I believe the CAT® S48c Smartphone is a great mid-range phone for those looking to get away from the relatively fragile offerings today.
- Rugged design / buttons lend to durable function
- Good looking phone that stands out
- Touchscreen can be used with wet or gloved hands
- Push to talk
- Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Screen + CAT's promise to replace any damaged screen (CAT's belief in their product)
- IP68 water and dust proof
- Underwater video
- 4000mAh battery is a step down from the S41
- No toolbox / external battery option
- Screen size remaining the same
Some of you may be aware of my opportunity last year to review the CAT® S41 smartphone following CES 2018. Since that review, CAT has been developing their next move forward in the smartphone world with the CAT® S48c, a new look at mid-range, rugged smartphone. In my review last year, I noted the benefits of the S41 included a rugged body that could withstand drops, water, and dust – not to mention the included powerbank feature that allowed you to utilize the S41’s large battery as a power source for other phones. Overall, it was a great phone that would work incredibly well for anyone looking for a strong phone. However, I did also notice some points I felt should not have been cut – even at the mid-range price point, such as phone size and screen quality. In my opinion, the S41 was a solid, well-designed smartphone for those who are often hard on their equipment.
For 2019, CAT has produced a smartphone that has traded in some of the benefits of the S41 in order to add those needed specs for the S48c. To start, the S48c has a 5″ Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Screen with a backed guarantee on screen life. While the glass is an upgrade from the S41, the screen size has remained the same. With the rise of large screens within the industry, the fact that the S48c has maintained a 5″ screen is a little disappointing. This was made more concerning given the fact that CAT markets the S49c as being compatible with wet hands and with gloved hands as well. With large, bulky gloves and with the possibility of larger hands, you may not have the surface to match your needs. However, the S48c does have several areas I would like to note for the discerning customer looking into the world of rugged smartphones.
1. The Body: I mentioned the body composition in my review of the S41 last year as one of the highlights I most appreciated, and this is also the case for S48c. The thick, rubber back and solid buttons do not take away from the overall design – in fact, they enhance the build and make the phone sit solidly in your hand during calls. With large hands, the difference between a slippery, smooth, light smartphone versus this hulking powerhouse is one of security and trust. I really loved the raised buttons (home, back, multi-view) as they were very easy to use with gloves and you never accidentally pushed one with an enormous thumb. This is a phone of intent – everything you do on here is intentional and with purpose.
2. The Response: The S41 may not be blazing fast or the next gaming phone, but I found it was surprisingly quick to execute the specific functions I used. Even the quality of sites such as YouTube responded very well given the smaller design. However, this is more likely due to the incorporation of Android versus anything significant from the hardware.
3. Underwater Video: Ok, this was probably the coolest thing on the CAT® S48c. Because I was confident from last year’s review of the S41, I wasn’t too nervous about the needed drop test for the S48c. However, when I was told that the S48c could also take underwater video, I was worried about testing it out. I know I shouldn’t have been, given the fact it’s a test unit and I was encouraged to do so, but the constant worry about water + phone has plagued me since my first phone. All it takes is the first time you experience water damage to your phone and you find out the warranty doesn’t cover the damage for you to develop a lifelong complex. However, this phone DELIVERS. Perhaps you’re into scuba and want to take video diving or you’re looking to take some cool pool shots – the S48c has got your back. Is the quality of the video up to debate? Possibly. The fact that we’ve even gotten here, though, speaks volumes to the technical developments being made at even the mid-range level. Don’t take them for granted!
4. Battery Bank: This is one that I’m going to miss, but needed to be noted. As mentioned, the S41 had a feature where you could use it to power another phone. This would have proved extremely crucial for those working in isolated or solitary areas, or even for those who like to be prepared! However, the bank feature was not included on the S48c and the CAT Toolbox feature from the last generation is gone as well! I would have loved to have these functions remain on the S48c, as it added to the “rugged” and “functional” aspect of the CAT brand. However, while I personally miss this addition, there’s nothing about the phone as it is to deter someone from purchasing it since we as a society are pretty much covered with battery life (this battery still has power about two weeks after initial charging) and with external battery backs. A love-able feature, but not a required feature.
- 4000mAh battery (30 hours of 3G talk time)
- IP68 Water and Dust Proof
- MIL SPEC 810G
- 5″ FHD Screen Protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5
- Touchscreen can be used with gloved or wet hand
- Can be used in extreme temps (-13 Degrees F to 131 Degrees)
- Android OS
- 13MP Rear Camera with Flash, 5MP Front Camera
- Single SIM
- 32GB ROM flash, 4GB RAM (expandable to 128GB via microSD Card)
- Qualcomm SDM630 chipset Octacore 2.2GHz processor
- Programmable Push to Talk
- Class I, Division 2, Group A-D, T4 hazardous locations (Areas where flammable gas or flammable vapor from liquid may be present)
Even though I felt that the CAT® S48c could benefit from some of the features of the S41 (plus screen size), I still feel very confident in this phone. The rugged body and the solid build combined with the functionality and protection of the S48c really seek to fill a hole the industry ignores regarding durable smartphones. I know that there are many people who would snatch these up if small adjustments were made. Overall, these phones inspire that confidence that many phones today do not, and I believe these are a great mid-range phone for those looking to get away from the relatively fragile offerings today.
Disclosure of Material Connection: YBLTV Writer / Reviewer, Katie Hernandez received a CAT® S48c Smartphone on loan from Caterpillar in consideration for a product review.