Caterpillar, the same people behind forklifts and other big machines that you have to wear helmets on, do Android devices for a very specific set of users in the field. Their latest device, the Cat S42 H +, is fascinating because you can run it under water and wash it in the sink at the same time as your hands.
The Cat S42 H + takes its name from the “Hygiene Plus” technology used outdoors. Chat in partnership with Addmaster to use its antimicrobial casing on the device, and the claim is that it inhibits any bacterial cells that have settled there of replication.
The chassis is sealed, so you can run the phone under a tap to clean it with your favorite dish soap. For extremely tough cleaning jobs, it can even resist bleach.
The other specifications of the phone are disappointing. There’s a 5.5-inch screen with 720p resolution, an underpowered MediaTek processor, and 3GB of RAM inside, plus it comes with the quickly aging Android 10. Those who wear gloves most of the work day will like the shortcut button on the side which is programmable for push-to-talk functionality or a quick SOS call, plus the 4200 MAh battery. The phone costs around $ 300 and will debut in the US later this summer.
I’ll level you up here: These Cat smartphones built to withstand tough industrial jobs aren’t usually on my radar as they’re more of a niche. But Cat continues to release rugged phones, and they’re not the only manufacturer still carrying the torch for this category of phones. Samsung stopped making beefed-up versions of its flagship Galaxy S phones a while ago, though it does offer the Galaxy XCover Pro. And Kyocera always does rugged smartphones for verizon, with the latest device offering 5G connectivity.
Rugged Android phones are floating around in more places than you might think. A report in the global rugged smartphone market showed that North America and Europe accounted for about 30% of rugged phone sales in 2019. The report mentions brands like DOOGEE and OUKITEL, both of which sell rugged budget smartphones overseas. There is also Blackview, which recently launched a global 5G rugged smartphone with an underwater camera and a massive 8580 MAh battery.
You could always buy a hardcore Otterbox case or another equivalent to protect your smartphone from the elements of your daily work. But there are other benefits with rugged phones that you won’t get just by putting your current breakable glass slab in a case. You won’t always get the latest hardware in a rugged smartphone, but you will get unparalleled water and shock resistance and at least one additional programmable button. Most rugged phones are also dual-SIM devices or offer replaceable batteries, a feature hard to find on any smartphone made in the past seven years. Cat even offers some models with integrated FLIR infrared camera for augmented reality thermal imaging.
Rugged smartphone sales dived slightly during the pandemic, but it is to be expected how related industries have been affected. It will be interesting to see if there is an increase after more of the population is vaccinated, and the need for sterile gadgets at work is a necessity rather than a suggestion.
For Cat, meanwhile, intends to use the S42 H + antimicrobial in hospitals, medical facilities and “anyone who is constantly exposed to other people.” With that kind of description, maybe we should all carry rugged phones at all times.