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Land Rover smartphone: smart car accessory

When Land Rover allowed its brand to be used on a smartphone, was it just a gimmick? ARTHIUR GOLDSTUCK makes a great discovery.

(All images by Arthur Goldstuck.)

The brand is iconic, but does it work on a phone? That is the first question most Land Rover drivers and fans ask when they hear about the Land Rover Explore “outdoor phone”. Even if it is a great phone, does it make sense both as a brand extension and as an accessory to the vehicle?

The best way to test the phone is, of course, in the natural habitat of the vehicle, namely the great outdoors. It so happens that Land Rover also launched its most high-tech vehicle yet, the new Discovery, in South Africa in the past year.

And it turns out the two make a beautiful pair. It helps that the vehicle comes with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, as long as the owner inserts an appropriate SIM card in the vehicle. 

It is also a forerunner to self-driving cars of the future, but with a neat off-road twist: the new Discovery comes with a feature called All-Terrain Progress Control, which allows the driver to hand control over to the vehicle when the terrain is difficult. The driver steers, but ATPC takes over all other functions, maintaining vehicle speed, managing braking, and applying torque to each wheel for  maximum traction. 

In this way it automatically optimises all vehicle control activities related to getting over the terrain in question. In future, such abilities will extend to steering as well, and suddenly that doesn’t seem to be such a great leap.

The styling of the phone evokes the LandRover design heritage.

On regular roads, as with most advanced vehicles today, Land Rover’s Autonomous Emergency Braking system spots potential collisions and applies brakes automatically if an accident is anticipated. In short, a smart car.

Other advanced features include active lane control and adaptive cruise control, both predecessors to the full autonomy that self-driving cars will have in future. But Land Rover adds its typical edge to such feature sets, with Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control reminding one that the car is designed for more than just the regular tar road.

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