CAT S42: affordable construction worker smartphone

The Cat S42 is a so-called construction worker smartphone, but does not break your wallet with its suggested retail price of 249 euros. In this Cat S42 review you can read how sturdy the device is and how well it performs on other important points.


price € 249, –
Color Black
OS Android 10
Screen 5.65 inch LCD (1440 x 720, 60 Hz)
Processor 1.8 Ghz quadcore (MediaTek Helio A20)
Storage 32 GB
Battery 4,200 mAh
Camera 13 megapixel (rear), 5 megapixel (front)
Connectivity 4G, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC
Format 16.1 x 7.7 x 1.27 cm
Weight 220 grams
Other Water and dust proof, drop resistant, suitable for very high and low temperatures
Website 7.5 Score 75 Score: 75

  • Pros
  • Software and update policy
  • Long battery life
  • Solid design
  • Negatives
  • Weak hardware
  • Micro USB port
  • Mediocre cameras

Cat sells all kinds of ruggedized smartphones, intended for people who work or exercise in a rough environment, or for those who simply keep breaking their phone. The S42 is one of the newest models.

Sturdy design

As you’d expect from a construction worker smartphone, the CAT S42 has a rugged design. The device is made of plastic with a rubber edge, feels sturdy and lies comfortably in the hand thanks to the embossed back. The smartphone is heavier than usual at 220 grams, and is also thick (12.7 millimeters). You get something in return: the CAT S42 can withstand water, dust, sand and a fall. Moreover, you can clean the device with warm water and soap and use it in temperatures well above or below zero.

The smartphone uses large and clear buttons and has an orange button on the left side that you can set to your own liking. I have set it to start the flashlight with a double click and open my calendar app with a longer press. You can also use the CAT S42 with PTT mode, although you need a separate app for this.


The 5.65 inch screen is relatively compact, but it is not possible to operate the CAT S42 with one hand. The edges around the screen are very large. The screen itself looks fine. The colors are good enough, the image is sharp due to the HD resolution and the maximum brightness is sufficient to read the display in the summer sun. It is nice that you can operate the screen with wet fingers and gloves. The display also uses a protective layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5, a technology that is also present in many smartphones from 399 euros.

Reasonable specifications

The Cat S42 runs on a weak MediaTek processor with 3 GB RAM (slightly below average) and 32 GB storage memory (where 64 GB is common). The performance is therefore considerably less than that of competing phones, although I do not think that is a disadvantage given the other priorities of the device. Anyone looking for a powerful construction worker smartphone also has other (more expensive) alternatives. Another point of attention are the mediocre cameras on the front and back, which are really only sufficient for simple pictures. Handy is the option to use two SIM cards and a micro SD card at the same time.

Long battery life, slow charging

The battery life is positive. Thanks to the large 4200 mAh battery and the energy-efficient screen, the smartphone lasts for two days with normal use. Unfortunately, charging takes a long time via the micro-USB connection. I think the choice for micro-usb is a shame, because all competing devices have a more versatile usb-c port.

CAT S42 software

CAT ships the S42 with Android 10 and promises an update to Android 11, which will be released in September. It seems unlikely that the smartphone will also get Android 12. However, the device will receive a security update every quarter from its release date – early July 2020.

The CAT software (fortunately) adjusts Android 10 little. The handful of CAT apps can be useful for business users, but the pre-installed apps from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and others feel mostly like advertising. Fortunately, you can delete them.

Conclusion: buy CAT S42?

The CAT S42 can withstand rough use, varying temperatures and water, and is one of the cheapest construction worker smartphones available today. That’s an important selling point. Other plus points are the long battery life, the tidy software and CAT’s excellent update policy. The competitive price of 249 is reflected in the specifications: the phone uses dated and mediocre hardware. If you are looking for a sturdy smartphone with better hardware, you can turn to more expensive alternatives such as the Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro and CAT S62 Pro.


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