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Tough smartphone reviews

A rugged Android phone for the field  February 4, 2016 – 12:51 pm
UMI Hammer review: A cheap but

If we were still looking for evidence that smartphones have officially become a commodity, the line of ruggedized devices from iconic heavy equipment maker Caterpillar might just be that proof. We reviewed the Cat S40 Android phone to see if it offers a unique take on a rough and tough device or if it's just another phone with an unlikely brand name slapped on the back.

Caterpillar is a name that's synonymous with construction, big projects and big gear, so it's not surprising that the major selling points of the S40 include its ability to stand up to the kind of conditions you might encounter on the field or the job site. This medium-sized phone is rated to be water, dust and drop-proof with a 4.7-inch Gorilla Glass 4 display designed to work with gloved or wet fingers.

It's rated IP68, which means it should stand up to high-pressure jets of water and to accidental submersion. Bullitt Group, which manufactures the S40 for Caterpillar, goes a bit further to claim that it will resist submersion for a full hour in up to a meter of water. It is also rated to withstand drops from up to 6 feet (1.8 meters). It also fulfills the military standard for being resistant to salt, dust, humidity, vibration, shocks and solar radiation.

We had to keep our review unit in working order so we weren't able to really torture it, but it did stand up just fine to some moderately rough drops, serious splashes, submersions and attempts to scratch the screen. We also made sure to hand it over to a few kids for a while to really put it to the test, and it came away in one piece from those encounters.

Like many other affordable ruggedized phones, including Kyocera models like the Brigadier, the S40 seems to trade power and performance for toughness. Its Snapdragon 210 processor, 1 GB of RAM and 540 x 960 display don't exactly impress and can get bogged down by more memory-hungry apps.

So if you're a power smartphone user looking to push a phone to its limits through gaming, serious multitasking or as a heavy media consumption device, you can probably stop here and look elsewhere, but if you're still intrigued by a phone you can take anywhere to keep in touch, let's consider what else we like about this phone.

First there's the bright screen that's designed to work well even in direct sunlight outdoors. We found it workable even on bright days here in the high desert from most angles.

Source: newatlas.com

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