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CAT S52 Review: Sleek, Sophisticated and Completely Indestructible

Built for their durability, CAT devices have traditionally been big, chunky, heavy and well-protected. The CAT S52 promises similar levels of ruggedness but looks more like a phone that you would actually want to buy. With this model, CAT is clearly looking to reach a wider market, but does how does it measure up to CAT’s standards of durability?

CAT S52 | £449.99 inc-VAT

Ruggedness

As you’ve come to expect of rugged devices, the CAT S52 comes with the highest IP68 rating which means that it’s all but impervious to sand, dust and water.

This means that your CAT S52 will be protected completely from contact with harmful dust; whether it’s wood shavings, sand or soil.

Alongside this, the S52 can be completely submerged in water and is waterproof down to 1.5 metres for up to 35 minutes. It is important to remember that all of these tests are performed in fresh water, so you should certainly exercise more caution around salt-water, chlorine or spilt drinks.

The CAT S52 also comes with a MIL-SPEC-810G certification, testing which involves thermal shock, vibration, humidity and salt mist. This certifies protection against drops of up to 1.5m (or 5 foot) onto concrete, which is noticeably higher than where you’d naturally hold your device. Indeed, the CAT S52 is drop tested repeatedly onto concrete from this height, on every side and corner of the phone.

The display of the CAT S52 is further protected by a 0.7mm pane of toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 6, recessed beneath a protective ridge; vital in protecting the display from scratches and bumps.

Finally, the CAT S52 can operate within a temperature range of -30-degrees to 65-degrees and has a category 4 resistance to vibration. It is also covered by a 2-year comprehensive warranty in Europe.

  • IP68 certification
  • Waterproof down to 1.5m for 35 minutes 
  • MIL-SPEC-810G certification 
  • Protection of drops up to 1.5m/5ft onto concrete 
  • 0.7mm Corning Gorilla Glass 6
  • -30 to 65 degree temperature range 
  • Category 4 resistance to vibration
  • 2-year comprehensive warranty in Europe

 

Design and Display

Rugged devices are designed to be as they are, with no need to add a case or other accessories - and the CAT S52 is the sleekest CAT device to date; whilst still being incredibly tough. Indeed, at 158.1 x 76.6 x 9.69mm and weighing 210g, the S52 is one of few rugged devices that is genuinely pocket friendly.

That said, it still feels incredibly sturdy thanks to the high-grade aluminium frame, whilst the non-slip rubberised TPU back gives for a great grip in hand and attractive matte-like finish. Unlike a lot of other rugged devices, there are no removable caps over ports since the ports are actually waterproof; helping with the overall sleekness of design.

The display isn’t half bad either, as a super bright 5.65-inch HD+ IPS panel is bright in all conditions; even direct sunlight. This comes with a 1440 x 720-pixel resolution at 285ppi, with 16M colours at the standard 18:9 aspect ratio, giving a 68% screen-to-body ratio overall.

Colours are bright and vivid and wet finger/glove-on tech can be enabled so that you don’t have any issues using the touch screen whilst working. This is particularly important since the physical navigation buttons have been removed in favour of Android’s virtual buttons.

The CAT S52 also comes with a rear fingerprint scanner which is the first on any CAT phone and has been pretty quick and reliable in the time that we’ve had with the device.

  • 5.65" HD+ IPS display 
  • 1440 x 720
  • 285ppi
  • 16M colours
  • 18:9 aspect ratio
  • 68% screen-to-body ratio
  • 158.1 x 76.6 x 9.69mm
  • High-grade aluminium frame 
  • Rubberised TPU back
  • Waterproof ports 

 

Camera

CAT has labelled the S52 as having the best camera currently available on a rugged phone, with a single 12MP lens on the rear, with a bright f/1.8 aperture, dual pixel PDAF and EIS.

For a device of this kind, pictures are pretty impressive, and details aren’t half bad. The bright aperture gives for some great low light shots whilst fast and accurate focusing comes courtesy of its dual pixel Sony sensor.

The CAT S52 also comes equipped with an 8MP front sensor and supports video shooting at up to 1080p @ 30fps.

  • 12MP rear lens; f/1.8 aperture; dual pixel PDAF; EIS
  • 8MP front camera 
  • Video recording at 1080p @ 30fps 


Performance

On the performance side of things, the CAT S52 runs a Mediatek Helio P35 Octacore 2.3GHz processor along with 4GB of RAM which provides all the speed and efficiency that you’ll need for daily tasks. Switching between apps has been an effortless experience, even when using more power-intensive apps and games. Indeed, the CAT S52 comes with Android 9.0 (Pie) in box, however an upgrade to Android 10 is reportedly due early in 2020. You’re also promised security patches every 90 days.

A 3,100mAh battery is more than respectable for a device of this standing and CAT claims that this provides up to 29 hours of talk time, up to 28 days of stand-by time and a day-and-a-half of ‘real world’ battery life. When it is time to recharge, then the S52 also supports fast charging.

At the top of the device, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, whilst the waterproof USB Type-C port is to the bottom. The S52 all supports a microSD card and a Nano SIM, both of which can be accessed to the left of the device. Finishing things off, the device is 4G, with dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC.

  • Mediatek Helio P35 Octacore 2.3GHz processor 
  • 4GB RAM 
  • Android 9 (Pie); Android 10 due early 2020
  • Security patches every 90 days 
  • 3,100mAh battery 
  • 29 hours talk time; 28 days standby; 1.5 days 'real world'
  • Fast charging supporting
  • 3.5mm headphone jack 
  • microSD card support 
  • 4G; dual band WiFi; Bluetooth 5.0; NFC