The Cat Phones S50 is designed to take a serious beating

There are ruggedized phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active, and then there are ruggedized phones like the Cat S50. The new smartphone from Cat Phones is the sort of chunky and manly design that you'd expect from a phone bearing the Cat brand (which Bullitt Mobile has licensed from Caterpillar Inc), and it backs that up with durability credentials, including IP67 waterproofing and dustproofing and Mil Spec 810G compliance for temperature, shock, vibration, impact, and more.

Considering that the Cat S50 has a 4.7-inch display (relatively pedestrian by today's measures), it's quite a large phone, measuring in at 5.7 inches (144.5mm) tall, 3 inches (77mm) across, and half an inch (12.7mm) front to back. That's just a hair shorter and wider than the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active and notably thicker. Inside is a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 2GB RAM, 8GB storage (plus microSD expansion).

Cat Phones S50 hands-on

Cat S50 also packs LTE, as well as fairly comprehensive GSM + HSPA support, Bluetooth 4.0, and Wi-Fi b/g/n. As for software, the Cat S50 is running Android 4.4 KitKat with nary a customization from Cat. The only addition you'll find is a Cat Phones App Store containing around 1000 apps focused on the niches that Cat Phones is targeting: construction, engineering, manufacturing, etc.

In keeping with the rugged Cat theme, the S50 is a chunky phone (and not just because it's somewhat thick). The design is very angular, with straight slab sides with beveled (though not sharply so) corners all around. It doesn't feel as thick as it is when you hold it, but it does have a bit of a heft to it.

And yes, those bezels are really quite wide. Surrounding the screen is a ring of rubber with metallic insets around the four sides, all held in by exposed screws. The rubber wraps around onto the back side, which has a tread-like texture to it and bears the Cat logo and a hex nut-shaped cut-out for the 8-megapixel camera.

As for durability, the Cat Phones reps at IFA 2014 were more than willing to demonstrate, though they were doing so in the admittedly not-that-harsh environment of a hotel ballroom. Even still, it's uncommon to see a phone manufacturer toss their phone over their shoulder and let it fall to the wooden floor without even flinching. It certainly felt like it could take a beating when we held it, but we'll really believe it when we see it.

We don't yet have a release date for the Cat Phones S50, though we do at least have pricing: $499 (€479) off contract.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • A rugged phone with fairly up-to-date specs? Good to see. Not sure I will go there again - my last two "feature" phones were Casio GZ1 models. I was disappointed in their Android offerings. I have found that a good case and reasonable care has been protection enough. Posted from my XT1080M
  • Yeah, I agree. I'd rather get a more traditional phone and then just stick it in an OtterBox or LifeProof case when necessary, and remove it from the giant case when I'm not doing anything that requires it. Then again, this thing is smaller and lighter than say, a Galaxy S5 in a heavy-duty case, so if you work outside or in a high-risk environment all the time, maybe this would be a more convenient option.
  • This is a commercial phone. It is not even in the same ballpark as to what you are suggesting. It is for businesses who require such hardcore hardware period. Posted via Android Central App
  • There is also the Kyocera Brigadier which is about the same specs but has a Sapphire Display which by all reports is very tough.
  • Yeah, the brigadier blows this out of the water. But then again, so does the GS5Active, which will hit european shelves before this....
  • The SGS5 Active is also good. Better specs but not as tough as the Brigadier or Cat. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Feel sorry for the poor bastard that gets some drunk Scaffolder telling them how manly and tough their phone is. n5
  • But will it blend? Posted from my TARDIS!
  • With a £475 price thats about €550-570euros no way if its for the building or construction trade,they can keep it! tPosted via Android Centralm App
  • Best phone I've had in a very long time. Still working on learning it; but overall very pleased. One thing would be a terrific addition would be ability to subscribe to or purchase app for the assistant on Windows phone that will read and reply to emails, texts and call by verbal prompt. It is a real problem when I am driving.
  • Where can I find a desktop app to sync my phone???