On test: Tough Cat S41 smartphone

Excavation specialist Cat offers a range of five smartphones, all built by the Reading-based Bullitt Group that licenses the Cat name along with a stack of other popular brands, including Land Rover.

Comparing the firm’s S41 to the ever-popular iPhone 7, it is almost twice as thick and dwarfs the Apple device when face to face, which means it’s a real stretch for any operator’s thumb to reach the app located in the top corner.

At 218g, it’s also a good bit heavier than the iPhone, which tips the scales at a feather-like 138g.

Sturdy construction

Having said that, it does feel well made. Access to headphone and charging ports are covered by solid plugs to stop dirt getting in and the three buttons on the front are logically organised, although the omission of a touchscreen back button is slightly frustrating.

On our test phone, none of the raised buttons gained access to the phone – this is only achieved via the lock button on the side – which should avoid accidental phone calls when talking about the boss’ drilling.

Eyes are drawn to a bright, copper-coloured button on the left-hand side of the phone. A brief glance at the instructions revealed it can have two functions that are easily assigned and changed in the settings area of the phone.

We set a flashlight to come on after a two-second hold, which was ideal when crawling around in the darkness under a machine and much easier than swiping up for a torch as on the iPhone.

Cat S41

  • Operating system: Android 7
  • Display: 5-inch, 1280 x 1080
  • Memory: 32GB
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • SIM type: Dual nano
  • Processor: 2.3GHz
  • Weight: 218g
  • Waterproof: 2m
  • Drop proof: 1.8m
  • Price: £399

See also: 7 budget GPS guidance systems on test

Charging help

Thanks to the monster 5,000mAh battery – iPhone 7 has 1,960mAh and Samsung Galaxy 8 offers 3,000mAh – the S41 can sit on standby for an impressive 44 days, but that’s not the only ace up its XL-sized sleeve, we’re told.

If you’re miles away from any kind of charging point and a colleague is running dangerously low on battery, providing you’ve remembered the lead and the S41 is over 20% charged, you can very quickly give them some extra power.

There are slow and fast charging speeds, with the latter rendering the Cat phone useless while it transfers the juice.

We tried this out with a Samsung Galaxy A3, which started on 53% charge; after just 52 minutes the Galaxy had jumped up to 97% charged with the S41 still having 48% left.

Android 7 OS

As with other Cat phones, the option to insert two sims at the same time for increased phone coverage is still available and the phone runs a fairly bog-standard Android 7 operating system.

It’s drop-proof from 1.8m and waterproof for one hour up to 2m deep. There’s no fingerprint access, but there is still an audio jack port for plugging in headphones, which is refreshing for a phone aimed at the outdoor type.

Surprisingly, the phone also has a reasonable-sounding £399 price-tag, which includes free delivery and a two-year warranty. It’s also £200 cheaper than the S60 we tested a few years ago.