You know the name Caterpillar, a brand of tractors and other heavy equipment more than 100 years old. But they’ve also licensed their name and logo to a line of rugged smartphones, one of the latest and least expensive of which is the CAT S31.
So what’s a rugged smartphone like the CAT S31? It’s an Android phone, running Nougat 7.1, with 2 GB of operating RAM, 16 GB of memory, a 4.7-inch Gorilla Glass screen with an HD display, an 8-megapixel front camera and a 2 MP selfie-camera, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, capacity for dual SIM cards plus a 128 GB microSD card, and a standard 3.5mm audio jack. It comes with a 4000mAh battery that allows up to 30 hours of talk time. But that’s not what makes it rugged.
The whole phone is in a rubberized case, sealed against dust and water to the IP68 standard, and it also claims to meet the military standard MIL-SPEC-810G. These specs mean the phone can survive at least 30 minutes in about 4 feet of water, as well as a drop from about 6 feet. All the various ports are sealed, and the buttons coming through the case are large and easily felt through gloves. In addition to on/off and volume, there’s a programmable button with both a long & short press, so without having to touch the screen you could program the button to answer calls, or open email, or turn on the camera, etc., your choices.
The CAT S31 case, by the way, isn’t easily removable as it’s really part of the phone. And both the sides and the back have ridges – for lack of a better term – to make it much less likely to slip out of your hand.
Aside from the larger than usual battery and the ruggedness of the phone, there’s nothing unusual about the CAT S31; it’s a fully functional Android phone. So who might want or need it? Obviously, it would be safe to take to work for those in construction or other trades. If you’re the outdoorsy type who hikes or bikes or rock climbs, having a rugged phone might be a good idea. And with its larger buttons and drop-proof case, the CAT S31 might be good for someone whose manual dexterity has deteriorated with age or infirmity.
As I mentioned, the CAT S31 is the least expensive of their rugged smartphone line, currently $329.99 direct and also sold on Amazon. Their other models, the recent CAT S41 for instance, has a slightly larger screen, longer lasting battery, better camera, etc., for $449.99 direct. And the CAT S60 includes thermal imaging and can last up to an hour in 16 feet of water, among other things, at $629.99. More features are promised on the CAT S61 model, not yet available for sale.
Here’s the CAT S31 promo video: