After months of miserable weather, summer has finally arrived, and heading to the countryside to camp, hike and explore is starting to seem like a good idea again. A Samsung GALAXY S4 can be the perfect companion when exploring the great outdoors – here are our favourite features to get you going when you're out and about.
The built-in Google Maps app that comes with your GALAXY S4 is great for when you have a decent mobile signal, but you can't always rely on having a 3G or 4G signal once you head off the beaten track. Sure, Google Maps also boasts offline mapping for when you are lost in the woods without a connection, but CoPilot GPS is another really good alternative that is geared towards exploring when you are off the grid.
The app is free to download with a single country's map data and you can upgrade to add more countries and full voice navigation.
The Automobile Association has been recommending accommodation, campsites and caravan parks to its members for over one hundred years. That wealth of knowledge is now available in handy app form so you can quickly locate the nearest campsite or caravan park using your GALAXY S4.
Over 850 sites have been reviewed and rated, and you'll also get brief descriptions of the site as well as details of available facilities. You can call or email each site office with just one tap and location details can be sent straight to either Google Maps or to another app such as CoPilot GPS (see above).
Geocaching is a hobby that has grown in popularity in recent years with the easy availability of GPS devices. A cross between treasure hunting and orienteering, the idea is to try to find 'caches' (usually sealed containers with small gifts or messages in) hidden by other geocaching enthusiasts using GPS coordinates.
By loading this app you can plan geocaching trips, look for nearby caches for a quick jaunt or use your GALAXY S4 to navigate to a specific cache. Plus, with the S4's speedy 1.9GHz Quad-Core processor, you are sure to be the first get those essential hints to help you find the exact hiding place and log your adventures.
The GALAXY S4 includes a magnetometer which can detect the Earth's magnetic field. This app turns your phone into a fully-fledged compass all ready for old-school navigation. As well as the compass dial for pointing out magnetic North, the Camp Compass also features a flashlight (using the S4's LED flash) and an SOS alarm that sounds a blaring whistle.
Being cut off from civilization, even for a few hours, can carry some risks. With the British Red Cross First Aid app you will have a wealth of first aid knowledge at your fingertips, ready to tackle any medical emergency.
As well as step-by-step instructions for dealing with most kinds of injury or sudden illness, the app includes video walkthroughs, which look superb on the GALAXY S4's 5-inch HD Super AMOLED screen, and even a quiz to test your first aid knowledge.
Hardware and Peripherals
The Samsung GALAXY S4 Active
If you are serious about the outdoor life, you might be worried that a smartphone like the GALAXY S4 will get damaged, despite its toughened Gorilla Glass 3 screen.
This is why Samsung has come up with the GALAXY S4 Active.
The S4 Active is wrapped in a tough outer case that is designed to absorb shock and shrug off damage that might break a normal smartphone. It is also IP67 rated, meaning it's both dustproof and water resistant in depths up to a metre. You can actually drop the S4 Active into a bath of water and it will come out unharmed. Even the headphone jack is water resistant, without the need for a special cover.
The rear camera of the S4 Active is a respectable 8 megapixels and features a special Aqua Mode that enables you to take pictures underwater, automatically correcting for the distortion and light diffraction.
The GALAXY S4 Active may be a tough cookie but wrapping a regular S4 in a rugged case, such as the Defender, can also provide extra protection for outdoor pursuits.
The Defender completely encases the S4 to provide dust, shock and splash resistance while keeping the responsive touch screen usable through a thin but tough protective layer.
Solar charger - the PowerFreaks 2500 Solar Charger
One significant problem facing anyone who wants to use a smartphone while camping is how to keep the battery charged.
The GALAXY S4 has a really good battery life. Luckily, for those occasions when you eventually run low of mobile power, there are some great accessories available that can help keep you at full capacity.
For good weather, solar chargers such as the PowerFreaks 2500 Solar Charger (£49.99) can fully charge your GALAXY S4 using just the power of the sun. It can store power in its internal battery too, so you can expose it to the sun's rays all day and use it to charge your S4 up after dark.
Hand-cranked charger - the Eton BoostTurbine 2000v
If the weather is a little more, shall we say, British, then a better option might be a hand-cranked mechanical charger such as the Eton BoostTurbine 2000v (£44.90). This eco-friendly gadget will turn your elbow grease into electricity – perfect for keeping you topped up at night or on a rainy day.