The dedicated-GPS-versus-smartphone debate will continue, and everyone’s got their favourite way of logging and sharing their rides. Here’s another option: the Quechua Phone 5 from Decathlon, which retails at £199.99.
Dubbed “mountainproof” by the French giant, the Phone 5 has a 5-inch screen and is ruggedised to be able to take a few knocks when it’s out and about; you should be able to drop it from 1m without doing it any harm. It’s also IP54 rated. For those unaccustomed to IP ratings the first digit refers to the unit’s dust proofing (maximum of 6, which is dust-tight) and the second is waterproofing which goes all the way up to 9 (safe against high pressure jets). IP54 is dustproof enough that any dust that does get in shouldn’t stop the phone working, and it’s waterproof against ‘splashing of water’ - you shouldn’t drop it in the bath, but needn't worry about getting it damp. That’s a lower rating than the IP67 of many dedicated GPS units but should mean that it’s just dandy if you need to get it out in the rain. All the ports (USB, headphone, Micro SD and SIM card) are protected by covers to seal them against the elements.
That 5” screen has a resolution of 840x480 pixels, less than some phones that go right up to 1920x1080 HD but equally a whole lot more than a dedicated GPS; Garmin’s Edge 810, for example, makes do with 240x160. It should be fine for routefinding and playing Flappy Bird, and it's designed to be legible in bright conditions too. It’s a capacitative touch screen so you’ll need a bare finger or a bit of that clever cloth on your glove to get the best out of it.
The Phone 5 runs Android 4.1.2, and it has a quad-core 1.2Ghz processor so shouldn’t struggle with general phone and navigation duties. It has a 3G data connection, Bluetooth, WiFi and of course GPS. There’s also a barometric altimeter for better altitude accuracy, something that GPS-only phones can struggle with. There’s a 5MP camera for recording your exploits too, and a front-facing camera for selfies and Skype. The phone has 4Gb of internal storage, expandable via a Micro SD slot.
That’s all well and good but not much use if the phone dies a couple of hours into the ride. That’s not likely to be an issue here: the Phone 5 packs a whopping 3500mAh battery into its innards. That’s as big as any phone we've seen, and should make for long stints between charging. Remember when you charged your Nokia 3210 on Monday and you still had one bar on Friday? Like that. Hopefully.
All that screen and battery means it’s certainly not diminuitive. It’ll fit in your pocket, assuming you have a decent-sized pocket, but you’ll know it’s in there. But since it’s waterproof in general use, you can experiment with ways of fixing it to your bars or stem instead. We’ll be doing that, as well as just generally using it as a phone. We’ll let you know how we get on.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.