+ Wednesday May 22nd, 2019

When you think of well built and robust phone hardware, CAT probably aren’t a company at the forefront of your mind. You’re probably thinking Samsung, LG, Motorola to name a few but CAT? They’re well known for their heavy machinery, power systems and associated parts so that’s why their phones are focused on users who work in rough and tough environments like tradies and FIFO workers.

It’s easy to look at any phone and immediately try to bracket it based on price and specs, the S61 will confuse anyone that tries to do that because it’s a pretty pricey phone at an RRP of AU$1399.00. It isn’t highly specced, but is massively functional if you’re in their target market.

I can’t emphasise enough that this is a phone that is aimed at users who spend the majority of their time in really harsh environments and would probably destroy standard build phones pretty quickly, even with the assistance of cases like the Life Proof ones that Duncan’s near death experience gave a real life example of recently.

What’s inside?

The S61 is a pretty hefty device, rated to withstand impacts directly to concrete from 1.8 meters and sporting Gorilla Glass 5 to add to the – its IP68 rated aluminium frame measures in at 150 x 76 x 13mm and weighs 250 grams which is reasonably hefty compared to other devices of similar screen size. It’s a 5.2-inch screen that runs at 1080 x 1920 resolution, 16 x 9 ratio and 424 ppi – so not too bad in the screen stakes.

The S61 has a huge range of connectivity options that you’d expect from a current generation of mobile device. The highlights are the headphone jack, Bluetooth 5.0 A2DP, NFC, a nice addition is the FM radio (given the tradie target market) and CAT have been smart about this one – USB Type C connector.

The performance based internals are driven by a Snapdragon 630 and Adreno 508 which aren’t the really sharp end of specs, but get the job done. For those that need extra storage, there’s 64GB on board, up to 256GB MicroSD expansion capability and 4GB of RAM. The 4500mAh battery will keep your phone going across a really long day without the need to find power, even if you do – a short burst with a Quick Charge compatible charger will see you up to speed for the rest of the day. All of this is on Android 8 Oreo with plans to go to Android 9.0 “in the future”.

There’s a few omissions on the software front, primarily around security. There’s no fingerprint sensor, and there’s no face unlock. I genuinely didn’t realise how much I use these with my daily driver until the function wasn’t there for me to use.

The base specs aren’t the main selling point for this phone though, they’re a sideline to the features on offer that other devices don’t have.

FLIR camera and other bells

The FLIR camera for most users is very cool, for tradies it can offer some really useful vision and insight into their work area which can even be extended into first response for emergency services (although where required, they’ll generally have a full thermal imaging camera as part of their response equipment cache.

For those not aware of what it is, FLIR will give you insight into your surrounding environment and the thermal output of items around you. The hotter it is, the more luminous an item appears on the screen.

This has potential application for electricians looking for hot spots, tradies who are mixing chemicals or items that can become pretty warm to check safety and first responders looking for people in areas that are dangerous or difficult to access to name a few obvious options.

Laser Measuring tool

Aimed at tradies, the laser measure is very useful when you need a quick point to point measure. It does require calibration though and you’ll rue the day you calibrate it if you’re not very accurate with your calibration measurements.

Even if you are accurate with your calibration measurements, it’s extremely unlikely to be millimetre accurate – so be cautious with what projects you use this to measure with. It’s an excellent starting point, but precise measurements should be done 2 or 3 times by hand and checked again!

Air Quality Meter

This is another good gauge vs a definitive indication of the environment around you. It takes a few days to start working from when you first turn on the device and will give you a reasonable indicator of the air quality around you – useful for first responders before higher quality equipment can be deployed or DIY enthusiasts working in confined space to keep a bit of an eye on the air quality you’re breathing to protect your health.

What’s it good at?

The really big plus of the S61 is that the thing is nearly indestructible. They state that it is capable of surviving drops from 1.8 meters directly onto concrete and I can honestly attest to this having dropped it several times on to not just concrete, but slate and bitumen from varying heights and running over it with a trailer (sorry about that CAT).

Having given it a few good whacks, some deliberate and some not… there are no obvious markings on the phone that show that it’s been knocked around. This impressed me a lot, it’s a phone that will likely hold some decent resale value as you’ll struggle to knock it around to make it look second hand.

The screen was something of a surprise packet for me. I’ve dealt with some heavy duty phones in the past and the screens have been somewhat lacklustre. They give you dull back lighting, low resolution and while its functional – it’s not easy on the eyes and outdoors, just forget it… The screen doesn’t handle the bright lights too well.

Not an issue for the S61 at all, it’s bright and easy to read in or out of doors and offers high enough resolution to be easy on the eyes and really functional for anything you decide to throw at it and very importantly, it’s highly responsive.

Thermal Imaging (where applicable) is really useful but isn’t for everyone. Tradies in certain areas will love it, as will first responders but once the novelty wears off for a lot of users this will quickly stop being used.

Finally on the plus side: A real highlight for me was the battery life from the S61, on multiple occasions I got 2 days out of it. Off charge at 6 am and onto charge the next night at about 11 when I went to bed. There’s a combination of factors involved here, but if you’re someone who isn’t near power all day then this is going to not just be a good feature – but a blessing!

What’s it not so good at?

Putting it mildly, it’s expensive – really expensive ($1399 as mentioned earlier) for a relatively under-powered phone. But in comparison to replacing your phone on a regular basis because you’ve dropped and broken it, dropped in into water or paint or run over it with a vehicle – you get the idea.

The other thing that really bears mention is the performance on this phone. It’s going to be fine for most users, but anyone who comes from a recent model, high performance phone is going to notice the load times of apps and general performance of the phone.

While they’re very functional and quite capable in decent lighting conditions, the cameras aren’t going to set the world on fire. In fact they’re probably lacking a bit of detail at times if you’re a big phone photo taker. Compared to some of the higher quality cameras, the colour is a bit washed out and at times verging on grainy finish on the photos.

Should you buy one?

There’s a pretty tight target market for the CAT S61 and it’s users who live and work in harsh environments that need a phone capable of surviving the day with them. If you’re not in a trade or industry that fits that bill then you’re not a target user.

The cost is going to be a bit of a barrier for some people, $1399 is a lot to pay for a phone that’s not a top flight flagship with all the trimmings. But that’s honestly not the point of this particular phone. It’s really well built and will take a beating, get up and ask for more!

If the cost isn’t an issue then you need to take into consideration the heft of it, I wouldn’t want to be carrying this around in my pocket all day. I’d want to be in a vehicle, with the phone next to me or in a carry bag during the day – it’s just a bit uncomfortable carrying it in your pocket and just trust me, you don’t want to sit down with it in your pocket if your jeans are well fitted.

That’s the end of the downside and to be honest, if you’re in their target market – they’re pretty minor deterrents. The major upside is that the CAT S61, despite being pretty chunky is as close to indestructible as I have seen any phone. I’ve dropped it, thrown in and run over it with a trailer and after all that I handed it to the most destructive force I know – my 6 year old daughter who didn’t manage to break it either.

There’s some really cool functions that are massive value ad for tradies and those who work in really harsh environments. The S61 isn’t for me being a generally office based worker and there’s a lot of users who won’t use and don’t need or want these features. At the end of the day though, I’m really impressed by what CAT have put together here with clear consideration to their target market.

The CAT S61 is available through Harvey Norman in store and online.

Phil Tann   Associate

Phil Tann

Phil is an Android enthusiast who spends most of his time reading up on U.S. Android news so he can get the low down on what could possibly hit Australian shores. Coming from a background in IT & T sales, he’s in the perfect position to give an educated view on hardware and software.

31
Join the Ausdroid Conversation

avatar
30 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
3 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
31 Comment authors
Sarah B.ChristianRobGaddafi AdamuJuan Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Sarah B.
Guest
Sarah B.

What network does this phone work on? Will it work with Verizon? Or what retailer for serving?

Christian
Guest
Christian

Muy malos teléfonos mi CAT S50 tuvo un daño de software por actualización OTA, mi amigo tuvo un S60 se le daño ya que le salpicó el agua de la playa y se fundió, pésima atención al cliente.

Rob
Guest
Rob

I am really happy with s61. As a mechanic it has been dropped a few times on to hard surfaces. The floor comes in handy for checking out problems with exhaust systems, a/c systems and coolant faults. I have had it nearly a year and the screen protector it comes with is still like new. I tend to wash it off in the shower at the end of the day and no issues at all.

Gaddafi Adamu
Guest
Gaddafi Adamu

Cat S60 caterpillar phone

Juan
Guest
Juan

S50 had it for more than 5 years, been with me through underground mining, all over Africa. And hydraulic industry gets soaked in oil and grease every day, I don’t play games on it, it’s a phone and that’s what I use it for and this one has been tough as shit, broke her screen last week, and don’t mind as it has been in wars, if I could I’d have all our employees use them, th
ek can use there private phones for games and photos

Allen
Guest
Allen

Really great device for outdoor industries. Mine broke and they replaced it in 3 days no questions asked. I am glad I made the choice.

Andre Gentil
Guest

I paid only $1013 on eBay, I live in Australia and I still got it in three days and I love it. It lasts for 4 to 9 days without recharge, depending on hard you use it. It’s fallen out of my top pocket and sometimes kicked it from the fall,
and not a Scratch. The only problem I have is that it’s a little too sensitive on the main screen, and hope they can upgrade it with a desensitizing sliding bar app, for when you’re not wearing gloves. Other than that it’s perfect.

Fukuoka International Democratic School
Guest

I’m a teacher with the S60, shortly to move to the S61, and this is the perfect phone for the job. Dropped every week on playground, pool or classroom floor, and able to check children’s temperature. Tough teachers in tough classes can benefit from a phone with real grunt!

Eduard
Guest
Eduard

Rubbish!

Walter van Praag
Guest
Walter van Praag

I had the S60 and the mic mash fell of which apparently is common and was a manufacturing issue. I was unable to get the part in australia but eventually had one shipped for free to a friend in England (where they did that routinely but were not able to send it to australia). Given the lack of service in Australia and knowing my battery life was going quick I decided to go back to the samsung galaxy again. Another factor was the relatively pathetic camera. Due to the air sensor, radio, and the improved flir camera I would like… Read more »

peter alford
Guest
peter alford

Have s60 had for 18months good phone sound is shit not enough volume hard to see screen in bright sunlight but robust and flir is great

Don Campbell
Guest
Don Campbell

Had a s60 4 years and it took a MAJOR beating. From drop kick it across the parking lot to sitting in 20′ of salt water over night.dried it out was good to go Huge fan but had to replace when screen finally exploded. Like the s61 but features aren’t as user freindly . Haven’t sent it swimming yet but has spent a weekend banging around in the bilge if boat for 2 days when I thought it went overboard!

Glenn E Murray
Guest
Glenn E Murray

Had the cat s60 for 12months now. Yes it had its problems with jamming or stalling but i dont mind that ive dropped it more than a few times and the glass is still clear. To the guy with the scratched case, what would it look like if the glass was broken? A seriously tough phone. Very handy infra red camera for finding air leaks in airconditioned rooms, saving energy!! Worth the money!

Jeni Skunk
Ausdroid Reader

Reading the poor/non-english replies on this article, has me wondering if it’s been hit by the foreign spam brigade.

Scott b
Guest
Scott b

I had s60. Did awesome for over a year. Had a water leak on a unit and got some antifreeze on myself and phone. No problem I said, phone full water proof and I’ve tested a few times while cleaning it. That being said friends started calling left and right my sos was sending out messages, took hundreds of pics on inside my shirt pocket and then started powering off on it’s own. After a little while the screen became scrambled and that was the end of the s60. Now I have the doogee for 400 bucks. Half that of… Read more »

Scott
Guest
Scott

I had s60. Did awesome for over a year. Had a water leak on a unit and got some antifreeze on myself and phone. No problem I said, phone full water proof and I’ve tested a few times while cleaning it. That being said friends started calling left and right my sos was sending out messages, took hundreds of pics on inside my shirt pocket and then started powering off on it’s own. After a little while the screen became scrambled and that was the end of the s60. Now I have the doogee for 400 bucks. Half that of… Read more »

Craig Hickman
Guest
Craig Hickman

I got the Cat S60 which sells for around $850 on line.. stil got same indestructible case n FLIR.. but not the air sensor. N I swear by it being tuff. N suits me as I in waste industry n trucks n outdoors all time all weather.

Owner
Guest
Owner

Hi I am disappointed as you not listed main downsides – If you shake phone it rattles- buttons are loose Headphone flap once opened will not shut down or opens on its own all times. Programmable buttons don’t work in apps and torch been taken away from short press… Battery is crap after. 4 months use. Dual SIM or sim and tf which is downgrade compared to S60. Bluetooth does not work with numerous devices as example stereo systems and household appliances…. Did I mention that cat not offering replacement just repair service which takes ages… So like not having… Read more »

Freddie Halgreen
Guest
Freddie Halgreen

I am a Fire chief and have had my S60 for 2 years now, I use the features on a daily basis, previous phones lasted me no more than 3 months. I’m a serious CAT fan, just ordered my new S61, hope it keeps up the good legisy of CAT!

Pyry Turja
Guest
Pyry Turja

I got the s61 august last year and I love it, for the design and functions. It’s always a talking point when I meet new people and impress them with stuff their phones can never do. It has a few design issues. The CAT letters at the back come off. Not easily, but enough times putting it in pocket and back made the middle A letter come off. I think that’s annoyingly cheap design for a 900€ phone. I’m not very happy with that. One thing to take into account: the edges are not steel. They’re aluminum. Aluminum is light… Read more »

Paulo abrao Sales
Guest
Paulo abrao Sales

Comprei o s61 não tem um mês de uso sua bateria não suporta muito tempo não em média um dia se usar wlaf se estiver com dados móveis piorou ..não dá pro dia

Pierre de Villiers
Guest
Pierre de Villiers

The cat phones are not known for good signal,I had the b15 and the s60 and the signal is very poor,I put it next to my samsung,andy Samsung has signal and updates cthe signal quickly when I move tow different areas, where as this phone doesn’t,the screen touch sensor also just stopped working. Not a good phone,looks very nice though and the heat sensor is useful.

Antonio
Guest
Antonio

Yo tengo CAT S60 TIENE 2 AÑOS SEME CALLÓ DE LAS MANOS Y AGRIETO LA A PANTALLA

Guillermo ginestet
Guest
Guillermo ginestet

Tengo un S60 es una basura …el sistema android se bloquea y la cámara flir dejo de andar a la semana de uso …pescado podrido

The G
Guest
The G

They sure are tough. But thier software is total crap. I’ve been through the S30 and the S31. Neither made 10 months.
Had 8 S30 replacements in its month stay, before it was swapped out for the S31.
Had exactly the same trouble.
Software.
Otherwise very user friendly.

y. van ark
Guest
y. van ark

Had a s60 didnt even last me 6 months. Not waterproof at all. Cat didnt compensate me in any way. These things sucks a..

Duong ngoc quyen
Guest
Duong ngoc quyen

I have s60, but I have problem with memories card ( do not see) and some time auto turn off, the signal is not good ( comparing to Samsung or other smart. The coating of behide size too easy broken

Brad
Guest
Brad

I have the S41, similar specs without the thermal imaging and a rubber casing. Coming in at half the S61 price. It’s the best phone I’ve come across for tough environmentd and I’ve tried so many that have failed. Usually the screen. Sometimes the specs. After 6 months I can’t fault it.

Eronaldo Lima
Guest
Eronaldo Lima

Adquiri um S60 a pouco mais de um ano, estou bem satisfeito, algumas coisas deixa a desejar.tipo o Android ainda é o 0.6 .

Cepi
Guest
Cepi

I have it and I love this phone.
It’s like a Tank with Lamborghini engine with 5000L fuel tank capacity.

Chris Rowland
Ausdroid Director

That’s one hell of an amazing visual

Check Also

Huawei Australia moves to reassure customers following US ban affecting Android smartphones

Huawei Australia has moved to reassure its local smartphone customers, following the news yesterday that …