This Odd Smartphone From 2016 Has One Feature Your New Phone Definitely Doesn't Have

According to its website, Caterpillar Inc., or Cat, is "the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment." Aside from the hulking dump trucks, dozers, graders, and shovels, it also makes much smaller products bearing the black and yellow "Cat" logo.

In fact, it makes everything from toy versions of its heavy equipment to shoes, knives, flashlights, hard hats, and cell phones. But Cat cellphones are much more rugged and durable than the delicate Android or iPhone you likely have tucked away in your pocket, because they weren't designed to function in the chaos of a construction site.

The company released its first smartphones in 2012, designed and built by the England-based Bullitt Group. In 2016, though integrated thermal imaging tech was available on various handheld devices, Cat was the first to embed it on a phone. It was made by Teledyne FLIR.

The camera housed inside the S60 was inspired by Flir's Lepton thermal imaging sensor, the same found in the Flir One thermal camera. The original sensor's sensitivity and range could measure and distinguish temperatures across a 252-degree range, beginning at minus four.

Nothing could hide from this smartphone

The phone's standard camera was used in conjunction with FLIR's onboard Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging (MSX) technology to create visual images instead of blurry signatures on screen to show an approximation of what was throwing off heat.

As CNET noted, it took anywhere between 10 and 15 seconds to fire up the app, so it couldn't exactly be used in heat of the moment. However, it had nine color filters that improved temperature visibility across the spectrum, and, as one might expect — could take photos and videos. Additional details could be seen in the images by using FLIR's Tools app.

Besides the heat-seeking feature, that first S60 had a MIL-STD-810G rating and was durable enough to work after being dropped from six feet. Moreover, its International Protection rating of 68 (IP68) allowed it to survive being submerged up to an hour. It was as close to indestructible as phones got.

Since then, other companies like Ulefone and Blackview have thrown their hats into the thermal imaging phone ring, and Cat still makes its line of S6x phones (S60, S61, and S62). FLIR One is now on its third generation.