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

Matthew N. Henry

Cat-branded smartphones, which are developed and manufactured by the Bullitt Group, range from entirely rugged, element-laden devices like the flagship five.two-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the five.65-inch S52 (£380), which when however impressively sturdy, features a sleeker and a lot more buyer-helpful design and style.

Filling a gap concerning these devices comes the new five.five-inch Cat S42, an company-ready rugged smartphone aimed at discipline staff, 1st responders, clinic workers and everyone else who requires a rough, simple-to-thoroughly clean machine that can cope with mainstream workloads.

With the buyer sector quickly saturating, the company and ‘firstline’ sectors are obtaining increasing notice, with Samsung, for case in point, not too long ago featuring its 1st rugged phone for some time in the form of the Galaxy XCover Professional.

The Cat S42’s company credentials consist of 3 many years of stability patch protect and at least one Android model update throughout its lifetime. It supports the Android Enterprise element set, including Google’s Zero-touch enrolment application, and has been tested towards a range of enrolment and plan deployment check instances with top EMM remedy vendors (VMware Workspace Just one, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Cell Iron).

The Cat S42, which succeeds the late-2017 Cat S41, charges £229 and is shown as ‘coming soon’ on Cat phones’ United kingdom web page at the time of creating.


The five.five-inch Cat S42 has an IP68 score 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 internal storage, run by a 4,200mAh battery.

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Style and design

The Cat S42 appears to be like like a correct rugged phone: it’s chunky and somewhat weighty for a five.five-inch handset, measuring 77.2mm huge by 161.3mm deep by twelve.7mm thick and weighing 220g. It has a grippy, ribbed matte-black rubberised back plate, protective bumpers on the corners, furthermore hinged handles for the (legacy) Micro-USB charge/relationship port at the base, the 3.5mm headset jack on the top, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the remaining side.

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There are substantial bezels surrounding the five.five-inch display screen, which give the Cat S42 anything of an outdated-fashioned look — the display screen-to-human body ratio is just, compared to modern-day nominal-bezel phones with ratios above ninety%.

The display screen by itself is an IPS panel with average High definition+ resolution (one,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), great most brightness and huge viewing angles. It is really usable with soaked fingers and when wearing gloves, is safeguarded by Gorilla Glass five and also a bit recessed, with the surrounding ridge giving further protection. Impression high quality is fine for somewhat static visuals, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness element failed to operate well for me: I experienced to change to guide and switch up the brightness to get first rate outdoor readability, and even then the reflective display screen intended I typically experienced to find a shady location.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free of charge PDF) (TechRepublic)

There’s no fingerprint sensor or experience recognition: you unlock this phone with a classic 6-digit PIN. If you will not want to keep entering your PIN in the course of the day, you can use Android’s Good Lock element to keep the handset unlocked when it’s about your particular person, in certain reliable locations and when connected to reliable devices like a Bluetooth look at or your car’s infotainment technique.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 score, which indicates it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and dust, and can cope with immersion in drinking water to one.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It is really also MIL-STD 810H compliant and can as a result cope with specified levels of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has also been fall-tested on each individual side and corner multiple situations from one.8 metres (6 feet) on to a steel area. 


The Cat S42 can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time. The copper-colored Programmable Important can also initiate a PTT (Thrust To Chat) get in touch with.

Impression: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The right side has a textured electrical power button and volume up/down controls, when the SIM/MicroSD card tray is behind a protect on the remaining, next to copper-colored Programmable Important, which can also initiate PTT (Thrust To Chat) method with acceptable app assistance. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed below can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time, which is useful. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack below a protect at the top, and a speaker grille at the base, next to the lined Micro-USB charging/relationship port. Audio high quality from the speaker is affordable, but you are going to want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the greatest audio working experience.

At the entrance, the top bezel residences the 5MP entrance digital camera, earpiece and ambient light-weight sensor, when the back has the main 13MP digital camera and an LED flash device.


The Cat S42 is run by an entry-level MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-core 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 — although as observed higher than, this can be augmented with external MicroSD storage (up to 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem supports 9 LTE bands, which is less than the S61’s fourteen, so acquire notice if you’re organizing to travel broadly. For other wi-fi connections, you get wi-fi (two.4/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (five), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There’s also an FM radio, furthermore an e-compass, proximity, ambient light-weight and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s main 13MP digital camera has an f/two. lens and can greatest be explained as adequate (see visuals under) — a description that also applies to the 5MP entrance digital camera. Photography isn’t really a priority for this rugged phone, but it delivers appropriate position-and-shoot visuals.


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

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android ten was set up on our overview device There’s no OS overlay, but a good volume of pre-set up software program including Toolbox, which presents a curated choice of applications below several headings — Small business Resources, Cat Applications, Building, Farming, Outside, Rugged Resources. If you locate that the 32GB of internal storage is filling up rapidly, you can often uninstall some of the 3rd-social gathering applications (or buy a MicroSD card).


As well as a range of 3rd-social gathering applications, the Cat S42 comes with Toolbox, which curates a range of applications acceptable for a rugged phone.

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

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

Performance & battery lifetime

Performance is the Cat S42’s weakest location, thanks to its entry-level Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It shipped typical scores of 132 (single core) and 483 (multi core) in the Geekbench five CPU check, but unsuccessful to operate the Compute GPU check. Top scores for Android phones in the CPU exams solution 900 (single core) and 3300 (multi core) at the time of creating.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Work two. suite, which handles net searching, video modifying, creating, picture modifying and details manipulation. The overall Work two. rating was 4915, which is on the small side — course-top handsets currently appear in at above 13000.

Under the PCMark Work two. battery check, the Cat S42 took 18 hours 37 minutes to go from one hundred% to twenty% of the 4,200mAh battery’s ability. On this foundation, you must get at least two doing work days of battery lifetime right before necessitating a recharge, which is outstanding. This also beats the reported 13h 16m consequence for its predecessor, the Cat S41, even with the latter’s bigger five,000mAh battery.


Photographs: Cat Phones


The Cat S42 is anything of a mixed bag. It is really correctly rugged, affordable at £229, features great company options, and the battery lifetime is excellent. On the other hand, the mix of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage is distinctly entry-level, and there are display screen difficulties (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), confined 4G frequency assistance, furthermore a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints might locate the Cat S42 adequate for their requires, but Samsung’s renewed thrust into the company rugged smartphone house with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Professional will be tempting if price is less of an challenge.

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