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The CAT S42 Will Survive Judgement Day, But Its Battery Won’t Survive a Weekday

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CAT S42 in front of a CAT backhoe
Rating:
4/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $300

Michael Crider

I love a tough phone. And I love a cheap phone: There need to be a lot more of both around. The CAT S42 is a tough, cheap phone. On paper it’s something I should really dig … and no, you don’t have to pardon the pun. This thing was made from the ground up to slide comfortably into both a work site and an expense report.

Here’s What We Like

  • Inexpensive
  • Unbelievably tough
  • Glove mode is cool

And What We Don’t

  • Terrible battery life, no fast charge
  • Bad software performance
  • No fingerprint reader

Unfortunately, the S42 leans too much on the “cheap” part of that see-saw. Its extremely poor performance, bad battery life, and a few annoying design choices mean it falls well below the mark of even adequate reliability. I can’t fault CAT for the phone’s tough-as-nails design and build, which is truly remarkable. But the bottom line is that this isn’t a phone you’d want to actually use, no matter how tough it is.

Spend your money on a quality budget phone, like the Pixel 4a or the iPhone SE, and get an Otterbox case for it. You’ll have a much better time than trying to work around the CAT S42’s shortcomings.

Table of Contents

I’ve spoken on these handy buttons before, and I wish more phones had them, so I could quickly activate a flashlight or start and stop music without looking at the screen. The S42’s extra button can do this, through a dedicated section of the Settings menu. By default, you can assign it to the flashlight, answer/hang up, open notifications, or the recent apps button, or launch an app of your choosing. You can do that with either a double-tap or a long-press, and both programming options are available at once.

Oddly, there’s no option to assign media functions, nor is there a way to give a single button press a function. I worked around this with one of my favorite third-party tools, but I shouldn’t have to. The lack of single-press setting might be put down to sensitivity—can’t have it activate in a jean pocket, perhaps?

CAT S42 with gloves
The glove mode makes the phone usable with gloves, or anything else. Michael Crider

The tough build has one more trick up its sleeve: The screen can work when wet and when wearing gloves. The water detection seems to be an always-on function, but glove detection merely detects all touches, not just capacitive (skin) contact. It seems to work pretty well! Water will still affect detection quality, but the glove mode (which you have to activate via the settings) means you can use it even when your hands are all wrapped up.

It’s just a shame that the screen is so dim. Despite the fact that it’s an LCD, it was harder to read in direct sunlight than a quality AMOLED. That’s one for the con column if you’re planning on using it outside most of the time.

outdated MicroUSB port. The S42 doesn’t appear to have any kind of rapid charging capability, so once the battery’s drained, it’s going to have to sit on a charging cable for hours in order to get back to full. This isn’t the kind of thing you want to hear if you’re planning on 12 hours of contract work, using battery-hungry GPS navigation to get around town.

In contrast, call quality is surprisingly good, both on the phone’s integrated speaker and over Bluetooth. Considering the rest of the phone’s performance, I was expecting it to be sub-par, but I can’t knock the LTE reception indoors or outdoors.

Cat S42 sample photo: tree Cat S42 sample photo: basketball hoop  Cat S42 sample photo: playground

But hey, CAT isn’t pushing this phone towards shutterbugs. As long as you can accurately get the text on a receipt or an invoice, and maybe shoot a selfie or two during off hours, the cameras will do fine. Just expect to do a lot of work in post-processing to make them “post-worthy,” and wait around a bit for autofocus to lock on.

CAT’s more expensive phones might make great companions on a worksite, but they’re priced out of this particular niche. You can consider this review an enthusiastic endorsement of their durability if nothing else. As it stands, a standard budget phone and a tough outer case for emergencies would be a better solution than the S42 for pretty much any user. Unless, you know, you actually want to run over your smartphone with a car.

Here’s What We Like

  • Inexpensive
  • Unbelievably tough
  • Glove mode is cool

And What We Don’t

  • Terrible battery life, no fast charge
  • Bad software performance
  • No fingerprint reader

Tech

GoPro’s New 3-Way 2. Mount is a Superior Tripod, Selfie Stick, and Grip

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A GoPro on a 3-Way mount in tripod mode
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GoPro’s original 3-Way mount is a perfectly-appreciated accent that cuts down on the quantity of grips you could possibly have for your films. But it isn’t ideal, and the tripod, in individual, is flimsy. The new $69.99 3-Way 2. fixes that thanks to an overhaul that enhances the design and style whilst respecting the previous.

The primary 3-Way mount tucked a tripod alternative into its grip. You pulled it out, screwed it into the bottom of the grip, and put it down. But it was not a incredibly sturdy tripod, which restricted its usefulness for lengthy photographs like a time-lapse.

A GoPro on a 3-Way mount in compact tripod mode
GoPro

 

The enhance 3-Way 2. forgoes that design and style in favor of a extra durable selection. Now the bottom of the grip splits into a tripod mode, with 3 much larger and heftier legs holding the grip up. You will nevertheless get a selfie adhere manner that advantages from a hinged style and design you can use to disguise the pole from your photographs. And it supports a straight grip method as effectively, great for extensive classes that may well normally tire out your hand.

But the enhanced tripod is not the only update on display. The grip now works by using a buckle mount in spot of the old finger mount. You are going to need the other half of the buckle mount to connect your GoPro to the 3-Way, but GoPro cameras normally occur with that. And thanks to the new design and style, transferring your GoPro from the 3-Way to other components (which frequently also use buckle mounts) need to be much easier.

And just less than the mount is a new ball joint that will allow you pivot the digicam or swivel it 360 degrees so you can consider the perfect shot.

The GoPro 3-Way 2. mount is $69.99. You can obtain it from the company’s web-site. If you want to help you save a couple of bucks and really don’t head the outdated tripod model, you can obtain the first design on Amazon (for at minimum a small for a longer period).

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