Hands-on With Batman’s – Or Bob The Builder’s – Phone

Witchdoctor Rating
  • 9/10
    - 9/10
9/10

Summary

CAT S60

$1099

If Bob the Builder owned a smartphone, there’s a good chance that it’d be the CAT S60, says PAT PILCHER.

Recently, while getting renovations done at my home, I noticed a curious trend. All the tradespeople working on our place had dinged up smartphones with busted screens. A building site can be a rough and tumble place that is especially hard on smartphones. This isn’t likely to ever be an issue with Cat S60. It’s built like a brick shit-house and should withstand a thermo-nuclear war.

When I say it’s that rugged, I’m not kidding. If Bob the builder was to drop the S60 while up a ladder I’d wager that it’d bounce – leaving a small crater – and then come back for more.

There are, of course, limits to the S60’s toughness. It might be the phone equivalent of a Chieftain tank but it still won’t survive being run over by a car. It does, however, brush off accidental drops that’d otherwise leave you with a hefty repair bill. CAT says the S60 is drop-proof from heights up to 1.8m. It can also take a dunking, thanks to its IP68 rating. This means it’ll survive in water of depths of up to 5m – just remember to flick the small switch on the phone’s front to seal its speaker grille if going more than two metres deep.

The S60’s toughness is due to both a shock-proof design and the fact that it is hewn out of a mixture of a carbon composite and alloy. Its side-facing ports are covered with flaps, and its front sports a raised bezel to protect the screen. There are also physical buttons, which makes loads of sense if you’re working outdoors and wearing gloves. All told, the S60 looks like the sort of smartphone Batman would own.

Caped crusaders aside, some may find its design a little off-putting. At 12.7mm thick, it’s a bit of a chunky monkey. In practice, it is about as thick as two smartphones atop of each other. Despite its Rubenesque proportions, curved edges and a grippy back make it comfy to hold.

While most ruggedised phones tout toughness as their killer feature, the S60 has plenty of other bells and whistles. One feature tradies may find useful is a custom SOS button. Worksites can be dangerous places, so having a button that can be customised to call emergency services and send out location alerts as text messages could prove incredibly handy.

Another nifty but unexpected feature baked into the S60 is its thermal imaging-capable camera. This might seem like an odd feature to build into a phone aimed at tradies, but it can help builders find cold spots around joinery which are ideal for testing insulation and heat leaks. In use, it’s almost like having predator vision straight out of the movies.

The S60 is also media friendly. A microSD port lets you add an additional 256GB of storage to the 32GB already built in, so adding music isn’t a chore, and there’s also the support for wired headphones via a 3.5mm headphone socket.

If that wasn’t enough, the S60 also has an App store aimed at tradespeople and outdoors types. Although the app store doesn’t have vast numbers of apps, what is there will appeal to builders, plumbers and so on.

Its 4.7-inch display sports 720p resolution and the use of Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle (AHVA) screen tech makes for a slightly washed out look, even if it is perfectly viewable under direct sunlight. The screen might look a bit washed out, but its viewing angles are excellent.

The S60 is no shrinking violet, and its larger than life dimensions and rugged design make it the ideal workhorse for tradespeople and outdoorsy types whose professions are too much for ordinary smartphones. While it might be chunky, the features baked in are sure to appeal to its intended audience.

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