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Land Rover's Explore phone won't flake out on a mountain hike

Like the outdoors? Like your technology to function properly in the outdoors? Take a look at the Land Rover Explore with AR, crazy battery and premium maps to boot.

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The Land Rover Explore is built to weather the snowstorm.

Dom Daher/Bullitt

Ever had your phone battery flake out on you because it caught a chill? You're not alone.

On the surface, the modern smart phone is the ideal tool for the outdoor adventurer -- it's got maps, cameras, a clock, a compass, a torch and its lifeline to the civilised world. But the reality is that when you're out in the elements, most phones out there prove kinda wimpy.

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Enter the Land Rover Explore. This rugged phone, built by British manufacturer Bullitt, is a device for people who need something that won't conk out them at the first sign of a rainstorm or blizzard.

Design cues pay homage to the Land Rover Discovery through the speaker grille, the grooves on the back, which mirror those on the car's roof, and the headlight effect around the camera. But Bullitt insists that this is not just a phone for car lovers -- it is a phone for those who love the outdoors.

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The speaker grille is borrowed from the Discovery.

Katie Collins/CNET

At its heart lies a 4,000mAh battery, which has been tested at the top of Mount Snowdon and the Bavarian Alps for reliability. "This is where you learn how the phone is going to respond," Bullitt chief branding officer Charlie Henderson told me.

When it comes to interface, the Explore is as close to Vanilla Android as possible (it arrives running Nougat, but an Oreo upgrade is planned). One thing Bullitt has built in is a dashboard with access to advanced weather metrics through the on-board barometer. It also has an SOS torch and night red filter (to stop your eyes from being affected by your phone light in the dark) easily accessible from the pull-down menu.

The phone undergoes the same drop tests and boasts the same IP68 waterproof rating as the Cat phones, which are also made by Bullitt. But whereas the people who buy Cat phones are largely male and working in manual jobs, the Land Rover Explore is designed to fit much more easily into the day-to-day life of someone who works in an office during the week but heads to the hills at the weekend.

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A number of accessory packs are available.

Katie Collins/CNET

To that end, the Explore has a range of accessory options, which are designed to take the phone from soft to hard adventure in an instant. These accessories take the form of packs -- one that boosts the battery, one that allows it to easily attach to the handlebars of a bike, and the adventure pack, which combines extra battery, a patch antenna and views of the local topography in augmented reality courtesy of ViewRanger.

The antenna offers a more advanced version of GPS than is available in the average phone -- it's more like that of a proper sat-nav. To take advantage of this, the adventure pack comes with a premium maps voucher that you can use to purchase digital versions of advanced local maps (such as Ordnance Survey maps in the UK).

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ViewRanger's AR view is exactly what you need in a whiteout.

Bullitt

This sounds like the kind of feature you wouldn't want to miss out on if you're keen on the Land Rover Explore. Fortunately the adventure pack will come bundled with the phone when it launches in Europe this April for £599 or 649 euros.

A US launch is on the cards (£599 is about $835), although details are not currently available. No mention was made of availability in Australia, but its UK price converts to about AU$1,050. Further product partnerships between Land Rover and Bullitt are in the pipeline, with tablet and IOT projects mentioned.

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