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

Cat-branded smartphones, which are intended and made by the Bullitt Group, range from absolutely rugged, function-laden units like the flagship five.two-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the five.65-inch S52 (£380), which whilst nonetheless impressively sturdy, gives a sleeker and far more purchaser-helpful layout.

Filling a hole involving these units will come the new five.five-inch Cat S42, an enterprise-completely ready rugged smartphone aimed at industry staff, to start with responders, hospital personnel and any person else who requires a challenging, effortless-to-cleanse machine that can cope with mainstream workloads.

With the purchaser sector speedily saturating, the enterprise and ‘firstline’ sectors are having raising awareness, with Samsung, for example, just lately offering its to start with rugged cell phone for some time in the shape of the Galaxy XCover Pro.

The Cat S42’s enterprise qualifications contain 3 years of security patch address and at least one Android edition update during its life span. It supports the Android Enterprise function set, like Google’s Zero-contact enrolment system, and has been tested from a range of enrolment and plan deployment test conditions with top EMM alternative providers (VMware Workspace A single, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Cellular Iron).

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


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

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet


The Cat S42 looks like a proper rugged cell phone: it can be chunky and relatively weighty for a five.five-inch handset, measuring seventy seven.2mm vast 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, furthermore hinged covers for the (legacy) Micro-USB charge/relationship port at the bottom, the 3.5mm headset jack on the top, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the remaining facet.

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There are big bezels encompassing the five.five-inch display, which give the Cat S42 one thing of an previous-fashioned glimpse — the display-to-system ratio is just sixty two.7%, compared to fashionable minimum-bezel telephones with ratios over ninety%.

The display alone is an IPS panel with reasonable Hd+ resolution (1,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), fantastic utmost brightness and vast viewing angles. It really is usable with moist fingers and when putting on gloves, is shielded by Gorilla Glass five and also slightly recessed, with the encompassing ridge supplying extra security. Image quality is good for relatively static pictures, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness function did not perform effectively for me: I had to change to handbook and flip up the brightness to get good out of doors readability, and even then the reflective display intended I typically had to request a shady location.

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There is certainly no fingerprint sensor or deal with recognition: you unlock this cell phone with a regular six-digit PIN. If you will not want to preserve moving into your PIN all through the working day, you can use Android’s Smart Lock function to preserve the handset unlocked when it can be about your person, in specified trustworthy destinations and when linked to trustworthy units like a Bluetooth look at or your car’s infotainment method.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 score, which signifies it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and grime, and can cope with immersion in drinking water to 1.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It really is 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 drop-tested on just about every facet and corner multiple times from 1.8 metres (six ft) on to a metal floor. 


The Cat S42 can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the exact time. The copper-coloured Programmable Crucial can also initiate a PTT (Thrust To Communicate) connect with.

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The proper facet has a textured ability button and volume up/down controls, whilst the SIM/MicroSD card tray is behind a address on the remaining, next to copper-coloured Programmable Crucial, which can also initiate PTT (Thrust To Communicate) method with suited application assist. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed listed here can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the exact time, which is handy. There is certainly a 3.5mm headphone jack beneath a address at the top, and a speaker grille at the bottom, next to the covered Micro-USB charging/relationship port. Audio quality from the speaker is realistic, but you’ll want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the greatest audio practical experience.

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


The Cat S42 is run by an entry-amount MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-main ARM Cortex-A53 CPU functioning at up to 1.8GHz and a 550MHz IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU. There is a modest 3GB of RAM and a miserly 32GB of inner storage — although as observed over, this can be augmented with exterior MicroSD storage (up to 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem supports 9 LTE bands, which is a lot less than the S61’s 14, so take take note if you might be organizing to travel extensively. For other wi-fi connections, you get wi-fi (two.four/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (five), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). There is certainly also an FM radio, furthermore an e-compass, proximity, ambient light and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s most important 13MP camera has an f/two. lens and can greatest be explained as suitable (see pictures down below) — a description that also applies to the 5MP front camera. Pictures is just not a precedence for this rugged cell phone, but it delivers appropriate stage-and-shoot pictures.


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

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android 10 was put in on our overview unit There is certainly no OS overlay, but a truthful amount of pre-put in software like Toolbox, which provides a curated variety of applications beneath numerous headings — Enterprise Instruments, Cat Applications, Construction, Farming, Outside, Rugged Instruments. If you find that the 32GB of inner storage is filling up rapid, you can normally uninstall some of the 3rd-social gathering applications (or invest in a MicroSD card).


As effectively as a number of 3rd-social gathering applications, the Cat S42 will come with Toolbox, which curates a range of applications suited for a rugged cell phone.

Photographs: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable four,200mAh unit with rapid charging assist (although it can be not as sizeable as the five,000mAh battery in the Cat S41). There is certainly no assist for wi-fi charging.

Performance & battery daily life

Performance is the Cat S42’s weakest place, many thanks to its entry-amount Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It delivered regular scores of 132 (solitary main) and 483 (multi main) in the Geekbench five CPU test, but failed to operate the Compute GPU test. Major scores for Android telephones in the CPU assessments technique 900 (solitary main) and 3300 (multi main) at the time of producing.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Work two. suite, which covers web searching, online video enhancing, producing, image enhancing and details manipulation. The in general Work two. score was 4915, which is on the minimal facet — course-top handsets currently arrive in at over 13000.

Underneath the PCMark Work two. battery test, the Cat S42 took eighteen several hours 37 minutes to go from 100% to 20% of the four,200mAh battery’s capability. On this foundation, you ought to get at least two doing work times of battery daily life before demanding a recharge, which is amazing. This also beats the documented 13h 16m outcome for its predecessor, the Cat S41, even with the latter’s more substantial five,000mAh battery.


Photographs: Cat Telephones


The Cat S42 is one thing of a mixed bag. It really is correctly rugged, reasonably priced at £229, gives fantastic enterprise options, and the battery daily life is great. On the other hand, the blend of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inner storage is distinctly entry-amount, and there are display difficulties (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), limited 4G frequency assist, furthermore a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints could find the Cat S42 suitable for their requires, but Samsung’s renewed force into the enterprise rugged smartphone space with the $499.ninety nine/£529 Galaxy XCover Pro will be tempting if cost is a lot less of an issue.

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