Land Rover is one of the most world’s most iconic car brands and it’s decided to capitalize on this by… releasing a phone? Someone, somewhere, please strike me down.
Yep, the company recently announced the Land Rover Explore R, a device that only makes sense if your business plan is to sell it to people who know nothing about smartphones. Which, to be honest, is probably written on a chalkboard somewhere in Jaguar Land Rover HQ.
So, history. I actually discovered that the Land Rover Explore R is the second phone its released, with the original Explore traumatising the world in 2018.
Anyway, let’s talk about the new model, the Explore R.
First things first, the design. The Land Rover Explore R is supposedly influenced by the company’s new Defender. In fact, Jon Sinclair — the business’ Director of Branded Goods and Licensing — says “the Explore R perfectly reflects [the] new Land Rover Defender.”
Which is interesting, because I had no idea Land Rover‘s new vehicle was an iPhone 4 rip-off:
Okay, so it’s not identical to Apple’s old-ass device, but it is pretty close:
The point I’m making here is the Land Rover Explore R doesn’t look modern like a modern phone. But maybe that’s okay, because the phone’s major selling point is its durability and outdoor-readiness.
Let’s use some bullet points to get the information across quickly. According to the company, the Land Rover Explore R:
- Has an IP68 waterproof rating, meaning it can last up to 1.5m underwater for 35 minutes
- Is dust- and sand-proof
- Has been drop tested at 1.8m onto steel
- Has a screen made from Gorilla Glass 6
This all sounds good, but that feeling fades away when you look at the device’s other stats:
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB ROM
- A Mediatek Helio P35 MT 6765 chipset with a 2.3GHz octa-core processor
- Sony dual pixel 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
- 7” display
And — aaaaaaand — it costs £399 or €449 (which comes to around $537). That’s not an unreasonable amount of money, but when you compare it to something like the OnePlus Nord (which for $400 has better specs in almost every department), the Land Rover Explorer R phone is clearly out of its depth.
But the plot thickens. Why would you buy this device over more renowned makers of rugged phones, like Doogee or Blackview? I mean, fuck, if you were a real outdoors person, wouldn’t you just use dedicated machinery? Like proper GPS trackers? And maps? Rather than a phone from a car maker?
The only target market is the one I think most advertisers go after: wealthy and easily influenced.
Land Rover is especially popular amongst well-off suburban and city dwellers, many of whom are sold on its “rugged” and “real” branding. It’s not a wild leap of the imagination to think the company could make some cash pushing these underpowered devices onto people with too much money, not enough sense, and a desire to be tough.
Maybe I’m too pessimistic. Maybe it’s going to be a great phone. Maybe people will love it. And maybe the big brains at Land Rover know exactly what they’re doing releasing a goddamn phone.
Or maybe none of that will happen and it’s just a glorious, glorious mess. Yeah, that.
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Published September 1, 2020 — 13:12 UTC