If there is a group that is notoriously hard on their cellphones, it would be contractors.  Working in dangerous, dusty and wet places, cell phones sometimes don’t last a week on the job. That’s going to change though, with this line of work-tested CAT cellphones.

Caterpillar has long been famous for their line of rugged construction products, so I was anxious to see how they would approach a smartphone. I had the opportunity to test one out after CES2018 and I’ve been favorably impressed.   The CAT S41 is one tough phone with some great specs:

  • Mil-Spec to IP68 makes them drop-proof, dust-proof and shockproof. Repeated drop tests from 1.8 meters resulted in no damage to phone or screen.
  • Waterproof to 2 meters, you can shoot photos and video underwater for up to an hour.
  • Corning Gorilla Glass screens work with ‘gloves on’ capability and will also work with wet fingers.
  • The ultra-bright screen is easy to read in the sunlight.
  • The audio volume is louder than most, enabling you to hear on a noisy construction site.
  • The oversized battery enables you to go for days without recharging.

Those are some of the highlights, but there’s much more you’ll enjoy if you are a trade’s person. Instead of bloating your phone with all sorts of apps you might not want, they’ve simply included links to some of the most useful apps for contractors. You choose which ones you want to install. I particularly like the math calculator for working with feet, inches and yards.  You can even set your limits in fractions to whatever you are comfortable working with 1/8”, 1/16”, 1/32”, etc.

If you use your phone for listening to podcasts or music, you’ll love the capability of expanding its memory with up to a 128GB micro-SD card.  That’s enough to listen to for weeks.

Another excellent feature is the Multi-Function Programmable Key – an easily discernible copper-color key on the left side of the phone.  There’s a raft of options for this key, from Press to Talk, to bringing up the flashlight (which I used) to loading Google, or any of your calculators.  It can actually do two of the above.  Program one to come up on a short press or another to come up on a long press.  That’s really convenient.

The S41 also has OTG capabilities, meaning you can use your 5,100 mAh battery to charge someone else’s phone if need be.  The other capability OTG offers is enabling you to read plans, music or whatever you choose from a separate flash drive.

The camera in the S41 shoots 13 MP images from the rear and 8 MP from the front, certainly providing plenty of resolution for documentation of any job site issues. The only thing missing that I can see from the standard camera app is an easily adjustable exposure compensation mode.  In these two photos, you’ll notice that copying a resolution chart from my computer screen, the iPhone6 does a better job of recognizing the white background and adjusting for it than the S41.  While the resolution is better on the S41, it would have been nice to be able to increase exposure slightly to make the background white instead of 18% grey. Downloading an additional free camera app would take care of that problem. Video is also nice and crisp, shooting in 1920 x 1080 format.

For even more specs, see below.  For a retail price of $449.99, this phone seems to have so much to offer, it’s a no-brainer for anyone who is hard on their phone, and it comes with a full one-year warranty.  Check out the contractor’s best friend here.


Disclosure:  We were provided a S41 by Caterpillar so we could do this review.  No compensation was received and opinions are always our own. 


Also published on Medium.