Luxury cars once came with bulky, built-in factory cell phones that couldn’t be removed. Then automakers tried hawking portable branded phones, until everyone owned a smartphone. Now, Land Rover is trying a branded smartphone that asks, “Does anyone want to go on a hike?”
Land Rover’s Explore is an Android smartphone designed to be as rugged as the legendary British SUVs. It’s an ordinary-looking device with some silver accents and Land Rover logos, almost like a larger version of the company’s key fob. At an expected $800, it’s no $17,000 Vertu wrapped in Bentley leather. (And it will not be sold in the United States.) But it’s supposed to be resistant to water, dust, mud, shocks, low batteries, and poor GPS reception.
The company promises a 4000 milliamp-hour battery (that’s about 25-percent more capacity than an iPhone X) with an optional snap-on 3600-mAh battery. The entire phone is IP68-rated, an electronics standard that dictates it can survive a 1.5-meter (4.9-foot) dip in water for 30 minutes. The 5.0-inch display is coated with Gorilla Glass and able to withstand a nearly six-foot drop without shattering. A host of accessories, including a carabiner hook, external GPS antenna, and bike mount, are available.
But most of those outdoorsy accessories can be bought for a conventional phone; even the ViewRanger outdoor navigation can be downloaded on the Apple and Android app stores. And Land Rover, for all its adventure cred, still can’t provide customers with reliably functioning electronics in its vehicles. On the plus side, the Explore is relatively affordable, and Land Rover doesn’t make the phone. And we kind of like the idea of showering in a five-star hotel while scrolling Instagram, which, let’s face it, is more like what Land Rover owners actually do.