Smartphones are getting better and better, and in many cases have replaced a dedicated GPS unit. However, the lack of ruggedness, not to mention the chances of leaving it on a gatepost or more than likely it running out of battery, means that if you do get into trouble on a walk, you might well have lost the ability to achieve communication. You know the situation, setting off from home with 80% charge which soon dwindles to 50% after using online mapping and taking a few photos. Half way through the walk it’s suddenly down to 15% and you’re hoping there’s enough juice left until you get back to civilisation.
A dumbphone won’t have internet connectivity, that means no mapping, no social media, no Whatsapp. It doesn’t even need a SIM card – though read on to see why this may be useful.
There’s plenty of choice out there at the bottom end of the market – you can get an Alcatel 2038X for around twenty quid, or a Doro 5516 for thirty. However, the battery life on these is unremarkable.
The Cat B30 and B35 are super-rugged and boast great battery life – you may get week out of it, or half a day of talking.
However, the Nokia 3310 has been known to be still going after a MONTH, and giving a full day of talk-time. You can pick them up for less than £50, compared to £75+ for the Cats.
As mentioned, there’s no need to put a SIM in, as if you are making an emergency call, any of the handsets will try and use the nearest mobile tower regardless of network. However, given that in a minor emergency, you may wish to phone a friend or family member instead of dialling 999, it’s worth popping a SIM in, even if to ask them to bail you out when you are miles from the car in the driving rain.
You will probably still want to take your smartphone along – it’s just that you might not want to rely on it.