If you’re heading out into the sticks in your Land Rover, whether its a brand-new Discovery or a classic Defender, you’ll likely want a great phone in your pocket in case you get a bit lost. If you prefer something more rugged than an iPhone X or a Pixel 2, how about a phone by Land Rover itself? That’s the Land Rover Explore, a tough phone that takes inspiration for its headline feature from the Motorola Moto Mods range — but with an outdoor twist.
The Land Rover Explore isn’t actually made by Land Rover. It’s made by Bullitt, a British phone maker known for its expertise in the area of both rugged phones and big-name licenses, because it also produces CAT, and JCB-branded devices, along with those for Kodak, too. The partnership between Land Rover and Bullitt was announced in early 2016, so the resulting phone has been a long time coming. Was it worth the wait?
It’s definitely intriguing. The idea, like Moto Mods, is to add modules to the basic phone and increase functionality. Initially, the Land Rover Explore will come with one module called the Adventure Pack, which works like a separate, more powerful GPS unit, complete with its own battery, and ViewRanger’s mapping app installed on the phone. ViewRanger will also add its Skyline augmented reality feature that works in conjunction with the phone’s camera to identify local geographical features. ViewRanger isn’t a stranger to partnerships like this either, having also worked with Casio on the Pro Trek Android Wear smartwatch.
Other modular packs are likely to be introduced, although no plans have been revealed by Bullitt or Land Rover yet. Modular phones live or die by the availability of these additional packs, and failure to launch more could see the Explore go the way of the LG G5. The phone’s main specification hasn’t been detailed either, although a body that reaches military standards of toughness, and an IP68 water resistance rating seem likely. Bullitt says it will deal with all temperatures, heavy drops, and even salt water.
In its design, you can spot references to the new Land Rover Discovery, including the look of the vehicle’s headlights and grille, along with the style of the instrument binnacle and dials. It doesn’t look like the most compact of smartphones with the Adventure Pack fitted, and we don’t know how it will integrate with the phone yet either. All should be made clear at Mobile World Congress at the end of February, when we will see the phone for real. Bullitt says the Land Rover Explore will be available to order in April and will cost 600 British pounds or 650 euros. That’s around $855, but no official U.S. price has been stated.
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