Business

Cat S61 hands-on: the multitool smartphone

Smartphones have revolutionized software, but when they need to interact with the real world, they usually rely on external accessories. The Cat S61 is unique in that it’s a venerable toolbox that can be used in a variety of professions. Going in, we had no idea just how many uses this phone has.


The Cat S61 is the toughest, most-capable phone - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

The Cat S61 is the toughest, most-capable phone

The thermal camera is the key draw. It can be used by handymen working on the insulation on your house or for checking for hidden leaks. Or it could be used by vets, e.g. it can be used to spot the extra heat of an infected area or the lack of heat due to poor blood circulation. Here’s a list of 60 uses for thermal imaging.


The thermal camera sees what the naked eye can't - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
The thermal camera sees what the naked eye can't - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
The thermal camera sees what the naked eye can't - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

The thermal camera sees what the naked eye can’t

The S61 has an improved thermal camera – again by FLIR – that can read temps from -20C to 400C and show a higher resolution image than its predecessor (from SD to HD). The camera app can even livestream the image, if you need to consult with a colleague.


Thermal camera aside, there's 16MP/4K regular camera on the back and an 8MP selfie cam - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
Thermal camera aside, there's 16MP/4K regular camera on the back and an 8MP selfie cam - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
Thermal camera aside, there's 16MP/4K regular camera on the back and an 8MP selfie cam - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

Thermal camera aside, there’s 16MP/4K regular camera on the back and an 8MP selfie cam

An interior designer will prefer to use the phone’s other tool – the laser-assisted measurement tool. What you do is snap a photo and you can accurately measure distances up to 10m and calculate area.

You don’t need to do this on location, all relevant info is saved so you can go back and do extra measurements. This will be invaluable when planning out furniture placement or even just calculating the length of cables you need to run.


This is a serious tool - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
Measuring distance - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
Calculating area - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

This is a serious tool Measuring distance Calculating area

Working with some common things like paint, glue or a cleaning product can lead to a dangerous build up of pollutants in the air (VOCs). With the Cat S61, you can stay safe by constantly monitoring the air in the room and the phone will alert you if the it becomes dangerous.


Monitoring air quality: there's an app for that - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

Monitoring air quality: there’s an app for that

Some people bring along a “work phone”, a cheap phone they don’t mind damaging if they drop it at the work site. The S61 lives up to IP68 and MIL-STD-810G standards and has an extra-wide operating temperature range – from -30C to 65C.

Cat built the phone out of reinforced die-cast aluminum frame and so it can survive drops on concrete from 1.8m heights. And it can survive being submerged under 3m of water for an hour.

The device is a survivor and is built for workplace operation. The 5.2″ screen doesn’t mind if you wear gloves or if your fingers are wet. And it has been optimized for outdoor visibility. In the rare cases when the touchscreen fails you, you can use the grippy orange button on the side – its function is programmable (both short and long presses).


The yellow key is user-programmable - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
Grippy power key on the other side - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

The yellow key is user-programmable Grippy power key on the other side

If you’re not afraid of long working hours, neither is the S61. It has a large 4,500mAh battery that can be filled up quickly thanks to QuickCharge 4.0 (via the USB-C port).


A sealed USB-C port - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
3.5mm audio jack - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
3.5mm audio jack - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

A sealed USB-C port 3.5mm audio jack

The Cat S61 will launch with Android Oreo and the company promised to deliver an Android P update. The Snapdragon 630 chipset is more than fast enough to run daily tasks – you probably won’t spend too much time playing games on a work phone, right?


Android Oreo at launch - Cat S61 hands-on reivew
There's 64GB of built-in storage plus a microSD slot - Cat S61 hands-on reivew

Android Oreo at launch There’s 64GB of built-in storage plus a microSD slot

It will be available globally in Q2 at a price of 900/800. Not cheap, but have you checked the price of a thermal camera? Or of a laser distance measurer? Or the air sensor? Not to mention the added benefit of having all that packed into one rugged package.