CAT S42: Cheaper than the predecessor, but is it better?
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For a long time, the rugged smartphones were sold by a few manufacturers. Bullitt Group, as the licensed manufacturer of Caterpillar smartphones, did very well in this particular niche market. In the meantime, the competition from China, but also Samsung and German-based Gigaset joined the fray.
This is why CAT Phones made some adjustments in the pricing and offers the CAT S42 at a significantly lower price than its predecessor: The CAT S41 had an MSRP of about 500 Euros ($590) two years ago when it launched. The successor model retails for half as much.
This is a more appropriate price point for such a device: No one will pay 500 Euros ($590) for a smartphone with thick bezels and a single camera in 2020. The CAT S42 offers a few special features: A rubberised and washable surface, a very rigid case, much faster Wi-Fi than the predecessor and a remappable button on the left side.
Unfortunately, the hardware navigation buttons had to go. They were very useful when your hands were wet or you had your clunky gloves on. There is no biometric authentication, meaning that you cannot unlock the device via face recognition or fingerprint scanning. The outdated security patches are a more serous issues. The Android 10 smartphone needs to get a security update.
The camera is good enough for snap shots. However, you should not expect more from it. You should also curb your expectations when it comes to system performance, because the CAT S42 offers a very low level of performance. Somewhat demanding games can be played on the lowest settings and even the overlays, such as the volume overlay, become unresponsive in demanding applications.
The CAT S42 is still an okay rugged smartphone and with the new price tag it is rather well-positioned. A further advantage is the fact that the manufacturer claims that the smartphone can be disinfected with bleach or alcohol.
If you would like to learn more about the CAT S42 and are interested in our final thoughts on the CAT smartphone, then you should read our extensive review of the rugged smartphone.