- Shock resistance
- Water and dust resistance
- Lightness and design to be ruggedized
- Photographic quality
- Screen resolution
- Large frames around the screen
The ruggedized smartphone market, those rubberized, shock-resistant, water-resistant mobiles. And dust dirt work situations everywhere is a relatively contained niche.
Caterpillar has been launching terminals for that sector for several years. But, if there is something they want to change with the CAT S52.
It is the idea that a rugged mobile phone is “a brick,” something familiar in this segment, with smartphones that weigh a lot and are significant.
This polished mobile has to offer the user a smartphone with a more traditional design. I am adding a notable improvement in the primary camera compared to what is usual in this mobile segment.
Summary of the CAT S52 analysis:
- Design: Rugged with traditional smartphone skin
- Screen: Critical point, just resolution for this screen size
- Performance: Below what expected in 2020
- Software: Android 9 is pretty clean, with little bloatware
- Camera: Surely the best rear camera of a ruggedized smartphone
- Autonomy: 3,100 mAh given to spend the day
- Connectivity and audio: complete connectivity and sound in the media
- Conclusions: CAT S52 marks the way forward for resistant mobiles
- Ruggedized with traditional smartphone skin
The CAT S52 is a mobile that intends to approach the vast bulk of users who do not need to have a resistant device 100% of the time.
But on certain occasions, that protection can save them from some scare.
That is why this model arrives as a model with a more careful design. A thickness of 9.68 mm if we compare it with traditional mobiles.
It is thick, and within the ruggedized smartphone, it is entirely contained.
This mobile problem has more to be used on a day-to-day basis in the weight since.
However, for many diets that have passed, it still weighs 210 grams, well above traditional mobiles.
It is built in an aluminum body with a rubberized back shell and a rough bottom. The fingerprint reader-centered at the top and the rear camera on the left is very pleasant to the touch.
If you talk about the front, it is entirely covered by a Gorilla Glass 6 glass. And large frames are visible both at the top and bottom, while the sides are somewhat tighter.
In the unibody body, we see the power and volume buttons on the right side. And on the left is the lid that hides the dual SIM tray and the microSD card slot.
This mobile is IP68 and, therefore, waterproof, so be careful with that cover; it has to close tightly to maintain tightness. The 3.5mm minijack connector is located on the upper side of the mobile.
According to CAT, this ruggedized smartphone endures water immersion up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes without a problem.
Working in high humidity environments or with a high degree of dust and vibrations also survives drops on the cement of up to 1.5 m.
It is a ruggedized smartphone that meets the MIL810G tests and, for the first time, does not seem to be a mobile surrounded by a bumper of those that protected the TV remote controls years ago.
It is mobile between two lands, the ruggedized world, and a traditional mobile. It is not transferable for the vast bulk of users, but undoubtedly many users will be able to use single mobile for their life and work.
Display with a just resolution for that diagonal size
If there is something that brands have to go through designing a new device, it is because of commitments to be able to offer a device with an adjusted price in the market.
In this case, the big cut is seen on the screen since we discussed a display with a resolution of two years ago HD + in most terminals, not to mention the Xiaomi Mi A3, although that, yes, with a level of brightness updated.
It is a screen with an IPS panel, panoramic in 18: 9 format, and a resolution of 1,440 x 720 px in a diagonal size of 5.65 inches, which gives a pixel density of 284ppp.
In terms of sufficient resolution, this screen lags behind most traditional mobiles.
However, as you may have already noticed, we are facing a hybrid device between a smartphone and a ruggedized mobile.
This screen is square, with no rounded edges, and surrounded by lateral margins of about 3 millimeters and upper and lower margins of more than 1 cm, which hits seeing the current all-screen design lines.
That makes room internally for supposed shock-absorbing systems, but it is far behind what we saw in 2019.
This mobile phone does not have HDR support nor HBM mode for outdoors, so the maximum brightness of the slider is the maximum that it offers the user, with some peaks around 550 lux and a somewhat lower average.
Nevertheless, it is a sufficient brightness to be used outdoors without significant problems.
In terms of the screen, this mobile is quite humble, it is not a screen to shoot rockets, but it is not a bad screen.
It has a proper color calibration, a maximum dignified brightness, and, yes, a somewhat low resolution for the times.
CAT S52 Performance below expectations in 2020
In the field of resistant mobiles, performance is not usually one of the areas with the most considerable focus.
And this CAT S52 is a clear example of this since it mounts a relatively humble chip, Mediatek Helio P35, that achieves slightly higher performance than a modest Snapdragon 450 and in the line of Snapdragon 630.
As we see, it moves in figures that would place it at the bottom of the table. It is enough for day-to-day.
But playing both demanding titles and efficiently managing several heavy applications in multitasking is not a task with which this mobile is comfortable.
Moreover, it is considered in-game loading times and low fps rates.
I did not think anyone bet at the end of 2019 for a chip that saw the light two years ago, on January 12, 2018, and already at that time, it reached the mid-range directly.
But they have to save costs at some points to improve others and maintain a fair price.
The 4 GB of RAM seems to help once the apps start, but if someone acquires this mobile, it must be clear that it is not a smartphone with top performance; in fact, it is in what we could call the 2020 input range.
Android 9 is relatively clean, with little bloatware
Here we come to a fascinating point, and although CAT has accustomed us to reasonably clean software to date on their mobiles, we found some applications pre-installed as tools in what we expected to be mobile work
Depending on the model, we found specific apps such as FLIR Camera on the CAT S61.
However, this mobile comes with little pre-installed and an application that works as a small repository of tools (compass, conversion of measures, etc.).
We also found an application to, at least in theory, improve the user experience and a link to support, which refers to the manufacturer’s website.
Virtually all third-party apps can be uninstalled manually if the user wants.
The factory version is Android 9, just one step behind the latest version of the market that, for now, only has Google’s Pixel phones, some Huawei, Xiaomi, and Sony, among others.
Nevertheless, the feeling when using the mobile and the transitions between menus are reasonable; it works smoothly and is appreciated.
Something that we have commented on before is that CAT has not achieved the Widevine L1 certification, which guarantees the security of the integrity of digital content (copy software).
For example, on Netflix, content can be viewed at a resolution beyond SD.
CAT has promised an update to Android 10. However, during our tests, it was not available.
So we can not judge whether this new version would improve performance somewhat or solve the behavior of streaming videos.
Undoubtedly the best camera on a ruggedized smartphone.
If there is something that most resistant smartphones sin, it is in the camera section. Most mount functional cameras that achieved theoretical results, and CAT wanted to take a step forward in this field.
And shows in the results as they are on par with what could be made with mobiles such as Google’s Pixel 2 / Pixel 3.
Mount a 12 Mpx Sony sensor with Dual Pixel focus system and f / 1.8 aperture. It allows the recording of videos 1080p 30 fps with electronic stabilization.
And the results it achieves are less surprising for such a mobile.
The portrait mode works very well, with natural cuts and a blur separating the subject photographed from the back. It is not a progressive blur as in top smartphones.
But, without a doubt, working with a single sensor achieves better results than other mobiles with several sensors.
It is not a top photographic mobile, but it does more than enough. And is something that many users of this type of device were missing.
So it is another point for a user not to carry two mobiles on top and can live their day-to-day with the CAT S52.
Fair autonomy to reach the end of the day
CAT had a lot of work on the autonomy section with batteries up to 4,500 mph in the CAT S61 or 4,000 mAh in the CAT S41.
However, the change in the design of this CAT S52 has made them take a couple of steps back. As for the battery capacity of this CAT S52, it stays at 3,100 mAh.
On paper, it already seems somewhat short. However, we wanted to give a vote of confidence to it before prejudging since both SoC and screen resolution could play in their favor.
However, we realized our initial intuition was correct after our tests.
It is a mobile that arrives at the end of the day with regular use, forcing you to charge it yes or yes every night. As you heavily use it, you may have to go through an outlet before.
To get an idea about the mobile, it manages to spend 6 hours of the screen (100% brightness) in the PCMark test. Away from 9 – 10h that get mobiles with 4,000 mAh.
The charging speed should be faster than what we get in our tests. Since the 18W Pump Express charger should charge this 3,100 mAh battery in about 1 hour and a half.
However, during our two weeks of testing. The charge has been around 2 hours and 30 minutes, so conclude.
We would have liked that, given the thickness of the mobile. Remember 9.69mm, and they would have integrated a somewhat larger battery.
In this way, the mobile would win integers in and out of the professional segment.
Since a mobile that endures two days of use with that camera performance and with water and shock resistance would be a significant claim.
Full connectivity and average audio
Shock resistance, water, dust, and connectivity seem incompatible concepts, but nothing is further from reality with this CAT S52. Instead, it is a mobile that offers an extensive compendium of technologies and connectivity options.
To begin, we will comment that it integrates a 3.5 mm minijack connector with which you can connect hands-free or headphones.
Which in turn acts as an antenna to receive FM radio stations from a native application installed.