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Rugged smartphones are taking the world by storm due to their exceptional resistance to damage. One of the most talked-about rugged phones on the market is Cat S61. Launched three years ago, it offers many high-quality features and contains some solid improvement over its predecessor.

Let’s take an in-depth look and find out just how good CAT S61 is and who can benefit from this device.

Our Verdict

Overall Score: 8/10

CAT S61 isn’t an average rugged smartphone. It comes with a wide variety of hi-tech features, such as laser measurement, air quality meters, and thermal imaging. The device is encased in a sturdy body that doesn’t crack under pressure easily. There’s also an antenna bump in the upper section to provide a distinctive look.

The most significant downside of this gadget is its performance. The phone’s operations can sometimes get sluggish, but this isn’t too big an obstacle.

While this information provides a clearer picture of CAT S61, we’ll still need to consider many more details to determine if buying it’s a wise investment.

Pros and Cons of S61

Pros:

  • VOC (Voice of the Customer)
  • Improved IR camera
  • Well-balanced hardware
  • Enhanced path to Android Pie
  • IP69-rated
  • Supports dual SIM
  • Extended battery life
  • Efficient measurement tools

Cons:

  • Sluggish at times
  • Too heavy for some people
  • A bit on the expensive side

Specifications

CAT S61 wasn’t designed to compete against Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone 10, or other ultra-fast devices. It runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, 4GB of Ram, and 64GB of flash memory, placing it just below these flagship gadgets. The 5.2-inch full HD display is shielded by Corning Gorilla technology. You also get Bluetooth 5.0, a 16-megapixel rear camera, and an 8-megapixel front camera.

The battery is another highlight of S61, offering 4500 mAh and quick charging. The durability is nearly unmatched, backed by the IP69 certification standards. As for the operating system, the phone is shipped with Android 8.0 Oreo. The manufacturer has committed to upgrading the software to Android Pie, so the future looks bright for this smartphone.

Specifications:

Operating systemAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Size163 x 78 x 13 millimeters (6.42 x 3.07 x 0.51 inches)
Weight250 grams (8.82 ounces)
Display5.2 inches
Display resolution1080 x 1920 pixels,
DurabilityRugged; IP69-certified
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 630 Octa-core 2.2GHz
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C, 4G
StorageRAM: 4GB; Flash Memory: 64GB
Rear Camera16 MP
Front Camera8 MP
BatteryNon-removable 4500 mAh Li-Ion with 35 hours of talk time and 880 hours of standby time
ColorBlack
SIMHybrid Dual SIM
GPUAdreno 508

Alternative Devices

Fans of rugged phones can consider two options besides the CAT S61. The first one is CAT S42 H+.

One of the strongest suits of this gadget is the display. There’s a 5.5-inch HD model with robust Gorilla Glass 5 and relatively vivid colors. You also get high-quality material construction that features a silver ion antimicrobial substance.

As for the chipset, the smartphone uses a fast Mediatek Helio A20 MT operating at 1.8GHz. The base storage stands at 32GB, whereas the RAM is 3GB. Furthermore, the gadget comes with a waterproof headphone jack, Bluetooth 5, and NFC (near-field communication).

The specs are similar to S61, but S42 H+ is weaker in some aspects. Most notably, the 4200-mAh battery is slightly less durable, and both cameras have fewer megapixels. The front camera is a 5MP model, whereas the rear unit features 13MP.

The second device you may want to consider is the Cat S62 Pro, offering a host of advanced features. There’s a Lepton 3.5 sensor that supports convenient thermal imaging through high-resolution images. In particular, it delivers four times as many thermal pixels as some previous-gen devices.

It’s also worth noting that S62 Pro provides a bevy of tools to facilitate your workplace performance. There’s OfficeSuite that lets you read, create, and edit Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents. Plus, it features a toolbox app with productivity software developed by Cat and several partner companies. They feature many nifty innovations, such as VR learning platforms.

Function of CAT S61

Operating System and Memory

As previously mentioned, CAT S61 supports Android 8.1. The manufacturer has promised to upgrade the operating system to Android Pie, which should add some nifty features to the gadget.

When it comes to memory, S62 boasts 4GB of RAM. The former provides enough speed for everyday use and allows you to open apps reasonably quickly. It even works great for PUBG and other more demanding games.

However, you may experience some sluggishness occasionally. This lower performance can be caused by various bugs and make your phone glitch a couple of times before returning to normal. Most of the issues seem to affect the main camera screen, and they usually occur when switching from video to picture mode. Another problem is the inability to answer your phone because the answer button doesn’t always react to your commands.

The good news is that these issues shouldn’t occur very often, especially in the first couple of months.

Display and Ruggedness

Although rugged phones tend to sacrifice screen quality for ruggedness, that’s not the case with CAT S61. The 5.2-inch display offers a tremendous upgrade over the S60’s solution. It’s nearly half an inch larger, and the full HD technology provides sharper images. You can read the text more easily, and the screen is more pleasing to use overall.

The manufacturer has improved the display temperature, too. There’s no longer the dull, cold look that plagues many rugged devices. The screen is now much warmer, and the brightness is higher.

People who regularly use their phones outdoors will appreciate the glove-on, wet-finger functionality. It enables them to use the gadget in heavy rain or while wearing gloves. This function can expedite workplace productivity and allow professionals to maintain high efficiency in various conditions.

In fact, ruggedness might be the main highlight of CAT S61. The design is all about sturdiness, featuring a thick aluminum frame and an angled protrusion that can take quite a beating.

A polycarbonate lip surrounds the screen to keep it from touching a surface upon accidental drops. There’s a display protector, too, applied over your Gorilla Glass 5.

All these components make S61 incredibly tough. The gadget can withstand six-foot drops on concrete and extreme temperature ranges.

What is more, it’s IP69 rated, meaning you can submerge it in 10 feet of water for about an hour with no damage. The gadget can endure close-range high pressure caused by pelting rain or water jets.

Data Capture and Compatible Software

As for data connectivity and network, the device supports 802.11 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. There’s also 4G, GPS, and an FM radio receiver.

The manufacturer didn’t significantly change the software. The UI and third-party apps help you take advantage of several extra features.

For example, the laser monitor and air quality apps work great most of the time. They’re pre-installed and generally provide accurate measurements.

Review of Design and Aesthetics

The CAT S61 is an easy-to-use, cleverly designed device. It boasts plug covers for all the ports, including the USB-C charging port, microSD, and 3.5-millimeter audio jack.

The front side of the gadget offers three buttons (back, overview, and home) and a left-facing programmable key. You can use this key to launch several apps, such as your laser measurement tool or torch.

Some users may not appreciate the removal of the depth switch. It blocked the speaker of S60 and protected it from nearly 20 feet of water. As a result, water resistance has been reduced, but it should still be enough to accommodate most users.

Camera

The rear camera performs great for a rugged smartphone. It can capture gorgeous photos, and the level of detail is outstanding on closer shots. There are nice effects, and you can blur the background to highlight some parts of your images. The loading time is slightly longer, but the quality more than makes up for it.

The front camera is a standard 8-megapixel model. It takes decent selfies, and the quality is satisfying.

Thermal Camera

One of the biggest selling points of S61 is the improved thermal camera. The temperature range has been expanded, and the resolution has been increased. You can now locate heat sources of up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius) and choose from various color palettes.

For instance, the camera helps you identify heat loss around doors and windows, as well as hot electronics or circuits. It can also “see” through smoke, allowing you to escape from fires by following a route with low temperatures.

Battery Life and Power Options

Under regular use conditions, CAT S61 offers first-class battery life. The 4500-mAh cell performs excellent, whether you use it as a personal or work phone. It can last 24 hours, and you can sometimes go up to two days without charging with this device.

Like all other handsets, the battery life of S61 deteriorates more rapidly if you utilize more demanding features for extended periods. For instance, playing videos with 70% brightness can reduce your battery life by approximately 10%.

Drop Test Summary

CAT verified the ruggedness of S61 through intense drop tests. They showed the device can survive falls of up to 6 feet directly onto concrete. Hence, dropping the gadget onto your office floor or pavement shouldn’t concern you – S61 will come out unscathed.

Here’s a quick video that demonstrates just how durable Cat S61 is.

Compatibility With AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon

The only GSM carrier that supports CAT S61 is T-Mobile. Unfortunately, you can’t use the device with other providers, including AT&T and Verizon.

Customer Reviews

Now let’s take a look at some customer reviews of CAT S61:

“CAT S61 is an excellent phone for daily use. It’s extremely rugged, and the FLIR camera works like a charm. The air monitor is a nice touch since my department regularly uses Acetone and helps us determine if the air quality is poor.”

“The phone has been great so far. I’ve upgraded to S61 from Samsung S7 because I needed a robust phone, and this one seems to be perfect. It’s a large device, but I can still fit it in the pocket of my jeans. I adore the FLIR camera, and there’s no annoying bloatware.”

“The air quality monitor is an eye-opener. I was unaware that my air quality was so low, but S61 helped me realize it. I also like the big battery, lack of bloatware, and the design that’s as durable as a tank. My only issue is that it’s too big for some of my clothes.”

“S61 is an amazing phone. I’ve heard some reviews saying the signal was bad, but I haven’t had any problems so far. The quality is first-class, and the sturdiness is nearly unmatched. I’ve already used the FLIR camera while insulating my attic because the accuracy is consistently high.”

“CAT S61 isn’t an average phone. It’s a unique, fairly expensive device that’s proven invaluable to my profession. While the price is slightly steeper, the enhanced thermal imaging, FLIR camera, laser measurement, and air quality monitor ensured my investment paid off.”

CAT S61 Price

CAT S61 is a relatively expensive smartphone. The price varies, but the official CAT website lists it for $729. The gadget costs more than S62 ($599) and S42 ($439).

Accessories and Protective Cases

CAT S61 comes with many valuable accessories. The list includes an accelerometer, proximity sensor, compass, barometer, quality sensor, and indoor air monitor. In addition, it features a laser-assisted distance measurement tool to make your readings more precise.

The phone doesn’t come with a protective case, but you shouldn’t need it, considering the rugged design.

Talk to an Expert

If you’re a hardcore user or often engage in engineering work, CAT S61 is the perfect device for you. The sturdy construction offers peace of mind in extreme environments, and there’s a slew of features to expedite your operations. You might encounter some performance issues, but they shouldn’t slow you down significantly.

If you have more questions about CAT S61, get in touch with Energy Electronics. We provide expert advice on rugged smartphones, and we can help you find the ideal device for your environment. Our rates for bulk are competitive, so reach out today for your quote.