Cat S62 Pro review: a super rugged phone with built-in thermal imaging

The Cat S62 Pro is a mid-range phone with a couple of major selling points

Cat S62 Pro
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

Very few phones offer the sort of rugged protection for your device that the Cat S62 Pro has, and throw in a thermal imaging camera as well. If you think you'll make use of those two strengths of the phone, then the relative weaknesses aren't going to bother you.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Brilliant thermal camera

  • +

    Incredibly tough

  • +

    Battery life that lasts

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Screen isn't the best

  • -

    Average standard camera

  • -

    On the bulky side

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The Cat S62 Pro has two key selling points: the best thermal imaging camera that you can get on a phone, and a toughness rating that's substantially higher than the vast majority of phones on the market. Interested? We've got all you need to know about the smartphone.

A thermal camera has more uses than you might think, across DIY and finding your pets in the back garden and troubleshooting technical problems with hardware. That's before you get to all the commercial and industry uses of course, which make it even more useful.

Bullitt Group, which licenses the Cat name for these phones, is marketing the S62 Pro as "the ultimate work phone", and it's fair to say that most of the people who will be interested in this handset will have some kind of usage scenario in mind for their job.

That said, we think the idea of a rugged, go-anywhere phone with one particular superpower is going to appeal more generally too, whatever your occupation – and the phone is reasonably priced as well. Read on to get the full Cat S62 Pro review verdict.

Cat S62 Pro review: price and availability

The Cat S62 Pro is available to buy now, direct from the Cat phones website or from multiple third-party retailers (including Clove and Laptops Direct in the UK).

Check out the widgets on this page for the latest pricing offers and deals, but the official retail price for the phone is £599 in the UK and $749 in the US. That's mid-range pushing upper-range, but the handset does come with some very clever tricks.

Cat S62 Pro review: design and screen

Cat S62 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

While the Cat S62 Pro certainly isn't the chunkiest phone we've ever seen, it takes ruggedness and toughness very, very seriously – as well as a top-level IP68 and IP69 rating for waterproofing and dustproofing, the phone also passes the MIL-STD-810 military standard spec for durability and robustness. In real terms, it can survive drops of up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) onto solid steel.

We're pleased to say all this extra protection doesn't make the phone look at all ugly. Sure, you can tell it's not a premium flagship in the looks department, but we like what Cat has done with the rubber and metal that encases the S62 Pro. While we were reluctant to throw our review unit around too much, we can say it survived the drops and the submersions we put it through with no problems at all.

The screen is one of the most obviously mid-range parts of the Cat S62 Pro: the 5.7-inch, 1080 x 2160 pixel LCD display here isn't as sharp, as bright or as fast as the panels on some of the other phones available at this price point, and it's a long way from the screens on the most expensive flagships on the market. It does the job though, and you have to weigh everything up against the price – and bear in mind that the Cat S62 Pro isn't really trying to sell itself on its screen.

Making a phone that's both resilient and aesthetically pleasing isn't easy, but we think the Cat S62 Pro pulls it off rather well. It's a little heavier and thicker than you might be used to – the thickness is 11.9 mm or 0.47 inches – but it's not really a problem. The data and charging port is USB-C, there is a microSD card slot but no headphone jack, and there's also an extra button on the side that you can set up with a custom app shortcut. The phone also has a fingerprint sensor on the back.

Cat S62 Pro review: camera and battery

For its thermal camera, the Cat S62 Pro has turned to industry experts FLIR and its Lepton 3.5 camera – a professional-grade, high-resolution option that is significantly sharper than thermal cameras on previous Cat phones (and on competitor handsets). The camera is accessed not through the usual camera app but through the dedicated FLIR app, and it only takes a few seconds before it's up and running.

The camera comes with a whole host of different options to play around with: you can limit the temperature range, and blend the thermal image with the image from the phone's actual camera, and take specific temperature readings, and take pictures with annotations, and change the colour scheme, and more besides. The manufacturer has done a really nice job here, and we're impressed.

Aside from the thermal camera, the Cat S62 Pro has a single-lens 12MP snapper on the back – it'll do the basics in terms of smartphone photography but not much more than that. We found that it's capable of getting some good results in decent lighting, but it can't match up to other phone cameras at this price point in terms of sharpness, colour balancing and shooting images in low light.

It's a better story with the 4,000 mAh battery, which still had plenty of juice left at the end of each day during our testing. Even if you're making extensive use of the thermal imagery and demanding apps like mapping, we think you'll comfortably make it though a day – maybe two if you're more careful with battery management. In our two-hour video streaming test the battery dropped from full to 77 percent, which works out as about eight hours of streaming overall.

Cat S62 Pro review: price and verdict

Cat S62 Pro

(Image credit: Cat)

In the end it's really all about that thermal imaging camera: if you think you're going to make serious use of it, then the Cat S62 Pro is just about the best in the business at the moment. You get sharp, accurate, high-resolution results, with a ton of customisation and analysis options available inside the software as well.

The other reason to buy this phone is its ruggedness – something Cat phones take very seriously. It's going to cope with just about any punishment you can put it through, above and beyond the normal waterproofing and dustproofing that you get on some other phones. Do you need a handset that can go anywhere with you? And take thermal images while you're there? The Cat S62 Pro is an excellent pick.

Nothing else from the phone is really going to stand out to you if you're in the market for a new device: the internal specs and the regular camera are rather ordinary, and the quality of the screen isn't going to dazzle you. At the price that the Cat S62 Pro is pitched, there are other phones around that are better value for money if you don't need the special camera and the extra sturdiness.

The Cat S62 Pro is one of just a handful of phones offering thermal imaging and extra handset protection in one complete package, and we'd say it's the best we've seen so far – even though there's still plenty of room for improvement. It's a niche product sure, but if you are one of the people working in that niche then you're going to be pleased to have the Cat S62 Pro as your smartphone companion.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.