The CAT S61 offers upgraded thermal imaging and a laser tape measure

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We were pleasantly surprised by the CAT S60, the first phone to include a FLIR thermal imaging camera, and one of the first rugged phones we didn’t hate straight out of the box, even if the notch on top for the camera was a little unsightly. Now there’s an updated version, the CAT S61, that’s taken the thermal imaging even further and also offers built-in laser assisted distance measuring and an indoor air quality sensor.

The FLIR thermal imaging camera’s resolution has been bolstered from VGA to HD and its temperature range now extends to 400º Celsius. The accompanying software’s had an upgrade, too. That should mean improved image contrast and clarity.

CAT says these changes mean the S61 can be used for “vehicle diagnostics, asphalt monitoring, and higher temperature equipment monitoring”, in addition to the stated use cases for the S60, which included “detecting heat loss around windows and doors, spotting moisture and missing insulation, identifying over-heating electrical appliances and overloaded circuitry, and seeing in complete darkness or through obscurants such as light fog or smoke”. Basically, the Predator vision of the first version is now even more badass.

The new indoor air quality sensor comes courtesy of Sensirion, and can be used to check air quality in the home, the workshop, or anywhere else that takes your fancy, and alert you if the paint fumes are getting to heavy and you should open and window and take a break. The same sensor can also provide readings of humidity and ambient temperature.

As much as we like the thermal camera, we suspect the feature of the S61 we’d use most is the laser assisted distance measurement. More than just a laser tape measure, it can measure point-to-point distances up to 10m, calculate area, and switch between Metric and Imperial measurement (you know, in case you’re doing work for a foreigner with no understanding of metres).

Special features aside, the CAT S61 has a fairly respectable feature set. There’s a 5.2in FHD screen protected by Gorilla Glass 5, IP68 dust- and waterproofing, an enormous 4500mAh battery, a 16MP primary camera capable of 4K video (and an 8MP front-facing camera), 4GB of RAM, 64GB on storage (with a microSD slot should that prove insufficient), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor, and Android Oreo running things.

CAT’s showing off the S61 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, and says the device will be available in South Africa in the third quarter of 2018.

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