After meeting a small success at MWC 2016 with the Cat S60, Bullit arrived this year in Barcelona with its successor, the Cat S61. Small tour of the owner.
At the Mobile World Congress 2018, far from the luxurious aisles of Hall 3 where the booths of Sony, Samsung and other big names of mobility stand, the manufacturer Bullit offered the visitors of the show to discover the Caterpillar S61. Successor of the S60, mobile of 2016 with surprising popularity, this new model takes again the bases and brings some notable improvements.
Cat S61 with thermal camera and lasermeter.
At first glance, it is difficult to discern any significant differences from the model of last year. The screen is certainly larger (5.2 inches, against 4.7 on the S60, respectively 13.2 and 11.9 cm). However, Cat having worked on optimizing the front panel, it is hardly noticeable. We are of course very far from the 80% screen occupancy rate displayed by some mobiles, but we are happy to see that even on such mobiles, this concern is taken seriously. The construction still exudes strength and durability with its rubber back, large physical buttons and metallic outline. And fortunately, because like its predecessor, this mobile is clearly made to be used in difficult conditions. Note that despite its construction phone look, the phone is not that heavy: a good surprise.
High price for gifted phone
By getting closer, we still notice some small changes. First of all, the S61 was equipped with a lasermeter in addition to the thermal camera. According to Caterpillar, the tool is capable of measuring distances up to 10 m with a margin of error of 2%. In our tests on a non-final version of the device, the functionality was still not perfectly optimized and slowdowns were noticeable, but this is to be expected on a pre-production model. The positioning of the lasermeter on the mobile is also a bit risky: when holding the device, the fingers come to rest on the hole of the laser. Be that as it may, this new feature complements the "building professional toolkit" dimension of the smartphone; on the other hand, its limitations make it a useful tool for interior designers, but not necessarily for all building trades. For example, a carpenter may need measurements to the nearest centimeter, and an architect or site supervisor to measure greater distances.
The reinforced profile of the Cat S61.
The other novelty is the addition of a sensor to assess the quality of the air, which can be useful for people working with products with toxic fumes. Finally, the famous thermal camera that had largely contributed to the success of the S60 has moved to an HD definition (1280 x 720 px), and therefore delivers more accurate photos where we better distinguish the details. Regarding the accuracy of the thermal survey, we imagine that it is probably still not as accurate as a dedicated tool.
Again, we also feel that the software needs a little work, the stability is still random. The combination of the two cameras to have a "standard" rendering in addition to the thermal is still practical. Note, it is also possible to capture thermal videos and share them live on the web to get help remotely, for example.On the rest, the S61 is a smartphone with strong features that offers a comparable software experience to what the competition offers, and even superior on some points, since the phone arrives natively with Android Oreo (8.0) and that Cat has committed to update it to the next version of the system (Android P) when it is available. There is no question of making compromises on this front under the pretext that the S61 is a phone for "professionals." The S61 is an interesting evolution of the S60 and a tempting proposition for all those who need this kind of tools. It will be sold € 899 from next June. A high price, but when you know that lasermeters can cost hundreds of euros and a thermal camera a few thousand, the addition seems immediately more reasonable. The S61 will probably never do as well as dedicated tools, but in some cases, its margin of error is acceptable, especially considering how flexible and convenient it is to have all these tools available directly in its smartphone.