Rugged smartphones are often lacking in two crucial departments – looks and performance.
While the handsets are able to take a knock, a dip or withstand a small dirt devil, this ruggedness often means manufacturers have to pull back on specs and make the handset chunkier.
So when the Crosscall Trekker-X4 (we’re going to call it the Trekker from here on out) happened upon our desk we were awestruck at how good the thing looks. Seriously, look at this puppy.
Okay enough gawking, who the hell is Crosscall?
The brand was founded in 2009 in France. The firm created the world’s first floating smartphone with the SHARK in 2012.
Thankfully the brand has refined itself over the years and the Trekker is the culmination of that refinement.
Usually we like to look at the technical specs before we move on to other areas but the Trekker’s rugged nature warrants a look
The handset boasts an IP68 dust and water resistance and its durability earns it a MIL STD 80 G certification.
Despite being a rugged phone we’d call the exterior of the Trekker sleek. While there are thick bezels around the display, we’re mindful they are there to protect the handset should it take a tumble.
There are covers that protect the USB Type C charging port and 3.5mm headphone jack but aside from that the Trekker just looks like a beefed up smartphone.
Things get interesting however when we look at the camera setup.
There are two cameras in the Trekker and while they aren’t as advanced as something from the Samsung or Apple stable, they are worth mentioning.
The main camera in the array houses a 12MP sensor but the real selling point is the action camera. The action camera has a 170 degree ultrawide field of view. The quality is about what you would expect from an action camera and with the rugged nature of this handset it works rather well.
Okay, the SD card is a weird attachment as it doesn’t sit in the Trekker but rather magnetically attaches to the rear of the handset with a proprietary connector. Without the SD card attachment you’ll get 64GB of storage.
It’s strange and warrants an additional purchase, as do all the X-Links but the X-Blocker, comes in the box.
The camera itself is great though. Crosscall has created its own image stabilisation in Hyperstab.
The stabilisation is meant to be used while you’re biking or scaling the face of a cliff. We tried to simulate this with some wild hand gestures and all we can say is wow.
Hyperstab only works in the X-Cam app that comes pre-installed on the Trekker but it works damn well and if you’re itching for an action camera, the experience is superb and you aren’t sacrificing your main camera for the stability, fish-eye and wide-angle lens.
Right, so on to the performance of this rugged handset which is traditionally where these smartphones fall short.
Inside the Trekker you’ll find a Snapdragon 660 system-on-chip with the CPU running at 1.84GHz (2.21GHz boost) with 4GB of RAM alongside it. Single core performance comes in at 342 points in Geekbench 5 with multi-core at a respectable 1 434 points.
Translating that into “how does it feel to use terms” the handset is rather sluggish when opening apps and using them. It’s not especially slow but if you’re moving from a premium smartphone you will notice how sluggish it is.
A bit more RAM would be nice.
The Trekker also features a number of sensors it uses to feed you information.
There is a temperature sensor, a compass and a few extras such as a barometer, altimeter, light meter and much more. These apps are rather accurate and we can see them being especially useful for outdoorsy types.
The battery in the Trekker is a 4 400mAh affair and the smartphone sips power. We have noted a battery life of 15 hours from the Trekker.
Charging the handset back up to full takes just over 90 minutes but the battery does get rather warm as it charges.
There is support for wireless charging as well but our Qi charger is currently on the fritz so we aren’t able to test out how quickly wireless charging happens.
The performance is good but it’s the Trekker’s other features that really make it unique.
The Trekker offers middling performance but its the sensors and the action camera that really make it a tempting proposal.
Mind you, the rugged nature of the handset is also appealing but we’ll admit this is a niche feature that won’t appeal to everybody.
Of course that is the point of a rugged smartphone and the Trekker is less focused on being a workhorse and is instead meant to be a tool for recreation in the great outdoors.
As a tool for a surfer, mountain climber, trail biker, runner, hell anybody that sits outdoors more than they do indoors, the Trekker is perfect for them.
However, we’ve skirted around a rather important aspect of the handset, its price.
The Trekker costs a cool R12 999 which is rather pricey.
However, unlike other rugged smartphones the Trekker has a few additional features that sure are tempting. The action camera is nice though not as great as a stand alone iteration.
The sensors are good and useful as well.
To be frank it’s rather great and if you’re in the market for a rugged smartphone, the Trekker is well worth a consideration and money.