Epic journeys need epic equipment. Conditions don’t get more extreme than when you’re travelling to the ends of the earth to tackle plummeting temperatures and the inclement conditions that polar expeditions will throw at you.
For the adventurous spirits among us, the North and South Poles hold as much magic and wonder as ever – which is why two of the world’s most daring pioneers will both be setting off to write their names into the history books once again. Britain’s greatest modern-day explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, will next March attempt to lead the first party to ever travel to the South Pole on skis in the dead of winter. At the other end of the earth, Chillisauce ultra-runner Tim Williamson wants to be the first man to complete a solo trip to the North Pole and back, without support or even skis.
Journeys such as this of course require meticulous planning, the highest quality equipment and the ability to stay in touch with those supporting you from warmer climes. If Fiennes and Williamson have inspired you to head out into sub-zero temperatures to explore the world’s unspoilt lands, then here are four phones perfect for extreme adventures.
Staying cool shouldn’t be too difficult for Tim Williamson when he’s trekking through the sub-zero surroundings of the North Pole. But he’ll want to look the part too so having the world’s most desirable smartphone in his hand is sure to help. The larger display is perfect for frosty fingers while the built-in weather reports should help you prepare for the worst. It features HD cameras both front and back, perfect for filming video messages or shooting breathtaking footage. The main 8 megapixel camera also has a dynamic low-light mode, which will suit the wintry conditions and lack of sunlight for both explorers. Plus, with a range of hardy cases designed with extreme sports enthusiasts in mind, you won’t need to worry about damage to its otherwise brittle body.
As is common with a new iPhone release, battery life has come in for some criticism and the Antarctic is somewhat lacking in charging points to plug it in. Plus, the new Lightning connector means that Sir Ranulph will need an adaptor if he wants to plug it into his old iPhone speakers for blasting out those campfire tunes at night. And if staying on course is crucial to your mission, then you might want to download a better map app than the much-criticised native version which even provoked a humbling apology from Apple itself.
How can we not include a phone with a name like that in this list? Luckily the HTC Explorer is made of sturdy stuff too, to reflect its name. It may be something of an entry-level smartphone but it is a lot more ‘drop-proof’ than the iPhone. Its rubber back should protect it from being dropped on the ice, a few times at least.
If you are visiting landscapes that other people only dream of seeing, then you are going to want to capture some memorable photographs. The HTC Explorer’s budget design, however, means that its 3.1 megapixel camera doesn’t stack up next to the crystal clear images which can be snapped on more powerful models.
Billed as the world’s toughest smartphone, the Nautiz X1 is manufactured in Sweden, a country on the fringe of the Arctic Circle, so it is pretty much made for surviving extreme adventures. Measured against military standards, it is designed to endure extreme temperatures, dust, sand and being dropped, while it can also take being dunked in water. It doesn’t scrimp on operating power either, with a 1GHz dual-core processor plus GSM, Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity to keep you in contact with the camp.
Getting hold of one might be your first tricky challenge, they are not the most readily available devices and the X1 model is scheduled to ship until January, but that should still be plenty of time for Sir Ranulph, if the $900 price tag doesn’t put him off of course.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Active
Water-resistant, scratch-proof and it even lets you scroll the screen with wet fingers. It is also pre-loaded with a variety of fitness apps including iMapMyFitness+ to help with your training regime to make sure you’re in tip-top condition for your polar adventure and comes with an armband for hands-free running, keeping track of you with GPS. And if you were in any doubt about its ability to work in cold and wet conditions, then check out this footage of the Xperia Active continuing to film underwater after being tossed through the ice.
This chunky phone is designed to be durable but it lags behind other models when it comes to its camera and display screen. It also looks a bit more like a toy phone than an ultra-modern communication device for high-tech adventurers, but you’re unlikely to care too much about that when you’re trudging through the snow. Its small size also means a slightly smaller battery which means you’ll be looking to recharge it at every opportunity.