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Review CAT S41: A Rugged Smartphone for Operators in Site environments

By UK Plant Operators

The modern phone it has to be said is overpriced and fragile to say the least as the manufacturers have gone for style and technology rather than think about the environment we work and play in. Research has shown that there are a lot of us who care about battery life and durability and CAT have achieved this with the S41

 UK Plant operators we invited to review and test the new cat s 41 tough phone, due to our very nature of who we are what we do we found this a great opportunity to possibly find a phone that would suite us plant and machinery operators, a phone that would stand up to the hard demand of daily site use, the dust the rattling around, the rain, and of course we have the brand association with a very popular machine, is this phone capable of standing side by side with a fantastically made machine? If it’s built and lasts half as long, we are on to a winner.

 Specs

  • 5-inch Gorilla Glass 5 1080p LCD display
  • Android 7.0
  • 5,000 mAh battery
  • Octacore 2.3GHz processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • microUSB and 3.5mm ports
  • 32GB of storage with microSD support (up to 2TB)
  • IP68 water and dustproofing (up to 2 metres of water for 60 minutes)
  • Drop tested to a height of 1.8 metres/six feet
  • Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, and NFC connectivity
  • Nano SIM, with dual and single SIM variants
  • 152 x 75 x 12.85 mm, 215 grams

 Other points of note

  • Programmable button on the left hand-side
  • Physical navigation buttons
  • E-compass
  • Battery Share
  • No biometric security
  • Single speaker
  • Pump Express 2.0 fast charging
  • FM Radio

 

Design

 So first impressions of the phone are good, seems very tough and well made, if you’re like me, looking after my phone has been quite a ritual, tough cases, screen protectors, special cloths for cleaning the screen, well, with this phone there is none of that, the phone actually looks and feels ready to go work,  it has a nice rubber feel to it, it looks like it would bounce of the side of a digger track if it was to fall out of your pocket (which we tried)  and water proof if it were to land in a puddle, also the screen seems a very good size, with three dominate buttons on the front of a raised profile which make it easy to find the buttons, even if you were wearing gloves on a cold rainy day, or stood across a trench waiting for you pipe to be laid.  It has rubber grommets covering all the ports, permanently so these need to be pulled out for attaching the charger and headphones etc, which in my eyes is a good thing, this gives it 24 7 protection,  you know what its like when jumping in and out of a trench all day, mud, stones and dust gets in your pockets and before you know it in to the terminals on your phone,  so I like the fact it constantly protected, just a quick wipe off on your jeans and ready to rock and roll.

Some of you will also have a phone holder in your machine, vacuumed sucked to the window, you know what it’s like tracking around all day the vibration up through the cab and especially when you hit that bit of hard standing or tarmac the phone holder lets go  and before you know it the phone and holder are under the track pedals mixing with the dust and rubble,  at best it just dirty, worst you have the dreaded cracked screen of death,  so me I’m very much a fan of this very rugged construction of the S41,

 Driving the Phone

Well honestly at first I found it hard to navigate, I’m so used to the iPhone way of life, it was just as simple as my finger kept going in the wrong direction to navigate, but having said that after a few hours things started to become easier and the more time I spent using it the better I became,  I never thought I would hear my self say this but I think I actually prefer the android operating system it’s so much easier to use, everything is there, no subscriptions to things just straight forward, it’s the little things like google search bar right there on the home screen,  A back button is very handy when you need to go back, the camera function was nice and simple to use with some good effects,  I also like the tabs button to the right which shows all the tabs you are on or have visited, this can go back almost for the duration of time have had the phone which made navigating the phone very easy, some of the pre-set apps were helpful also, I liked the office sweet, ideal for doing my time sheet scan and save as pdf with one button press,  literally send my time sheet in minutes.

 Battery Share Function

Now let’s get down to its unique selling feature, the large battery and it share function, how cool is this, so being an avid ex iPhone user one of the big problems I faced was having to charge my phone at least twice a day, I would leave it on all night and start the day with the full battery, by at least 3pm I was getting the warning that I need to charge again, so out came all the accessories like battery packs car chargers or the spare charger I have to carry about in the snack bag,  guess what!  I need none of that now, this battery is a monster and I mean a monster, and even with all the pictures and Facebook time I use, some days I come home and its still on 80% so don’t even need to put it on charge in the evening, so yes that’s right the charge can last 2 days! And that’s not it either, I can bail out my work mates on site with the new battery share function, all I do is plug the supplied cable and plug their drained iPhone into mine, set the amount of battery I wish to share making sure I don’t leave myself short and It will charge away, this is now getting annoying, event the kids have cottoned on to this and all get is dad can I have a charge please!

 Screen

The screen is what they call Gorilla glass 5 which was launched last summer which means its more than capable of standing up to not just being dropped but also scratching, something I have always had a problem with, as I mentioned earlier the stones rubbing against it in your pocket, this gorilla glass five can withstand an attack with a Stanley knife and constant rubbing with keys without causing any visible marks. But for those of you who are extra cautious there is a stick-on screen protector in the box.

 Water weather proof

The phone has an ip168 rated water and dust proofing, which means it can handle being submerged completely in water for about an hour ata a depth of up to 2 meters, so that means you can take the odd picture underwater possibly, maybe use it in the bath, or most importantly if you leave it somewhere in the rain.

It has a temperature rating of -25 and plus 55 degrees which considering where we all live and the average weather conditions of the uk we will more commonly visit the lower side of that scale, but having said that you know how hot you phone can get if left on the dash of your machine.

 The drop tests

CAT have extensively tested this phone for falling from height and officially stated its capable of surviving a fall from 1.8 meters high onto concrete, so our drop test included dropping it from the cab onto the site road and onto the machine tracks, it stood up well.

Camera

Against some of the fancier phones out there the camera is not the best I have used, its still ok with a 13mp camera fitted to this device, takes a half decent picture, just takes a few practices to learn how to use it, by this I mean hold it for longer to get a crisp focus, but once you get the hang of it the results aren’t too bad, it’s a bit grainy in low light conditions but I feel its more sharper than an average iPhone in good light situations and also has some good filters and also the HDR mode so if your using for Facebook I think you will be fine.

Summery

 Why it fits our followers is because this phone is designed for professionals and site workers, most of these guys are wearing safety gloves and the phone still works with them on.

I love the rugged feel to it and the fact I don’t need a care package to go with it, I like the fact although its rugged and water proof it functions well, to me it’s a phone, for the tough working environment. It’s not stylish, but apart from the women operators neither are we, but it’s got a big battery and can cope with some tough treatment, the battery can be used to charge other devices, can pretty much survive a drop from 2metres, it has no real gimmicks is easy to use and is just as heavy as my iPhone with the battery charging case I use.

Perfect for the operative who wants a good smartphone at a reasonable price and who doesn’t want to replace countless screens and phone due to the nature of the industry we are in. Well done CAT an excellent addition to the tool box…..

 

 

About Dale Hawkins

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