Cat S60 review


THE CAT S60’s spec sheet reads more like a superhero’s vital statistics, and the military-grade protection, strong angular looks and the ability to identify heat signatures make it a thing of wonder. But aside from its very niche uses, how does it stand up against a vast Android supporting cast?

The Cat S60 has a chunky and somewhat octagonal design, and is the hardiest phone we’ve ever got our hands on. Usually that’s a cause for concern, designed more for protection than power, and to an extent that’s the case here.

Cat S60 review - ruggedized build

The Cat S60 has a rugged charm, but it’s not ugly by any means thanks to the mixture of carbon fibre and stainless steel. It’s all angles, but pleasingly smooth to the touch.

The Cat S60 has been designed to survive in the toughest conditions. It’s drop-proof to a height of 1.8 metres, it can survive up to five metres underwater for 60 minutes (in order to activate the underwater mode you’ll need to flick two rather stiff switches), and can handle temperatures of -25°C to 55°C.

Such hardiness means it exceeds even military specifications. What’s more, it’s protected against salt, dust, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation and thermal shock. You could dole out a ton of punishment and it wouldn’t leave a mark.

And we suspect the Cat S60 hasn’t been designed to slot neatly into a trouser pocket, as at 148x73x12.7mm and 225g it’s far more at home in a toolbelt.

Cat S60 review - SOS button

On the left you’ll find two protruding buttons. One is for power and the other is a colourful programmable key. Flaps cover the headphone and USB ports, along with a SOS button that we’ll talk about in Software a little later.

Towards the bottom you’ll find three textured physical (not capacitive, hurrah!) buttons: Back, Home and Most Recent. These are rather spongy but have a satisfyingly large hit area.

Around the back, the Lepton Thermal Microcamera Module sits above the 13MP camera, and a flap next to that hides a compartment where the SIM and microSD reside.

The Cat S60 has a 4.7in a-Si AHVA display with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels (312ppi). The screen is the only thing that really lets the S60 down as that 720p resolution doesn’t belong in 2016, and certainly not on a handset costing £529.

Cat S60 review - HD screen

It’s not as if it’s especially bright either. Colours are muted and lack vibrancy, and
we can’t even praise the S60’s viewing angles or readability in direct sunlight owing to the reflective nature of the Gorilla Glass. This is something of a limiting factor for a handset that’s been designed for use in the field.

We were led to believe we could use the S60 with wet hands, but most of our attempts were unsuccessful and on those occasions that it worked we were left frustrated more than anything else.

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