Few phones built to resist knocks and drops in harsher environments look pretty, but the CAT S30 is certainly not all bad. It is a subtle blend of functional buttons, rubber and plastics to create a rigid and reliable phone.
The corners are squarer than the S40 but still have a degree of curvature to them. However the sharper edges do also serve as an edge for a drop onto concrete from height and allow the handset to meet Mil Spec 810G rating. 3 physical buttons on the front give feedback and resistance a capacitive button on screen cant. Whilst ports like the headphone jack can technically be exposed and IP rated, many of the environments in which CAT see this phone being used are more commercial and active lifestyle lead than the average user who just wants a waterproof phone. Thus the covers not only protect against water but more damaging sand, dirt, dust and more. Therefore what might seem like fiddly port covers are there in truth to ensure the phone remains functional for longer. If there were exposed the design of the phone may too look a little odd. Capable of taking 2 nano sized sim cards, these sit in a tray that slides in and out of the device. Due to being recessed into the body it is not easy to remove and you need patience and a delicate touch. There is a bright yellow programmable key. This can be set to open specific apps or turn the camera flash on to act as a flash and more. Measuring 4.5” from lower right to upper left corner the display on the S30 is functional. It lacks any real punch to the colours and image due to the low 480 x 854 resolution. Viewing angles are not good. You need only tilt the phone a few degrees and the colours and contrast change considerably. For the most part of checking the internet, making calls, sending text messages and running a few apps this is all perfectly fine. The resulting benefit of this lesser screen quality is the battery performance. Unlike some phones this S30 offers wet finger tracking, meaning you can actually use the phone when wet and you can use it with gloves on too. Like other CAT phones, the S30 runs Android as the operating system and it is version 5.1 is installed out of the box, so it is relatively up to date. Whilst there are a few additions from CAT they are relatively limited . Key inclusions are shown on screen now. Like most Android phones whilst you do not need a Google account to use it, to get any real value from it, adding one will transform your user experience and allow you to take advantage of services such as Maps, Drive, Chrome and more. However you can easily add on your social media and work email accounts too. There are lots of personalisation options. You can personalise your homescreens, download apps, change the font size, the screen brightness, the wallpaper,and make the device work the way that is best for you. You can even set different user accounts to limit access and functionality. As a Dual SIM smartphone, within the settings you can enable just one or both SIMS, you can choose which is the preferred SIM for what task or have it ask every time All the normal and required connectivity options are present, 2G, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and a microSD card slot are provided. No NFC though. As a dual SIM enabled smartphone you can have one or two SIMS in the phone at any one time. Use both a personal and work SIM card in the same phone or maybe a local and international SIM, the choice is yours. Or if you need only one SIM slot, leave the other empty. You can also turn each SIM on and off from the settings to save battery life and manage your connections. You will not be putting the S30 in the centre of a room and starting an impromptu party but the speaker on the phone is loud enough and serves well in most scenarios. The call quality is pretty standard and was loud enough and performed ok in our tests. What comes as a little bit of a surprise is how feature rich the camera is. There is more than I expected. Image capturing modes are shown on screen now. There are too a series of filters for creative effect. Within the settings you can change the flash mode, storage location, picture size and quality. Set a countdown timer, GPS location, face detection, ISO, Exposure, Focus Mode,and Redeye Reduction. Switch to video recording and the options are reduced a bit but still a fair number of options. Recording is available at a maximum of 720p HD. There is the option of up to 6x zoom on the camera using a pinch and zoom on screen gesture. There is no option to set the physical keys to do this, but you can use the programmable key to act as a camera shutter button for stills and to commence and end capture. The S30 has a rear 5 megapixel camera and a 2 megapixel on the front. There is a flash to accompany the rear camera that helps out in low light situations. The resulting images are mixed. On the whole they are ok and not too bad. However some can be over exposed and unbalanced in the colours whilst others can surprise you. A 3000mAh battery is fixed internally to the S30, it cannot be removed by the user. A decent sized battery we found with a single of dual SIM setup we were getting well into 2 days usage. However the battery was affected quite a bit by the signal strength and what you were doing. As is common on many phones now, the habit is to charge everyday and I would still advise this to avoid being left short. The included battery saver mode can assist in getting a little more power from the phone but you have to either have this switched on or off. Overall the S30 is a solid phone that performs reasonably for most of the tasks you will request of it. The dual SIM functionality is a big bonus and for those sole traders who may have a work and personal SIM , this phone offers the possibility to carry just one phone and still remain functional. If you work in an office all day long and do not partake in any adventurous sports then the S30 will not be ideally suited to you. If you work in an office but visit sites, spend a lot of time in the outdoors or in wet, cold or dusty environments and find your current phone takes a few tumbles then the S30 is calling out to be used by you. Functional the handset does not go overboard on the thrills but just does what it needs to do. A few nice additions and a surprising camera make this a little more charming and make you forget a little about the not quite so pretty design.