In a nutshell: Rugged smartphones aren't a new phenomenon, but a new device from Cat comes with a unique feature: advanced antimicrobial protection built into the handset itself.

Covid-19 times have seen more companies focus on devices with a sanitary element, from Wiil.'s and Razer's expensive face masks to the rise of Kinetic Touchless technology. Cat, which previously launched the world's first smartphone with an integrated thermal imaging camera and is known for its rugged handsets, has joined the party with the Cat S42 H+.

Cat joined forces with Addmaster on the S42 H+ to blend the latter's proprietary Biomaster antimicrobial silver ion technology into the phone's body during manufacturing, making it the first fully antibacterial handset.

According to Cat, the phone has been tested to ISO22196 standard, which evaluates the antibacterial activity of antibacterial-treated plastics and other non-porous surfaces of products. The company says the tech prevents bacteria cells from replicating by 80% within 15 minutes and 99.9% in 24 hours.

The H+ (Hygiene Plus Innovation) designation separates the phone from the standard S42, which is the same device apart from the antibacterial coating. As with other Cat devices, the focus here is on creating a handset for extreme working conditions rather than packing it with flagship specs.

The S42 H+ features a MediaTek Helio A20 processor, 5.5″ HD+ display that works with gloves and when wet, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage (microSD card expansion), a 4,200 mAh battery, and ships with Android 10. It will receive Android 11 later this year.

In addition to coming with a 13MP rear camera/5MP front snapper, a 3.5mm jack, and Bluetooth 5.0, the phone is IP68 and IP69 certified, meaning you can submerge it in soapy water if required. It also survived 3,000 bleach wipe tests and has been tested with pressurized alcohol, various hand sanitizers, and other chemicals.

The S42 H+ will be priced at $299 when it arrives in the US this summer.