Before the summer holidays, I already shared a preview and first impressions of the Land Rover Explore Smartphone. You can read all the relevant specifications and “promises” for this smartphone in that preview. This review, therefore, is only partly a recap and a final conclusion to our first impressions.
I used the Land Rover Explore under a wide variety of conditions and during different activities. From dust and heat on MTB rides and climbing routes in the Spanish Pyrenees, via hikes and camping in the Netherlands to wet hikes in the English Peak district and some lower morning temperatures in the Alps. The lowest temperatures were still above zero, it won’t be till November that I head over to the Alps again for temperatures hopefully below zero. When I do I will also update this review with that experience.
When looking at how “outdoor proof” the Explore is, I have considered specific characteristics that help the device withstand outdoor conditions.
How water resistant is it? The smartphone is not specifically meant to be used underwater, but with an IP (Ingression Protection) rating of 68 it can withstand more than 1 meter of water. I did test this and held the smartphone underwater at length and it continued to function perfectly. During my hike in the Peak District where it really rained heavily and I used the smartphone to fly a drone, it continued to function perfectly and I was able to continue to operate the touchscreen reasonably well. This is in contrast to my iPhone where at the slightest splash of water or a drop of sweat on the screen it won’t react to anything.
Can it stand dust/sand? Yes: no problems. My MTB rides in the Pyrenees where extremely dusty, and also on the beach of Spain no problem. The IP68 rating also means that it can completely withstand dust.
How does it handle extreme temperatures? As mentioned, how it does with really low temperatures remains to be seen (The promise is for a functioning phone up to -30 Celsius). I biked, walked and climbed with the phone at plus 35-40 degrees in the sun. When I accidentally left the phone in the sun, it became very hot and it had turned itself off. But I could turn it on again after a short while and did not cause permanent problems.
Can it take a beating? Absolutely. Especially with the case on (only possible when using it with the Adventure Pack on the Explore), it will take a tumble. The phone crashed to the rocks at speed on numerous occasions. No noticeable scratches on the Gorilla Glass 5 screen.
In conclusion, the Land Rover Explorer is really significantly better suited than eg an iPhone for your outdoor activities when it comes to its construction and robustness.
The battery runs out less quickly than my iPhone, but that is not really an accomplishment. (Nowadays I would be surprised at an iPhone that does boast great battery life). But because the Land Rover Phone has a magnetically attachable battery pack / Adventure Pack, the total battery life is certainly more than twice as long as that of a new iPhone. Furthermore, with the Adventure pack “ceramic patch GPS” the already strong GPS antenna of the smartphone is reinforced and helps track your position quite precisely.
Ease of Use
Once I got used to Android as an operating system, I became happier with the ease of use of the phone. Fast power-up, easy to operate with gloves on, the Adventure pack “sticks” on easily, and the carabiner on the protective case allow you to hang the smartphone on your backpack. Please note that if your ride really has the phone jumping around on the carabiner (this happened to me both in the Alps and the Pyrenees) then the clip with which the carabiner is attached to the case can sometimes come loose. Leaving your beautiful phone tumbling to the rocks on the trail behind you. If you do not notice and happily continue your ride, then you can enjoy a nice walk back up the trail to look for your phone. When that happened to me, I decided to stow the Explorer away for my heavier downhill sections.
But otherwise, that carabiner works really well, because the phone is within easy reach. With the same slot on the case in which you slide the carabiner, you can also use other mounts, eg to mount the smartphone on your handle bars. But once again be careful with how strong that connection is.
A small issue that did annoy me is the on and off button. The issue is relevant mainly in daily use when using the Explorer without Adventure pack and without the case. Then that button actually protrudes outwards a bit too much and is sometimes too sensitive. Resulting in the phone in your pocket suddenly turning on or off.
Size & Weight
Just a short final word on the size of the phone. Used without the Adventure pack the Explore is relatively large and heavy. With the Adventure pack and case, it becomes a 422-gram heavyweight. And it will become a bit difficult to use with one hand because of its girth.
In this review, we mainly looked at the specific and unique outdoor features of the smartphone. The features that make this smartphone really different from other smartphones. There are still a number of things that I would like to mention that you will also find on regular smartphones, (not unique to the Explore) but that helped improve the experience with the smartphone.
The View Ranger app is pre-installed on the smartphone. When purchasing the Land Rover Explore you get a voucher that you can use to buy maps in the store of the View Ranger app. Good maps with a lot of detail.
The app tracks very precisely and constantly, GPS signals are found very quickly and remain constant. It would seem that the GPS sensors in the Explore and the Adventure Pack work very well.
There is also an “Explore Hub” on the smartphone where the curators of the Bullit Group (the manufacturer of the Explore) select and collect the best outdoor apps for your specific sports. These are apps that can be used on any other smartphone, but it is quite convenient that someone else has collected them for you.
The Explore has 64 GB internal memory (lots of space) and a dual sim slot where you can insert your SIM card and an extra MicroSD.
The Land Rover Explore Smartphone is robust, strong and adapted to specific outdoor conditions. Also great to use in everyday life where it is not fancy schmancy does not have the highest photo/video specs or fastest processors. But it works as it should work. That you do not have to be careful with this smartphone, for me, is the big USP of the Explore.
For more info be sure to also check out the aforementioned preview and first impressions.
More info about the phone on Landroverexplore.com