Caterpillar Cat S52

Cool factor 4/5
Usability 3½/5
Value for money 4/5

Caterpillar has sold smartphones in SA since 2014, targeting the construction market.

Its handsets offer military grade protection; they can be dropped on concrete, thrown into water, are resistant to salt mist, and can survive extreme temperatures.

However, its latest Cat S52 takes a consumer-friendly approach to appeal to a mainstream market.

The result is a 9.69mm thin device, a contrast to the chunkier handsets we’ve seen in the past. It still has an industrial look; you can see the screws around the edges, but combined with its slim form, it marries both concepts well.

The 5.65-inch smartphone runs on a Mediatek Helio octa-core processor and performed well in our tests, like switching between apps; browsing the web; and watching videos — though it is best to use headphones for better sound.

Where it struggled a little is with the performance of its camera app; it’s not as snappy when taking pictures in succession.

That said, the camera quality is a step up from previous models. It features a 12MP dual-pixel Sony lens with electronic image stabilisation; a portrait mode that works when a face is detected; and shoots in HDR. Both front and rear cameras have full 1080p HD video support and the selfie-camera is an 8MP shooter.

The S52’s user interface is a little confusing: the various swipes and gestures one needs to make take getting used to. The app drawer for example, can be accessed by swiping upwards from the bottom, but this is not to be confused with a similar motion to toggle between opened apps.

As a result, it took us a while to find and access all the apps on the device.

The Cat S52 ships with Android 9, has 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a rear- fingerprint sensor and a nonremovable 3100mAh battery. It has a USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm audio jack.

If you or your kids have a record of repeatedly breaking phone screens, this midrange handset is the right one for you. It is priced at R10,999.

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