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.