Home » Crazy Outdoor Cell Phones: Thermal Imaging, Battery Beast, Monster Sound & Walkie-Talkie

Crazy Outdoor Cell Phones: Thermal Imaging, Battery Beast, Monster Sound & Walkie-Talkie

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Crazy Outdoor Cell Phones: Thermal Imaging, Battery Beast, Monster Sound & Walkie-Talkie

Outdoor mobile phones and outdoor smartphones are considered niche products. Nevertheless, they enjoy great popularity among many buyers. This is primarily due to the robust workmanship, which is designed to withstand falls, knocks, moisture and so on. In addition, outdoor smartphones are often comparatively cheap. Because it is rare to find high-end hardware in the survivors. Manufacturers are usually content with mid-range technology. First of all, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, after all, even mid-range smartphones often do an excellent job in everyday life. This is confirmed by our top 10 list: smartphones up to 300 euros – everything a smartphone needs.

The special thing about outdoor mobile phones and outdoor smartphones: They often come with extraordinary functions that you won’t find on a normal smartphone. These include thermal imaging cameras, night vision options, very loud loudspeakers, barometers, extremely large batteries or even walkie-talkies in order to be able to communicate independently of the cell phone network. In this buyer’s guide, we show what the market has to offer in terms of bizarre outdoor phones. If you are looking for the best outdoor cell phone in general, we recommend our Top 10 list: The best outdoor cell phones – robust, waterproof, night vision, radio & Co.

night vision camera

A night vision camera can take pictures in near total darkness. To do this, it uses infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. An infrared LED flash emits infrared light that reflects off surrounding objects. A sensor sensitive to this type of light receives the reflected light rays and converts them into an electronic signal to create the image. This image is usually presented in black and white because the sensor cannot extract color information from the infrared light.

This type of camera requires a small amount of residual light. However, it can also work in complete darkness if the infrared LED flash is strong enough or the object to be photographed is close enough.

A good example of an outdoor cell phone with a night vision camera is the AGM H5 Pro (test report). You can still take black and white photos with it, even in pitch-dark rooms.

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Thermal camera

A thermal imaging camera measures and interprets thermal radiation. Any object with a temperature above absolute zero emits infrared radiation. Infrared cameras create an image by measuring and interpreting this radiation. The colors of the final thermal image show different levels of warmth: warm areas appear in light colors (white and red), while colder areas appear in darker colors (blue and black).

The best-known and most widespread manufacturer of thermal imaging cameras is Flir, whose technology can be found in the vast majority of outdoor mobile phones with thermal imaging cameras. Well-known manufacturers of smartphones with thermal imaging cameras from Flir are Caterpillar, Ulefobe, Doogee, Blackview, Oukitel and AGM. However, there are also external solutions to equip your own smartphone with a thermal imaging camera. At less than 70 euros, the mini infrared camera on Aliexpress (purchase link) is particularly cheap and flexible.

In September 2022 we tested the AGM Glory G1S (test report) with integrated FLIR thermal imaging camera and night vision mode. The outdoor smartphone cost over 700 euros at the time. Now its price has dropped to a good 500 euros.

It has a shockproof, waterproof case with a martial look. It’s quite heavy at 315 grams, but it meets military standard MIL-STD-810H for its resistance to impact, sand, dirt, and extreme temperatures.

The main camera of the AGM Glory G1S uses a 48-megapixel Sony IMX 582 sensor and combines four pixels into one to produce around 12-megapixel images. The quality of the photos is decent in daylight, while the macro lens is not convincing due to its low resolution. Very unusual are the infrared lens and the thermal imaging camera, which make details visible even in the dark and can measure temperatures up to a distance of 5 meters.

The smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon 480 and offers sufficient performance for common everyday tasks as well as 5G. It has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage that can be expanded with a micro SD card. The battery has a capacity of 5500 mAh, which allows for just under 13 hours of operation.

Loud speakers

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Sure, all smartphones have speakers. But there are also outdoor cell phones like the AGM H5 Pro (test report) with particularly powerful 3.5 watt speakers. This has several advantages. On the one hand, the smartphone can play music around the campfire, for example, without droning quietly and barely audibly like a normal cell phone. The second advantage is of particular interest to outdoor enthusiasts. In emergency situations, for example, the loudspeaker can emit a clearly audible signal thanks to its size.

The AGM H5 Pro is such an outdoor smartphone with a particularly powerful 3.5-watt speaker. An infrared sensor for night shots is also on board. It has IP68/IP69K protection against water ingress, an impact-resistant body and a large battery.

Despite its robustness and its many features, the AGM H5 Pro has some weaknesses. The built-in speaker is very loud, but delivers poor sound quality and is therefore hardly suitable for playing music at high volumes. As an emergency signal, however, the loudspeaker serves its purpose.

The Ulefone Armor 21 also comes with a 3.5 watt speaker. It costs 230 euros on Aliexpress (purchase link). The smartphone with Android 13 is also extremely robust, has a huge 9600 mAh battery, a 6.6-inch display with 120 Hz, up to 16 GB of RAM and a 64-megapixel Sony camera sensor.

Monster Batteries

If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your smartphone, you also want it to last as long as possible with one battery charge. There are outdoor smartphones with particularly large batteries. Interestingly, these don’t even have to be expensive, as the Oukitel WP5 (Amazon purchase link), which costs just over 100 euros, proves. For its slim price, it offers an almost monstrously large battery with 8000 mAh. The rest of the equipment belongs to the entry-level class. However, if you want to be on the go with your smartphone for days without charging and want to save money, the Oukitel WP5 could be worth a look. The leader in terms of battery capacity is the Blackview BV7100 (test report) with an enormously high capacity of 13,000 mAh. The smartphone lasts around a week with moderate use.

walkie-talkies

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Anyone who is away from the smartphone network, for example in a remote mountain range, has no way of communicating with a normal mobile phone or smartphone. Two-way radios, also known as walkie-talkies, can help here. We explain more about this topic in the guide to emergency communication by radio – how does it work?

However, with such ventures, every gram of gear that you have to lug around often counts. There are smartphones that integrate a walkie-talkie. One of them is the Ulefone Armor 20WT (review). PMR radio integration enables push-to-talk communication without a cellular network. It comes with a 6-centimeter antenna, which is required for walkie-talkie operation. It can be unscrewed when not using the walkie-talkie function.

The Armor 20WT is dustproof and waterproof. It has a very long battery life thanks to a huge 10,850 mAh battery. This allows the device to operate for three to four days without charging. However, the smartphone is quite massive and almost as heavy as a tablet.

The device’s specifications are impressive for an outdoor smartphone in this price range, with a robust design, excellent battery life and a useful walkie-talkie function.

In addition to the Ulefone Armor WT20, the Unihertz Atom XL also has a walkie-talkie function. It costs 330 euros on Amazon (purchase link).

Barometer, Thermometer

The functions mentioned here show that manufacturers of outdoor mobile phones and outdoor smartphones are always coming up with something new to solve very specific problems and attract attention.

For example, there is an outdoor smartphone with an integrated thermometer in the form of the Ulefone Power Armor 18T on Aliexpress (purchase link). This measures, for example, the body temperature of small children, but also the temperature of any object from -20 degrees Celsius to 80 degrees Celsius.

The cheapest outdoor smartphones

Conclusion

Outdoor mobile phones and smartphones are very popular thanks to their robust workmanship, low price and exceptional outdoor functions. The exotics among them come with thermal imaging cameras, night vision options, particularly loud loudspeakers, barometers, extremely large batteries and even walkie-talkies for network-independent communication. They often offer a mid-level hardware configuration and are usually more affordable than their high-end counterparts.

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