CAT S62 Pro: This rugged smartphone hides amazing superpowers

2021-12-08 08:44:14 By : Ms. Tina Yu

The incredible FLIR thermal imaging sensor is the main selling point here, and this alone is worth the money-despite the flaws elsewhere.

The CAT S62 Pro is stylish, well-built, very durable, and integrates an incredible FLIR sensor, making thermal imaging available to anyone. Sadly, the performance is average, and the battery life is not as long as we hoped. 

It is difficult to find a technology with truly amazing features, but the CAT S62 Pro rugged smartphone is one of them. With the built-in infrared radiation sensor for thermal vision, you can uncover the magical hidden layers of the world around you. What you do with this newly discovered superpower is up to you.

CAT S62 Pro is now on sale internationally at a price of approximately US$600.

As the outstanding feature of CAT S62 Pro, I want to start this review in an unconventional way by extensively discussing the embedded Lepton 3.5 sensor from Teledyne FLIR. Usually reserved for military and professional applications, infrared radiation detection enables you to view parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that are invisible to humans.

The Lepton 3.5 sensor is the latest embeddable version that provides a resolution of 160 x 120, but by default, it is superimposed into mixed reality mode using the dedicated FLIR application on the CAT S62 Pro. Although the resolution sounds low, it is four times better than the previous generation and provides enough granularity for most applications, as shown below. Remember, this is not like taking a picture-it is another layer of data superimposed on reality.

To test the FLIR sensor, we took a walk in the garden on a cold night in April. In order to get the full effect, it is definitely worth watching the comment video of the screenshots taken below.

First, we checked some bulk compost bags that had just arrived that morning. These are made from local green waste, and you can immediately see that they are still very actively composting. Cracked lava appeared at the top, and excavations below the surface showed very high temperatures. This compost should be allowed to decompose for a longer time, otherwise it may burn the roots of the new seedlings.

It is fascinating to see how much heat the big rock retains. Below are some gabion stone walls blocking our hillside; they are 10 degrees Celsius higher than the ambient temperature. By planting them to prevent frost, we can really benefit from them.

Below is a Hotbin composter. The company claims that it can reach 60 degrees Celsius, which is necessary to break down harder organic waste such as bones-but I have never really believed these claims. But even on cold spring nights, it seems feasible to dig out temperatures as high as 50 degrees.

Water also seems to hold a lot of heat-you can clearly see the water level in this opaque rainwater collector.

You can still see footsteps within about 30 seconds after the event; I don’t know how much heat will be transferred to the surface through instant contact. I can imagine this will be very useful when hunting, of course it can be used to track live animals, and it can also be used to track its path when you are close.

We can also identify hot water pipes around the home and some very humid areas. There are hot plugs and adapters everywhere in my office, but the most interesting is the Nanoleaf light board, where you can see where the LEDs are wired (the panel was closed at the time).

The FLIR application is highly customizable, including changing the color scheme, mixing more or less real camera views, and manually locking the temperature scale. By default, it will automatically zoom the view based on the temperature range. You can also add measurement points to roughly indicate the actual temperature at a specific point or the average value of the area. In most cases, I keep it in the default color scheme and dynamic scaling, using object outlines instead of the full hybrid camera view, because this seems most useful to a layman like me.

You can actually buy the sensor separately for around $200, but of course, you need the intelligence to integrate it into your own camera system. The closest product FLIR offers for a complete kit of similar specifications appears to be the C5 model, which has a retail price of nearly $800. As a feature of a $600 smartphone, I think it’s worth the money, and it’s much more convenient than carrying a dedicated device with you.

The CAT S62 Pro is equipped with a 5.7-inch TFT LCD and sixth-generation Gorilla Glass, which completely avoids the notch. There are about 2 mm borders on the left and right, and about 10 mm borders on the top and bottom, so the screen-to-body ratio is quite low, about 69%. The colors are reasonable and feel bright enough for daily use, although like most smartphones, visibility in direct sunlight is difficult.

The resolution is 1280 x 2160, which is higher than HD, but not yet Retina level. I have no complaints about the screen, but this is not one aspect of the phone I will try to tell you how great it is.

With a total thickness of 12 mm, a weight of 250 grams (0.47 inches/8.8 ounces), and a solid metal band on the edges, this is undoubtedly a thick phone. The back is made of durable rubber and plastic, and the lower part has a textured area to help you grip. It feels great. The fingerprint sensor provided easy unlocking and was reliable for me throughout the test.

The CAT logo is prominently embossed in the upper right corner. On the left, you will find a programmable orange multifunction button and a dual SIM card tray with a shared micro-SD slot. The power button and volume button are located on the right, but the power button feels a bit off when used with one hand. There is an exposed USB-C port on the base and no cover is provided, but after immersing it in water and dirt, I have no problems.

CAT S62 is as sturdy and durable as a mobile phone, has IP68 and IP69 protection grades, is waterproof and dustproof, and complies with MIL-STD-810 specifications. This includes immersion in a depth of 2m for 60 minutes and protection from high-pressure water jets. It should be fine to drop to 6 feet.

I will not deliberately try to destroy it, but even if there is no rubber cover on the USB port, it will survive.

Rugged mobile phones and top performance are usually not combined, CAT S62 Pro is no exception, equipped with 6GB of memory and Snapdragon 660 CPU using Adreno 512 graphics card three years ago.

Geekbench 5's single-core CPU score is 294, multi-core is 1403, and GPU computing OpenCL score is 574, which is disappointing.

The 3DMark Wild Life test listed the device as a more powerful device than only 9% of the phones tested this quarter, and was in the bottom 3% of the phones overall, managing a trivial two frames per second. In other words, I can play Call of Duty, although I wouldn't describe it as smooth. Obviously, this is not a gaming phone.

What's more worrying is that I think the general interface is almost imperceptible to most operations. Even if there is a DNS blocker on the network, browsing the web is slow. The loading time on CAT S62 Pro is also usually slow, possibly due to eMMC 128GB storage. Overall, the performance is acceptable, and I can easily use it for daily tasks such as Slack, Google Discover, Gmail, and Reddit. However, users of professional applications may encounter problems, and gamers should obviously look elsewhere. Unfortunately, flagship rugged gaming phones with FLIR imaging capabilities are a niche market that manufacturers have not yet explored.

Running stock Android 10, the update seems to be timely, usually every three months. The latest test time is from April 1st, so you should be able to rest safely because safety will not be an issue. CAT has promised to update the device to Android 11 in due course, although this has not been achieved within six months of the phone’s release.

Since the FLIR sensor is the main imaging function here, you can only find a rear 12MP f1.8 sensor. In the case of sufficient light, photos and videos look very clear, more than enough for mid-range phones. In any case, it is not amazing, but you will not be disappointed. If you often find yourself using a zoom or macro lens on your current phone, then this single sensor will be limited.

The front-facing selfie camera is also sufficient, although it is also nothing outstanding.

The 4000mAh battery is larger than the average flagship product, but smaller than other rugged devices. In typical use, I only used it for a little over a day. This is lower than I expected for a rugged device, probably due to the low efficiency of the LCD screen.

An even stranger omission in the CAT S62 Pro is the wireless Qi charger. Considering the low cost of other aspects of this circuit (it is basically just a metal coil), I think there is a good technical reason why it is not included-perhaps because it interferes with the FLIR sensor. However, this is especially annoying on rugged devices, because you don’t always want to fiddle with cables, and you may choose to completely block the USB port with a rubber plug.

The outstanding feature of CAT S62 Pro is the FLIR imaging sensor, which greatly increases the price. If you are not interested in using it, please do not buy CAT S62 Pro. simple.

In other words, I think this is a fascinating feature that has countless uses besides industry professionals. For homeowners, it can easily identify dampness or insulation issues and track pipes behind dry walls. For outdoor types, you can see in the dark and gain a competitive advantage when hunting.

The CAT S62 Pro is so well constructed that it feels like it will be hit and it looks great at the same time. But in other respects, it offers mediocre performance, a normal camera, sub-average battery life, and no 5G connection or Qi charging.

At this price point, you will find better-performing rugged phones elsewhere, or if performance is not a priority and you don’t need a FLIR sensor, the price will be much cheaper. Obviously, this is not a phone designed to appeal to everyone, but for those who want high-quality FLIR imaging, CAT S62 Pro is an incredible choice.

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James holds a bachelor's degree in artificial intelligence and is certified by CompTIA A+ and Network+. When he is not busy as a hardware review editor, he likes Lego, VR and board games. Before joining MakeUseOf, he was a lighting technician, English teacher and data center engineer.

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