Cat S62 Pro Review: The Best Looking Thermal Imaging Rugged Smartphone
Bullitt Group, the global licensee for Cat® phones, sent us their Cat S62 Pro smartphone for review. Cat devices are synonymous with rugged smartphones. And here at AndroidHeadlines, we have reviewed a few Cat smartphones in the past. The last was Cat S22 Flip which was a very unique device as far as rugged smartphones go.
There is a fairly sizable market for people who want a rugged smartphone, especially in a harsh working environment. Construction workers, oil riggers, and farmers are some people that could make good use of a smartphone like the Cat S62 Pro. The headline-grabbing feature of this rugged smartphone is a very high-resolution FLIR Lepton 3.5 sensor which coupled with the new MyFLIR™ Pro app allows the Cat S62 Pro to be useful in a lot of different harsh work environments.
While the Cat S62 Pro has been on sale in the USA for quite some time now, we finally got a review device a few weeks back. So let’s get the unboxing done and out of the way so we can test drive the Cat S62 Pro.
Unboxing affair is quite easy and simple. Phone, charging brick, and USB-C cable along with some paperwork. Two things are notable though, the lack of plastic anywhere along with recyclable paper stock in the entire packaging. And the artwork on the box is quite colorful. Of course, full points to the manufacturer for including a charging brick in the box.
Design language is clean and elegant on the Cat S62 Pro
The Cat S62 is probably the most normal-looking rugged smartphone that I have come across in my entire time doing smartphone reviews. That alone is quite an achievement by itself. You will not find any overtly garish-looking curves or angles or screws on this device. It looks like any other regular smartphone but is still capable of exceeding the tough MIL-SPEC 810H protection against dust, shock, water, vibration, and extreme temperatures.
Overall, the Cat S62 Pro feels like a regular smartphone with a case; however, it doesn’t require a case at all. I like the matte grey metal frame and the textured back cover. The antenna lines blend in quite nicely as well. Buttons are clicky and provide good tactile feedback. The power button on the top has quite a bit of texture so you will not confuse it with the volume buttons even in pitch darkness.
The left-hand side rail has the SIM and SD card slot tray and an orange programmable button. On the bottom rail, we have the USB-C port and the speaker grille. The fingerprint scanner is on the back cover in a location that is easy to access. There is also a dual-camera module on the rear, one is the FLIR sensor and the other is the regular 12MP camera. On the front, you get a 5.7” FHD+ display with uniform bezels on top and bottom and thinner side bezels. I do think Cat can do better in terms of either shrinking the bezels or putting in a larger display on this size smartphone.
Overall, the in-hand ergonomics are quite nice and the phone balances well for one-hand use. Buttons are accessible, and the fingerprint sensor is quick and responsive. The haptic motor is strong but quite buzzy and can also be improved in the next iteration.
Display, Performance, and Software are all on point
Cat S62 Pro has a 5.7” FHD+ (1080 x 2160) display. The TFT LCD panel has a fairly reasonable 18:9 aspect ratio. While this is not an AMOLED display, it does get plenty bright outdoors. During my review period, I did not have issues using it on bright sunny days. Of course, since it is an LCD panel, I decided not to use dark mode, and that might have helped a bit with outdoor visibility as well.
The bezels are a bit chunky but thankfully uniform in the X and Y axes. Although I do think this device would be more productive with a larger screen and smaller bezels. From a functionality perspective in a harsh working environment, though, the display supports wet fingers/gloves, so that is indeed a neat feature. There is a factory film screen protector applied on the Gorilla Glass 6 which should help with scratches during everyday use.
Performance is adequate for daily tasks
Performance on the Cat S62 Pro is markedly low mid-tier at least from a Geekbench 5 score perspective. The Snapdragon 660 processor coupled with 6GB RAM, however, keeps things running quite smoothly for daily tasks. You encounter stutters only when trying to play graphics-intensive games. But then again, I am sure that most people aren’t going to purchase this device for gaming purposes. The review unit came with 128GB of storage and you can expand that to 256GB via the SD card slot or use the device in dual-SIM mode.
Stock Android experience
But in dark rooms or at nighttime, the pictures are very noisy to almost non-existent. So as long as you stick with the camera for daytime pictures, you will not be disappointed.
The front-facing selfie camera is an 8MP shooter. It produces good pictures in daylight outdoors and indoors that you can share on social media. Although, for pictures taken indoors with artificial light, it lacks detail if you zoom in slightly.
In a nutshell, if you plan on using the phone during the day on the job, you will be quite happy with the results. But if you are a photo enthusiast, then this device won’t make you happy.
The FLIR Camera is the unique value proposition for this smartphone
The Cat S62 Pro has an integrated thermal or infrared camera which is a unique feature of this device after its normal smartphone hardware design in my opinion. These days, thermal imaging technology is ubiquitous – from scanning arriving passengers at large international airports to checking signs of fever to plumbing and HVAC systems.
Thermal scanning makes it easy to see the temperature differences in various objects (or people) and spot faults in diverse scenarios. The technology is used by a wide range of professionals such as builders, plumbers, electricians, first responders, mechanics, oil riggers farmers, and of course the DIY enthusiast crowd.
For this review, I took a few FLIR camera pictures, followed by the regular main camera. You can see these side by side in the gallery below.
The FLIR camera creates an infrared thermal image – generated by measuring the emitted thermal radiation and converting it into a visible image. What I observed is that allowing the FLIR sensor to stabilize about 2-3 seconds before taking a picture yields the best results. With this technique, you get a picture that shows details including lines and edges in the various scenarios. These details, in turn, should help diagnose thermal issues in work situations.
Battery life is decent on the Cat S62 Pro
There is a 4000mAh lithium-ion battery powering the Cat S62 Pro. While this capacity is slightly less than most modern smartphones, keep in mind that it is only powering a 5.7″ display. So, for the most part, you can still get a full day’s use without much of a hassle.
In my review time, I was able to get around 4-5 hours of screen-on time. Of course, everyone’s use pattern is slightly different and for moderate users, this could mean alternate day charging or just topping up a bit on the go. In either case, you will not have too much of a problem as far as battery life is concerned. Charging time is closer to 90 minutes with the 18W fast charging brick that comes in the box.
Connectivity and Audio Impressions
As soon as I put in my T-Mobile SIM card, the 4G sign was active. The Cat S62 Pro also supports VoLTE and VoWiFi on the T-Mobile network, so that is quite good from a connectivity standpoint. Data speeds were the usual (I have very poor signal) around the house but were better when out and about.
Calls were loud and clear and there were no issues with SMS/MMS and internet. I did not have to manually input or change any APN settings. Connecting wireless earbuds via Bluetooth 5 was hassle-free as well. And NFC connectivity, which meant contactless payments – which are finally becoming quite ubiquitous in the USA – posed no problems.
The audio quality is okay considering there is only one downward-firing speaker. It does get loud in speakerphone mode or while playing music. But the overall quality isn’t class-leading and I am not sure why the top earpiece is not doing double duty as a stereo speaker setup.
While speaker audio output is average, the audio quality is excellent via the USB-C port (I do have a Google Pixel dongle) and the same is true for wireless earbuds (Pamu Nano in this case).
In summary, there isn’t anything outstanding – 5G or stereo speakers – but the basics are covered well in terms of connectivity and audio options on the Cat S62 Pro.
So should you buy the Cat S62 Pro?
For folks who want a no-frills rugged device that just works, the Cat S62 Pro is easy to recommend. Also for people who require infrared thermal scanning on the job, like oil drilling, chemical plants, and oil refineries, this device is a no-brainer.
The Cat S62 Pro also has good Android Enterprise support along with EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management). This makes it a top contender for IT departments at companies that have a lot of workers needing rugged smartphones.
For the casual user, though, you might want to consider getting a Pixel 6 and putting a sturdy rugged case on it for roughly the same price and overall a vastly superior smartphone experience.