Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

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Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby parzley » 9 Oct 2018, 8:07pm

I'd like some recommendations for a waterproof mobile phone for touring.
I've been using an iPhone 4S for 6 years, with a Lifeproof waterproof case, but the case is no longer waterproof, and the phone is ancient. It's time to buy a new phone. What I need is:

A properly waterproof Android phone (iPhones are too expensive)
A good handlebar mount must be available (without an extra case - just the phone directly in the mount)
It must be reasonably robust
It must run the usual apps for navigation (so must have GPS, for example)

It would be great if:

It is waterproof even when a charging cable is plugged in (I charge from a dynamo when I'm on the move)
The battery lasted exceptionally well between charges (I camp when I tour, and like to rely exclusively on the dynamo to charge the phone)
It was miserly in its use of power when running the GPS
It didn't cost more than £200, but I realise I may need to spend more

Your help would be very much appreciated.

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Re: Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby Bonefishblues » 9 Oct 2018, 8:29pm

Even if 'waterproof' (check the IP ratings), invest in a new waterproof case.

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Re: Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby Psamathe » 9 Oct 2018, 8:31pm

Without wanting to start an iPhone better/android better, don't reject the iPhone because 2nd hand ones are quite a lot cheaper ...

I took my waterproof iPhone on tour but in a top of the range case (for physical protection). When I got home the case was "in a bad way"; the transparent screen protection was difficult to see through and the metal case side and tough plastic bottom was badly scratched-up. And it was not abused though probably needs replacing!

Not saying "go iPhone" but do have a look at 2nd hand units as they are valid options when making your choice.

Apple do sell re-conditioned units online but I've always found them still quite expensive so never used them (but I've only looked at iPads/Macs).

Edit: I would agree with about about not trusting a phone waterproof rating (phones are expensive things). Double check the weasel words in the guarantees as well.

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Re: Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby Warin61 » 10 Oct 2018, 12:12am

I don't think you'll find one that is 'waterproof' while being charged. Well at least if the charging is done with a connector rather than these magnetic field things.

So if you need to charge it on the move then I'd put it in a 'waterproof' case. When the case leaks there will be a little pool of water in the bottom.. mop that up and your good to go again.

Battery life can be extended by turning thing off that you are not using. Like the phone function itself - go into plane mode and the cell phone transmit will stop and you'll save a fair amount of battery power. As you will by turning off wifi and bluetooth. Of course if you must have the GPS turned on then do so. However I find turning it off will still have the map visible and you can manually pan around and still search for stuff. What you miss it the track and being able to route, for those you have to turn on the GPS. Oh .. and turning down the screen brightness helps too .. but then you cannot see it in bright sunlight.

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Re: Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby AndyK » 10 Oct 2018, 12:50am

I've been using a chunky Evolveo D2 rugged Android phone for several years, strapped to the bars with a "Finn" elastic strap, while a friend has been using their G4 model (slightly larger) for the same period. Mine's survived all sorts of scrapes, though there are now some lines of dead pixels on the display after I catapulted it onto tarmac (not dropped, catapulted) from handlebar height for the second time. The screen didn't crack, though, so it's still waterproof!

Its major drawback is that the touch-screen goes haywire in the rain, which is annoying to say the least. There's nothing to indicate that Evolveo has fixed that in its latest models. A lesser annoyance is that it doesn't have an internal compass, so when you stop moving it doesn't know which way you're pointing.

The battery lasts so long that I have never needed to top up the charge while on the move, even after 10+ hours on the road with the display switched on nearly all the time and navigation apps running, so I can't comment on the risk of rain getting into the USB port while charging. The USB plug is a very tight fight into the rubber surround, so I guess that helps reduce the risk I only use it for navigation and emergencies, though - I carry a "normal" smartphone for calls and messaging.

Evolveo is a Czech brand, though obviously the phones are made in China like everyone else's. Updated models with newer versions of Android are available.

The "Cat" brand rugged phone range is more expensive but boasts "wet finger touch" which allegedly means that the screen can differentiate between wet fingers and raindrops. The phones seem to get good reviews for that, though less so for their performance. If I were buying a new rugged phone for navigation now, I'd probably pay the extra for a Cat. The Cat S30, for instance, is a little outdated now but can be picked up for under £200 sim-free. Add about £40 for its successor, the S31.

I've mostly switched over to using my new Wahoo Elemnt Bolt for navigating pre-designed routes, though the Evolveo still comes out when I'm exploring and designing new routes.

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Re: Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby Bez » 10 Oct 2018, 6:13am

The iPhone 7 (which is waterproof, though I don't have one and haven't tested that claim) is £249 on the Giffgaff marketplace (used but with a 6 month warranty).

Or if you're happy to continue with a waterproof case, the SE starts at £99 at the same marketplace.

If you want properly rugged, take a look at the Ulefone Armor 5. I've not used or seen one but the specs are impressive and the price is keen. Though I think they're only available via the direct import market—I may be wrong.

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Re: Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby DevonDamo » 11 Oct 2018, 10:59pm

The Sony Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact phones are waterproof, and has a waterproof usb charging socket and earphone jack. (The Z3 and Z1 phones were also waterproof but relied on watertight doors to seal the usb charging/data socket.) I have the Compact as it fits into my pocket easily but has the same battery size as its bigger brother, so this lasts for ages. It's a very high-end phone so can run any software you throw at it.

You can get these second hand, very cheaply on eBay. Only problem is that, like most phones, the waterproofing can fail, especially if someone's dropped it and replace a panel. Sony have included a pressure sensor in this phone, which means you can test whether it's still watertight. To do this, just google 'how to enter xperia z5 service menu' and follow the instructions.

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Re: Which waterproof mobile phone for touring?

Postby boris » 21 Oct 2018, 11:47pm

I wonder if this is the time to spend hundreds on a super phone .

I would take an old phone that works; with osmand and brouter on it and a lot of gpx routes downloaded ready to use on difficult bits. Waterproofing is effected by a cover of some sort or a small roll of thin plastic bags that you knot when the phone is in and needs it. Or condoms are best, but in these prim times that attracts ribald remarks, i find.

If the old phone gets traumatised you have lost little, so no need to worry about it ; you can just use it as you want.