Outdoor cell phone: What you should consider when buying
Reliable function even under extreme conditions – in summary, these are the strengths of an outdoor cell phone. They survive water splashes, bumps and falls from a height that would not leave much of a normal cell phone. Scratches or dirt and dust don’t bother the robust devices. And even high temperatures don’t make a real outdoor cell phone sweat, just like deep sub-zero temperatures in freezing cold and extreme temperature changes. Some outdoor cell phones are even completely waterproof. However, you should find out more about this before you go swimming with your phone.
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Are you interested in an outdoor cell phone, but still have no idea which model you want? Then we provide you in this guide with the most important information and give you tips for the purchase to hand.
An outdoor cell phone for everyone?
It quickly becomes clear for whom an outdoor cell phone is suitable when you take a look at the features. You ride your mountain bike a lot or go hiking? Then an outdoor cell phone is the perfect companion – in the forest or on the mountain, whether the sun is shining or rain is falling. The devices are best suited for hikers, cyclists, climbers, extreme athletes, construction workers, gardeners and all other people who spend a lot of time outdoors. But there are also limitations that the outdoor cell phone user has to accept: One should not expect many multimedia features, such as in the latest iPhones. Outdoor cell phones tend to place more emphasis on other things, such as stability, battery life and the best possible reception.
One of the most important advantages of outdoor cell phones is that they are usually dustproof, waterproof and shockproof. They can therefore withstand much more than conventional cell phones. Another advantage is the long battery life. Most outdoor cell phones are equipped with larger batteries that last longer than those of cell phones or smartphones for normal users. So you don’t have to worry about your phone dying because of a dead battery even during longer outdoor activities or in remote areas.
Some outdoor phones have additional features like GPS and GLONASS to help your navigation in rough terrain. And many models have special buttons or switches that let you call for help quickly and easily in emergencies.
Do outdoor cell phones also have disadvantages?
Of course, beyond the often reduced multimedia scope already mentioned, there are also some other disadvantages of outdoor cell phones. One of the biggest is that the devices tend to be larger and heavier than traditional cell phones. So they don’t fit as easily in your pocket or purse.
In addition, most outdoor cell phones are quite expensive. This is mainly because they are designed specifically for use in harsh conditions. Thus, they require higher quality materials and additional technology. If you have a limited budget, it can be difficult to find a good outdoor phone for that.
With or without a contract? And which tariff is best suited for an outdoor cell phone?
Outdoor cell phones, like conventional cell phones, are available for purchase in stores with or without the contract that goes with them. But what makes more sense?
We generally recommend a model with a suitable mobile phone contract. The reason for this is that outdoor cell phones make different demands on the rate plan than conventional models due to the additional functions. Of course, a generous data plan is recommended for using the smartphone outdoors. It is possible to use the phone without live data transmission, but most apps are only really functional with a permanent or at least partial Internet connection. Navigation options and the like are usually Internet-dependent – and if not, the offline map material has to be purchased separately.
Of course, a contract with inexpensive data offers is recommended for the corresponding data consumption. But even among the prepaid rates, there are now some that can definitely be called “data-friendly”. The amount of data required depends on the intensity and type of use. But you should already have enough with a few gigabytes of volume per month to be able to regularly use the necessary outdoor apps.
What does IP certification mean for outdoor phones?
The so-called IP certification indicates for an outdoor cell phone how well the device is protected against environmental influences. The abbreviation “IP” stands for “Ingress Protection”, and the corresponding certification consists of two numbers, each of which indicates a degree of protection.
The first digit indicates the protection against the ingress of solids, such as dust, and ranges from 0 to 6. A 0 means that the device does not offer any protection against solids, while a 6 means that de facto no dust can penetrate. The second digit indicates protection against liquid penetration and ranges from 0 to 9. A 0 means that the device offers no protection against liquids, while a 9 says that it is even protected against high-pressure and steam jet cleaning.
An outdoor phone with an IP certification of at least IP67 is suitable for use in harsh environments such as hiking or outdoor sports. An IP67-certified device is dustproof and can be submerged in water up to one meter deep for up to 30 minutes. A higher IP rating usually means the device is more resistant to environmental conditions. However, if you plan to use the device in extreme environments such as deserts or polar regions, you should opt for a device with a particularly high certification such as IP68 or IP69K.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors and maybe even have a hobby like hiking, hunting or climbing, a dedicated outdoor phone is the right choice for you. It supports you in orienting and navigating and does not mind getting dirty or wet. You will certainly accept the (few) disadvantages!
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