Product Review: Cat S40 Phone

I was recently sent the Cat S40 phone for review. Nice of the gang to let me look and play, but now I have to send it back. Bittersweet; I no longer will be carrying two phones around but my new favorite is going away.

Spoiler alert: I like the phone but not for the reasons you might suspect. Read on hearty followers and let’s get to the details.

The Cat S40 is an Android based phone that is tested to IP68 spec. That means a 1.8 meter drop and waterproof to one meter for 60 minutes, provided the covers are properly in place. It is dust proof and has a Gorilla Glass 4 surface that as far as I can tell, negates the need for a screen cover.

I own an iPhone and have had good luck with the OS and available apps. The biggest complaint with the Android platform at the beginning was the lack of apps available for business functionality. Those days are behind us and truth be told, many apps appear on Android devices before the Apple release. This is due (good or bad) to Apple’s app vetting process to ensure safety and compatibility. I had no issues loading the necessary apps for conducting business with the device; they all ran as expected without issues.

In addition to the above mentioned features, I need to let you know about a few more that are equally impressive;
• The camera is an 8 megapixel like the iPhone, quality is similar.
• Glove mode increases the screen sensitivity so you can actually use the device with gloves. I had success doing most tasks with good fitting work gloves. Larger ranch hand cowhide gloves might get clunky. Without gloves, the increased sensitivity may cause a tap to register before your finger touches the screen. No problem, shut off glove mode and back to normal. The "swipe" method of typing takes a little time to get used to but once mastered is quick and efficient.
• The daylight readable screen is a fact. Living in Arizona I had the chance to run the unit in some sunny days. Works well, much brighter than my iPhone 6.
• Battery life is impressive. Stated life is 18 hours of talk and 39 days of standby with the 3000 mAh Lithium Ion battery. I had similar results during my mixed use testing. Charging is quick and I stayed close to full just by plugging the phone into my truck outlet doing windshield time between job sites.
• Notification options; job sites are noisy and many an important call have been missed as your phone rings while a 657 Scraper drones past. The phone has a vibrate mode that works for key presses as well as calls, emails and text messages. It is more robust than the iPhone, a nod to the detail in the design of the unit.

With all these advantages listed, I have still not gotten to the best one; size.

The Cat S40 as it comes looks like it has a quality case installed. The fact is what looks like a case is actually the phone itself. Get this; the phone comes out of the box shock, dust and water proof without the need for any additional protection. That’s cool. As a comparison, here are some statistics;
• The Cat S40 is 12.5mm (1/2 inch) thick.
• To make any other type of mobile device waterproof a case is needed.
• A waterproof and shockproof case for an iPhone increases the thickness of the unit; this only provides marginal water protection and no guarantees of life after a drop.

Most of us only have ONE phone. When I’m on a job site, I have no problem with a protective case on my iPhone so I don’t have to test the kindness of my phone insurance carrier. When I go out in the evening and don’t want to look like I have a boom box strapped to my waist I have to take the phone case apart and carry the phone in my pocket. This takes time and also reduces the life of the case.

With the manageable size of the Cat phone, I found myself rinsing the dirt off, letting it drip dry while I rinsed the dirt off me. Pretty soon we are both ready to go, the phone fits easily in a jeans back pocket or a belt clip. To me that is the best thing about the S40.

So there you have it. I’m glad I can depend on the S40 to shed work site hazards and improve my efficiency. I was alerted to all incoming communications, took better job site images for documentation and able to read my screen in bright conditions. I could do this longer due to increased battery life and negate the need for transforming my work site phone into my after-hours communication device.

List price for the unit is $399.99, other models are available