Tech Talk

The CAT S60 thermal phone is MWC2016’s hottest phone, literally


Caterpillar or CAT, isn’t exactly a company you’d associate with smartphones. Yes, they build heavy machinery. And yes, those cool excavators and tractors. So, what were they doing at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 again? Well, they’ve literally released the hottest phone at the conference, or at least one that can sense heat. Their latest CAT S60 happens to be the world’s first smartphone with a built-in thermal imaging camera.

How cool is a smartphone with a thermal imaging camera? Well, pretty darn cool. The device was developed in collaboration with electronics company Bullitt, and thermal imaging camera manufacturer FLIR. By the way, FLIR is the world’s leading designer and maker of thermal imaging infrared cameras.

The heat is on

The thermal camera, clearly branded FLIR on the side sits above the device’s regular 13MP rear camera. The camera measures surface temperatures, and apparently accurate up to 30m. On the front, there’s a conventional 5MP camera.

It can see through smoke or in total darkness, so you can keep an eye on that rack of ribs on the grill. Or see if your neighbour’s been stealing your apples from your tree.

Made for professionals

Jokes aside, though, the CAT S60 is highly suitable for people in construction, utility workers and especially those in emergency services. It’s highly suitable for use at construction sites and by people like firemen, or security/police officers.

Fire engines in some countries have thermal cameras installed, but the technology is expensive, so it’s limited to usually one device per vehicle. Imagine a S60 phone on every firemen. This could be a huge gamechanger. It could be used to find people trapped in buildings, and so much more.

On the design side of things, let’s say it’s not going to win any beauty contests. It will however, increase your macho index by 1000%. It’s chunky, heavy and built tough. It’s almost as if the S60 was made for people who drive 4x4s.

Did I mention it was tough? Well, it’s military-grade tested, and can withstand drops from 1.8m. It’s dust-, shock- and water-resistant; able to withstand submersion in five-metre deep water for up to an hour.

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A regular Android

As a regular smartphone, it has decent enough specs: 4.7-inch HD display, octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a whopping 3,800mAh battery. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out-of-the-box. It’s important to note that the screen works even while wet and with gloves on.

When I spoke to the S60 product engineer from Bullit, Pete Cunningham, at the CAT booth, I was able to give the phone a little hands-on. I noticed an SOS button on the side, but according to CAT, the final version of the S60 will not feature this. It was initially meant to send a signal of your location and message to an emergency contact, when pressed. It will be replaced by a dedicated camera button in the retail version. There’s also a toggle to switch between 2m and 5m of water depth.

Tough to the core

The phone did feel incredibly solid. You could literally throw it around and jump in a pool without worrying if you’ll cause damage to it.

As cool as this device is, it’s not going to be accessible to the mass market. It will hit the US and European market in June this year at a price of US$599/€649, at online stores as well as through its distribution network.

Asked if the S60 will be headed to Asia, Cunningham said he thinks that there will be a huge demand for the device and there’s certainly opportunity for it to do so.

For more on CAT smartphones, visit

So what do you think? It’s this hot or not?







By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.