occur in at about 13000.

Underneath the PCMark Get the job done two. battery test, the Cat S42 took 18 several hours 37 minutes to go from one hundred% to 20% of the four,200mAh battery’s ability. On this basis, you should get at least two doing work days of battery lifestyle in advance of necessitating a recharge, which is spectacular. This also beats the described 13h 16m result for its predecessor, the Cat S41, in spite of the latter’s more substantial 5,000mAh battery.


Photos: Cat Telephones


The Cat S42 is a little something of a combined bag. It is appropriately rugged, cost-effective at £229, offers fantastic organization attributes, and the battery lifestyle is excellent. On the other hand, the blend of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inside storage is distinctly entry-amount, and there are screen issues (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), minimal 4G frequency assist, as well as a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints might discover the Cat S42 sufficient for their needs, but Samsung’s renewed thrust into the organization rugged smartphone space with the $499.ninety nine/£529 Galaxy XCover Professional will be tempting if cost is less of an difficulty.

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Rosa G. Rose

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