CAT, you know, the company best known for its heavy duty construction vehicles and rugged shoes has a new smartphone on the market. As with all its phones, the CAT S60 is designed to withstand extreme conditions, but it does add something we haven’t seen before: a camerathat lets users capture thermal images.

The CAT S60 houses a Lepton Microcamera Module powered by infra-red specialists FLIR, which turns the world all Predator style when you turn it on.

With that having been said, this phone is not aimed at your average smartphone user. The CAT S60 smartphone user is the type of person working in construction or engineering. Essentially the type of person that is prone to bumping their handset and dropping it accidentally from time to time. Or having it run over by a digger.

The specs fall somewhere in the middle of your traditional mid-range and premium smartphones. A Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617 chipset is the base line with a quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 and a slightly faster quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 taking on processor duties.

Internal storage has a reasonable 32GB available and there is space for a microSD card slot up to 256GB in capacity.

The most revealing of selfies

At the launch event we were invited to take a “thermie” (basically a thermal photo of ourselves) and while seeing your heat signature is pretty cool the CAT rep taking our photo had some issues navigating the display.

What do you think? Pretty hot hey?
What do you think? Pretty hot hey?

The S60 uses a capacitive Gorilla Glass 4 touchscreen, which you can use while wearing gloves or while your fingers are wet. The trade-off here is that the display didn’t feel as responsive as you may be used to. We saw some issues with functions as simple as sliding down the menu.

The trade-offs continue with the so-called “waterproof” aspect of the handset. The S60 is rated to be waterproof to 5m for up to an hour, provided you’ve flipped two switches which seal the top and bottom speakers.

What is rather nice is the ability to take photos and videos with the thermal camera and remove the thermal imaging. This would allow plumbers to show a team exactly where they need to drill into a wall for example.

At the end of the day we’re going to need a full hands on with the CAT S60 to see whether it deserves a thumbs up. While we’re all for rugged phones, R12 999 is a big ask for a phone that has a middle-of-the-road CPU.

So we went searching and found a FLIR ONE thermal imaging attachment for iPhone and Android phones for R4 999. Get yourself a cheap Redmi Note 2 and you’ve already undercut CAT’s price. You’re welcome.

The CAT S60 will be available in August from select retailers.