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If your idea of the best smartphone is one that can take damage, the Caterpillar Cat S61 wants your number. It very well could be the best waterproof phone for having the highest ingress rating, and overall the best rugged smartphone. Its battery life, however, is an ideal choice if you’re looking for the best phone for business, too.
If you’re someone who frequently drops their phone, the Caterpillar Cat S61 will be your savior, featuring an ingress protection rating of IP69, along with a few unique features for those who work for their hands.
Performance was not the S61’s first priority, which is a shame considering it has a decent chipset, the Snapdragon 630. Functionality came first, best seen by its integrated indoor air quality sensor, measuring tool, and FLIR thermal camera. They’re conveniently, but otherwise inferior to the real deal. Its camera is also average, taking “good enough” pictures and will do fine capturing special moments, but pales in comparison to cheaper mid-range smartphones. Colors are somewhat muted, saturation is off, and low-light pictures aren’t particularly good. if you still want a rugged phone with a nice camera then you can choose the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 that comes with a 13MP camera.
You can live long and prosper with its battery life though. It can be absolutely phenomenal, lasting nearly two days, even with mixed and heavy usage. It also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, so if you need extra juice you can sit around for a couple minutes and top off.
There are dozens of mid-range smartphones out there with better displays than the Caterpillar Cat S61. The best it offers is functionality on its Full HD, 5.2-inch screen. It isn’t particularly wonderful, nor terrible—just average. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, on the other hand, is big and beautiful.
The ruggedness of the Caterpillar Cat S61 is fantastic, but not indestructible. Its screen is corning Gorilla Glass 5; it’s tough, but drop it on sharp angles and it’s bound to bust. What’s most impressive is it’s IP69, which is the highest rating you can get against dust and water, higher than the Apple iPhone 11’s IP68 rating.
Is the protection worth the price of admission? What about the extra features, such as the indoor air quality monitor and integrated thermal imaging camera? To be frank: it’s hit or miss. What matters is if you’re truly accident prone enough to warrant such a purchase or its features are actually helpful to what you do; otherwise you’re better off strapping a case to an iPhone X or Google Pixel 4 XL.
The Caterpillar Cat S61 isn’t particularly special in terms of performance. There are dozens of smartphones outpacing it in just about every aspect; however, it has some interesting features to offer, albeit niche in nature. If you need a measuring tool, FLIR camera, or air quality sensor, the S61 can do that. It’s even rugged, being IP69.