I’ve handled a lot of rugged smartphones, and I’ve come to expect big, chunky, heavy, rubberized units that look like tanks and can take knocks and bumps and scrapes — and dunks in water. What I don’t expect is a smartphone that feels like an iPhone 14 Pro Max in the hand.
And what I really don’t expect is satellite capability.
With the Cat S75, you get it all.
The Cat S75 boasts a modern, robust design, and has passed more than 100 laboratory stress tests. It’s drop-proof up to 1.8 meters on steel, dustproof, dirt-proof, and waterproof to IP68/IP69K.
Cat S75 tech specs
- Display: 6.58-inch (20:9) FHD+ (2220 x 1080 pixels) 120Hz, Corning Gorilla Glass 7 (Victus)
- Processor: Mediatek Dimensity D930 octa-core 2.2GHz
- Operating system: Android 12 (upgradable to Android 14)
- Cameras: 50-megapixel, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro with underwater mode, 8MP front
- Networks Satellite: 23/255/256
5G: N1/N2/N3/N5/N7/N8/N20/N28/N38/N40/ N41/N75/N77/N78
- Satellite connectivity: Yes, Bullitt Satellite Connect
- Storage: 6GB RAM with 128GB
- Battery: 5,000mAh non-removable lithium polymer
- Dimensions: 171 x 80 x 11.9mm
- Weight: 268g
- Ingress protection: IP68 and IP69K (waterproof to 5 meters for 35 minutes, drop tested up to 1.8 meters (6 ft) onto steel, handles extreme temperatures — 30°C (-22°F) to 75°C (167°F) – for 24 hours
While companies such as Blackview and Ulefone have popularized rugged Android smartphones, the Cat S-series handsets — built by Bullitt — were some of the first that I remember. The brand positions itself as a professional, industrial brand that is aimed at demanding industries such as construction, surveying, and security.
A big difference between phones from the likes of Blackview and Ulefone, and the Cat S-series handsets is that the latter feels more like premium smartphones. In fact, the S75 looks and feels so much like my iPhone 14 Pro Max that I was reluctant at first to subject it to any harsh treatment.
One of the first things I wanted to test was waterproofing, so I used it to take some underwater photos.
This worked great, although I did get warnings about water in the port, and these warnings were hard to bypass because the display was unresponsive when it was wet.
There may be a way to disable these warnings, but I’ve not come across it yet.
While a lot of ruggedized smartphones use rubber bungs on the charging port, the Cat S75 doesn’t, with the only rubber cover being on the SIM slot.
To get that SIM tray out, I had to use a tool. It’s not something that you need to do that often, but if you do need to do it, you’ll need something to coax the SIM tray out.
I also tested the cameras on land, and the outputs are more than acceptable for an industrial handset. I took some shots with both the Cat S75 and my iPhone, and while I felt that the iPhone shots had more “pop”, the underlying quality felt very similar.
On the ruggedized front, the Cat S75 is tough.
It feels a bit weird initially to be dropping and banging a handset that feels like my iPhone, and the shell itself feels very plasticky, but this handset took all the punishment I could dish at it, no problem. I keep my iPhone 14 Pro Max in a case, and this makes it bulkier in the hand and pocket than the Cat S75.
As far as other aspects of the Cat S75 go — the display, call quality, performance, battery life — this handset oozes a premium feel. Yes, this is a rugged handset, but it’s a no-compromise rugged handset.
The Mediatek Dimensity D930 octa-core processor, backed up by 6GB of RAM, keeps the handset running smoothly no matter what is loading. Not once did I feel the handset get bogged down or have any performance issues.
It offers a smooth Android experience.
One aspect of the Cat S75 I’ve not yet tested is the satellite connectivity, but I hope to put this through its paces real soon, and use it to pull off tricks that your iPhone can’t do.
Overall, the Cat S75 is a very nice smartphone. It shows that a rugged handset doesn’t have to be a huge brick, and that it can look equally at home in an air-conditioned office or a muddy field. Even putting aside the satellite communication feature, it’s a very well-made handset, and one that has been engineered, rather than overbuilt, to be tough.