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

Nancy J. Delong

Cat-branded smartphones, which are built and created by the Bullitt Group, selection from absolutely rugged, feature-laden gadgets like the flagship 5.2-inch Cat S61 (£649) to the 5.65-inch S52 (£380), which whilst nevertheless impressively robust, offers a sleeker and more purchaser-welcoming style.

Filling a hole involving these gadgets arrives the new 5.5-inch Cat S42, an organization-all set rugged smartphone aimed at discipline personnel, to start with responders, hospital staff and any individual else who needs a hard, simple-to-clean up machine that can take care of mainstream workloads.

With the purchaser sector swiftly saturating, the organization and ‘firstline’ sectors are receiving increasing attention, with Samsung, for instance, not too long ago presenting its to start with rugged cellphone 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 include and at least just one Android edition update during its lifetime. It supports the Android Business feature set, which include Google’s Zero-touch enrolment application, and has been examined towards a selection of enrolment and plan deployment exam scenarios with major EMM remedy providers (VMware Workspace One, IBM MaaS 360, SOTI, Mobile Iron).

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


The 5.5-inch Cat S42 has an IP68 ranking for dust/h2o resistance and is MIL-STD 810H compliant. It operates on the MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inner storage, powered by a 4,200mAh battery.

Illustrations or photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Style and design

The Cat S42 appears to be like like a correct rugged cellphone: it really is chunky and reasonably hefty 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, protective bumpers on the corners, in addition hinged covers for the (legacy) Micro-USB demand/relationship port at the bottom, the three.5mm headset jack on the major, and the SIM/MicroSD card tray on the remaining facet.

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There are massive bezels surrounding the 5.5-inch monitor, which give the Cat S42 something of an outdated-fashioned appear — the monitor-to-physique ratio is just sixty, compared to modern-day minimum-bezel phones with ratios over 90%.

The monitor itself is an IPS panel with reasonable High definition+ resolution (1,440 x 720 pixels, 293ppi), very good highest brightness and extensive viewing angles. It truly is usable with moist fingers and when putting on gloves, is shielded by Gorilla Glass 5 and also slightly recessed, with the surrounding ridge supplying supplemental safety. Picture high quality is wonderful for reasonably static photos, but scrolling could be smoother and the sluggish adaptive brightness feature failed to perform properly for me: I experienced to swap to guide and turn up the brightness to get decent outside readability, and even then the reflective monitor meant I usually experienced to seek a shady location.

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

You can find no fingerprint sensor or experience recognition: you unlock this cellphone with a conventional 6-digit PIN. If you really don’t want to keep coming into your PIN all through the day, you can use Android’s Smart Lock feature to keep the handset unlocked when it really is about your human being, in specific reliable places and when connected to reliable gadgets like a Bluetooth enjoy or your car’s infotainment system.

The Cat S42 has an IP68 ranking, which signifies it can resist the ingress of sand, dust and filth, and can take care of immersion in h2o to 1.5m depth for up to 35 minutes. It truly is also MIL-STD 810H compliant and can as a result cope with specified stages of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. The handset has also been fall-examined on every facet and corner several situations from 1.eight metres (6 feet) onto a steel surface area. 


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

Picture: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

There are ports and controls on all sides of the Cat S42. The appropriate facet has a textured electric power button and quantity up/down controls, whilst the SIM/MicroSD card tray is at the rear of a include on the remaining, upcoming to copper-colored Programmable Crucial, which can also initiate PTT (Drive To Communicate) manner with acceptable application assist. The twin-SIM variant of the S42 reviewed listed here can accommodate two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the very same time, which is beneficial. You can find a three.5mm headphone jack less than a include at the major, and a speaker grille at the bottom, upcoming to the included Micro-USB charging/relationship port. Audio high quality from the speaker is sensible, but you can expect to want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for the very best audio working experience.

At the front, the major bezel houses the 5MP front digital camera, earpiece and ambient gentle sensor, whilst the again has the primary 13MP digital camera and an LED flash unit.


The Cat S42 is powered by an entry-amount MediaTek Helio A20 chipset with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU running 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 — though as noted earlier mentioned, this can be augmented with external MicroSD storage (up to 128GB).

The Cat S42’s 4G LTE modem supports nine LTE bands, which is much less than the S61’s 14, so acquire note if you might be preparing to journey extensively. For other wireless connections, you get wi-fi (2.4/5GHz 802.11ac), Bluetooth (5), NFC and GPS (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo). You can find also an FM radio, in addition an e-compass, proximity, ambient gentle and accelerometer sensors.

The Cat S42’s primary 13MP digital camera has an f/2. lens and can very best be explained as sufficient (see photos under) — a description that also applies to the 5MP front digital camera. Photography is just not a precedence for this rugged cellphone, but it delivers suitable level-and-shoot photos.


Illustrations or photos from the Cat S42’s 13MP primary digital camera.

Illustrations or photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Android 10 was set up on our critique unit You can find no OS overlay, but a good amount of pre-set up software which include Toolbox, which presents a curated variety of applications less than numerous headings — Small business Resources, Cat Apps, Construction, Farming, Outdoor, Rugged Resources. If you find that the 32GB of inner storage is filling up rapid, you can generally uninstall some of the 3rd-social gathering applications (or buy a MicroSD card).


As properly as a quantity of 3rd-social gathering applications, the Cat S42 arrives with Toolbox, which curates a selection of applications acceptable for a rugged cellphone.

Illustrations or photos: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The battery is a sizeable 4,200mAh unit with rapid charging assist (though it really is not as sizeable as the 5,000mAh battery in the Cat S41). You can find no assist for wireless charging.

Performance & battery existence

Performance is the Cat S42’s weakest region, thanks to its entry-amount Helio A20 chipset and 3GB of RAM. It shipped regular scores of 132 (solitary core) and 483 (multi core) in the Geekbench 5 CPU exam, but failed to operate the Compute GPU exam. Foremost scores for Android phones in the CPU exams approach 900 (solitary core) and 3300 (multi core) at the time of producing.

We also ran the PCMark for Android Work 2. suite, which covers web searching, video clip enhancing, producing, picture enhancing and information manipulation. The all round Work 2. rating was 4915, which is on the lower facet — course-major handsets currently appear in at over 13000.

Beneath the PCMark Work 2. battery exam, the Cat S42 took 18 hours 37 minutes to go from one hundred% to twenty% of the 4,200mAh battery’s potential. On this foundation, you should get at least two performing times of battery existence ahead of requiring a recharge, which is remarkable. This also beats the described 13h 16m outcome for its predecessor, the Cat S41, even with the latter’s bigger 5,000mAh battery.


Illustrations or photos: Cat Phones


The Cat S42 is something of a combined bag. It truly is effectively rugged, affordable at £229, offers very good organization functions, and the battery existence is fantastic. 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 monitor difficulties (scrolling, adaptive brightness, reflectivity), minimal 4G frequency assist, in addition a legacy Micro-USB port to contend with.

Organisations with budgetary constraints may well find the Cat S42 sufficient for their needs, but Samsung’s renewed push into the organization rugged smartphone place with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Professional will be tempting if expense is much less of an difficulty.

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