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CAT S60 hands-on: Meet the world's first smartphone with a thermal camera

CAT is back with a new rugged phone at Mobile World Congress, this time offering a built-in FLIR thermal camera module with the S60. FLIR's sensors have been available as add-on attachments for Android handsets for a while now, but the vendor has managed to shrink its module down to the size of a standard camera sensor with the Lepton (opens in new tab), allowing it to be integrated into a phone.

CAT S60

Here's what you're getting with the CAT S60:

CategoryFeatures
Display4.7-inch 720p IPS LCD with Gorilla Glass 4
Max. brightness of 540 nits
CPU1.7Ghz octa-core Snapdragon 617
GPUAdreno 405 GPU
RAM3GB
Internal Storage32GB storage
Storage ExpansionmicroSD slot up to 128GB
Camera13MP with dual-tone flash
FLIR thermal camera (changeable heat palettes, temperature spot meter)
5MP front shooter
ConnectivityLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, GLONASS, NFC and FM radio
Battery3800mAh
OSAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow

The CAT S60 is a chunky phone, with an angular design and beveled edges. The micro-USB and 3.5mm audio ports are all covered, and the navigation buttons are similar to what we've seen on the Galaxy S6 Active. There's front-facing audio as well.

The FLIR thermal camera is where things get interesting. The sensor has a built-in thermometer that lets you measure surface temperatures in real-time, and you can also tap to set different viewpoints to view how cold or hot an object is. The thermal sensor interlaces data from the regular camera to give you a live preview mode, which offers much more detail. You can take photos and videos in the live preview mode, but the resolution is limited to VGA (640 x 480). That may not seem like a lot, but it offers a lot of value for the professional users this phone is targeted toward.

For exapmple, first responders at an accident can leverage the thermal camera to find the wounded amidst the wreckage. Home energy contractors could point the CAT S60 at a house and determine where air is leaking.

CAT S60

The S60 can be used with wet hands or gloves, functions underwater (up to 5 meters) for an hour, and the strengthened frame offers drop protection to 1.8 meters. The phone is designed to take a beating, and is MIL-STD-810G certified, which means that it is resistant to dust, humidity, rain, thermal shock, salt, and vibration.

The CAT S60 is surprisingly decent as a regular phone. It comes with Marshmallow out of the box, with a stock interface along with a few pre-installed apps to take full advantage of the FLIR sensor.

For now, the CAT S60 is aimed at professionals, but it will be interesting to see if a mainstream vendor can leverage the FLIR sensor in a consumer-facing device. There's no release date for the S60 yet, but it will set you back $599 once it hits store shelves.

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

12 Comments
  • Expensive as hell Sent from my all-so-temporary idol 3
  • For 6 bills you get a flir camera and low end specs.
    (aside from the 3gb of Ram) Lam I Am
  • And a big battery. And the ruggedized treatment, and Gorilla 4. The only real disappointment for me is the processor.
  • Better processor and GPU than the much touted moto g line. And 3gb of RAM. Plus FLIR. depending on how the skin and how everything is optimized, this may actually be a quality phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • they should have stuck a sapphire screen on it really. i have absolutely no use for an FLIR cam but still, i cant help but want one of these things
  • Gonna replace my Turbo. Huge battery and the FLIR are good for me.
  • This is a work phone. Obviously not everyone needs a thermal camera. I used one when I worked emergency water damaged jobs. My thermal camera was the size of an encyclopedia, this would have been awesome to have Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm hoping AT&T carries this, it may be my next phone. A little bulky, but no need for a case. And you can buy attachments instead, but then you have to keep track of them.
  • If it's anything like the last one they won't. CAT marketed it towards construction workers and companies, I don't recall ever seeing anything about the phone when it was new at AT&T Posted via the Android Central App
  • Me like. Posted via my HTC One M7
  • Interesting for my work as a service tech.. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Same here. I work on sterilization equipment and I keep thinking how useful this would be for finding tiny steam leaks. Posted via the Android Central App