Bullitt Group, a Britain-based company, had everyone s attention at the last year s MWC as the company announced a new rugged smartphone, Cat S60, featuring a thermal camera. Almost one year after the announcement the company is now officially entering the Indian market. The company will debut with the Cat S60 smartphone in next two to three weeks. The smartphone will be available both online and offline. While the company hasn t announced the price but has confirmed it will be a premium one. Also Read - Motorola Moto Tab G70 appears on BIS, indicates imminent launchAlso Read - Redmi Note 11T to Moto G31: Phones launches expected in India next week
For those who haven t been up to date, the Cat S60 is one of its kind rugged smartphone that comes with a thermal camera based on MSX Technology. The thermal camera tech has been provided by a company called Flir, which has been in thermal imaging segment for multiple decades. With devices like Cat S60, Flir has been trying to target the consumer segment. The company also sells Flir One, a thermal camera dongle that can be attached to routine smartphones. Also Read - Motorola G51 5G price, launch time tipped in new leak
The thermal camera on the Cat S60 is able to capture thermal images in VGA resolution. You can also shoot in panorama and time lapse modes. The camera comes with preloaded filters allowing you to capture the coldest spots or just the warmest spots. There s also a photo editing -like feature to customize the thermal filter on the images. According to the company, the thermal camera can sense heat from up to 30 meters and up to 100 feet in height. It is also said to capture temperature between -20 degrees Celsius and 120 degree Celsius. It is an IP68 certified smartphone which means it is dust and water resistant (up to 5 meters for 60 minutes). It is said to survive drops up to 1.8 meters.
As far as rest of the specifications go, the Cat S60 comes with a 4.7-inch HD display with Gorilla Glass 4 protection. The display comes with a special touch mode allowing users to use the smartphone with wet fingers or wearing gloves. The smartphone runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of onboard storage.
Besides the rear facing thermal camera, the Cat S60 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual LED flash and a 5-megapixel front facing camera. The smartphone is powered by a 3,800mAh battery and comes with 4G LTE, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity options. On the software front, it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out-of-the-box.
While these specifications may seem underwhelming to many, Bullitt Group s Pete Cunningham stresses the company focuses on the user experience rather getting into specifications war. He added that the rugged smartphones, like the Cat S60, are targeted at a very niche audience such as people in the industrial area, bikers, swimmers, trekkers or those in adventures. The company realizes that there s a very small market, but we are not here to sell millions of units either, he commented.
Acknowledging the intense competition in the smartphone segment in India, Pete said, Yes, India is a highly competitive market but it s also a highly exciting market. And that s why we are coming with the Cat S60. Because the S60 is something different and unique. We waited for a product like this to come to India.
When asked about the company s plan to enter India in 2017 rather one or two years earlier, he explained, Just around one year ago, we had a new CEO onboard who focused on expanding the company s base in the world. There were two ways to do it, either have more partners or go for the geographical expansion. At the moment, we are focusing on the latter. We have been studying the key markets to expand our business into. India is clearly one of those key markets.
As said earlier, India s smartphone market has continued to grow in size and is far from hitting the saturation point. From Apple to Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Motorola, the existing and new brands have aggressive India strategies. While the glass and metal phones have become mainstream, brands have sporadically experimented with the idea of indestructible phones for mass users. Not long ago, Motorola introduced shatterproof phone, theX Force that had some sort of rugged element into it. ALSO READ: Here s how Motorola Moto X Force s ShatterShield technology protects its display from breaking
That said, the market for the rugged smartphones in India is minuscule at the moment. According to Counterpoint data, rugged phones have about 0.2 percent share in India with very few players like Kyocera, Mann and Geotel. Though the likes of Panasonic have been targeting the enterprise segment with their rugged laptops and tablet devices.
Demand for rugged smartphones in India among mass consumer is extremely low. Moreover, the price is going to be a big challenge for any new brand getting into the rugged phone business. Several companies offer IP rated smartphones that make them water and dust resistant to a certain extent , said Parv Sharma, an analyst at Counterpoint.
Thermal camera is unique feature but it is more of a novelty rather than a necessity. Besides being rugged, these phones have to offer more USPs like one on one radio features, which would make great sense for some consumers, say trekkers. However, in India, to offer such features, companies need to acquire the license from the government. Such companies can start with developer-focused rugged phones and ones with a lower price tag to generate some interest in the market, he added.