It may look clean, but your smartphone is full of germs. Now, a fully antimicrobial Android device is on its way.

The UK-based Bullitt Group is releasing the CAT S42, which can be regularly washed with soap and water, sanitizers, and even bleach.

antimicrobial phone.

The CAT S42 Android phone can be washed regularly.

Image: Bullitt Group

In a few weeks, a new phone, the CAT S42 touted as the first antimicrobial/antibacterial, will be released. There's certainly a need for one, even if you don't realize it. Americans view their phones 52 times a day. Like everyone else, you may be super attached to your phone, psychologically and literally, as you take your smartphone with you in your car, while shopping, while sleeping, and yes, while in the bathroom

Bluntly, even if it's not readily visible, phones are gross. A study on the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) site found a high median bacterial count on secondary students' mobile phones was more than 17,000 per single phone.

If that's not icky enough, an even more recent, and larger report found not only the presence of bacteria on all phones in 56 studies but also  fungi.  Now, more than ever, it's critical to frequently wash your hands, and continually sanitize, as COVID-19 dominant variants emerge

The report reviewed targeted organisms: Isolated bacteria, fungi and viruses.  "Mobile phones have a high frequency of use, are often in contact with our hands and faces, and while in operation, can often heat up to temperatures that favour the survival and possibly growth of microorganisms. Combined with the fact that cleaning and disinfection of mobile phones is not a common practice with up to 72% of mobile phone users never washing their devices. It is likely that they constitute a suitable fomite, meaning an inanimate platform with microbial contamination." 

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The "scoping review" on mobile phones "did not directly address the issue of SARS-CoV-2 responsible for COVID-19, this work exposes the possible role of mobile phones as a 'Trojan horse' contributing to the transmission of microbial infections in epidemics and pandemics."

It's just the right time for what global licensee Bullitt Group refers to as "the first antibacterial phone," the CAT S42. Its entire exterior component has been treated with Addmaster Biomaster antimicrobial tech and its screen is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 5s, which has been treated with Biomaster.

Biomaster and the CAT phone ensure the Android device can be thoroughly and regularly washed with soaps and water, sanitizers, and even bleach.

The Biomaster active antimicrobial agent inhibits bacteria cells from replicating, in testing a reduction of over 80% within 15 minutes was shown and 99.9% within 24 hours. The Bullitt Group describes the Cat S42 as "the next generation of hygienic product protection in smartphone design."

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Image: Bullitt Group

"Throughout 2020 we have consistently been driving awareness of the importance of mobile hygiene for us all, but this is vital for those among our customers working within a health or social care setting and those visiting multiple sites for their job," said Peter Cunningham, vice president product portfolio at Bullitt Group, in a press release.

"Using a CAT phone already allows [users to] wash and sanitize their CAT phone regularly or between visits. The addition of antimicrobial product protection into the CAT S42 is another first for CAT phones and will make the CAT S42 more hygienic for users, such an important feature in the current climate."

The Biomaster-treated CAT S42 is the first of a series of devices in the Bullitt Group phones range with antimicrobial technology, with others coming later in the year. The CAT S42, a Google Android 10 (with upgrade to 11), will retail for $300, has been drop tested up to 6 feet onto steel, with a "super bright" 5.5" HD+display, 4200 mAh battery and 1.8GHz quadcore processor. 

More antimicrobial phone news: Thursday, Mitel announced its antimicrobial Mitel 6920t and 6930t IP phones built from plastics protected with BioCote antimicrobial technology. The devices feature plastics with surfaces that are treated with a silver-based compound that when tested against certain viruses and bacteria is shown to inhibit their growth by up to 99.9 percent, said Mitel, which redesigned the handset areas that present the highest risk of potential dirt, germ and grime collection to make the handset easier to clean by removing ribs on the back side of the handset, eliminating crevices from the microphone grille, and hard-wiring the cord to the handset to eliminate the jack receptacle.

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By N.F. Mendoza

N.F. Mendoza is a writer at TechRepublic and based in Los Angeles. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Cinema Critical Studies and a Master's of Professional Writing, both from USC. Nadine has more than 20 years experience as a journalist coveri...