Phone in the Mountains? Yes or No? If Yes, then Which One?

I was wondering what cell phone you guys use in high mountains and Alpine climbs (+4000 meters (for the few people who do that stuff)). I have an iPhone 6 now as my regular phone, but I’m not so sure if I should take him with me. We all know the battery problems after a few years, he can’t stand extreme colds, water and the screen is very delicate. So, do you just take extra battery’s/Powerbanks/solar power bank with you and keep your phone very protective (but then what is the use if you have to keep him hidden to protect it) or are there others phones that are more reliable?
I have some apps I’ve downloaded with maps of the Alps and Mont-Blanc area because they seem very handy and it would be a pity if I couldn’t use them because of my crappy, way too expensive phone.

so my questions:

  • A phone with maps, do you use it, or still the old fashioned way with maps and no communication at all? (but then what about safety?
  • If yes, do you have a cheaper phone that you can suggest?
Question Geography | Location: Alpine
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Answers ( 6 )


    Paper maps for sure! I don’t like looking at maps on a small screen. I bring a phone just for emergency calls. I prefer old school cell phones for their long-lasting battery. Enjoy the mountains, it’s beautiful over there.


      Been there a lot before, but it’s not just the maps with the hiking roads, more the topos with the information about climbing routes and stuff… I will enjoy it, it’s been way too long since I felt the real mountains under my feet and in my hands ????


    No problem if you can find your way with just paper maps, but DO take a phone for at least emergency communication – if you don’t feel like taking your iPhone, just find a cheap phone to take with you.

    Personally, I got spoilt with all offline maps possibilities and GPS, so I take smartphone + powerbank with me, though I still take paper maps, better for planning, especially longer distances, and the offline maps are still missing many trails and other information.


      Well, the things we’re doing, don’t have a lot of trails because it’s mostly on snow, ice or climbing rocks, but I have apps with a lot of information on the tops and routes we are doing. What phone do you have? Because mine is totally unreliable, this winter he couldn’t stand -5 degrees Celcius!!! So if I am staying on the snow for a night, I don’t have any communication.


        Samsung Galaxy A7, nothing special, also not tested much in extreme circumstances. In winter the biggest challenge was operating the touchscreen with frozen fingers, possibly wet 🙂 If I remember well, the battery misbehaved a bit in cold, but the phone essentially still worked, just needed another power source to be reliable.


    Paper maps for back up and a dumbphone for emergency comms, of course. But for convenient nav, trail recording etc there are good, cheap phones with a big battery like Lenovo or Huawei certain versions, batteries 4000-5000 mAh, last for days a or full week of offline navigation in airplane mode. iPhone and Samsung hype gadgets are nice for city life.

    Best answer

      Thanks for the answer!! That was what I was looking for!! I will check it out ????


        Just came back from my first proper test of Lenovo P2. 4 full days of navigation (GPS tracking on for all the trail time, occasionally checking the map) plus around 40 pictures. Airplane mode in all the time, no network use. Still had 47% of the battery left when I came out.


    Other issues might be the pressure decrease. Maybe 4000 meters should still be fine, but wondering what if the pressure decrease at eg. 8000 meters. what it would do to most smartphones.


      I think you just have to take a satellite phone, maybe they also have GPS already, not sure about that, but not really my problem right now 🙂


    About phone, we have older model smartphones (Samsung/Asus) which we’ve taken to -10 and >5000m altitude without problems (though we kept it/the electronics) in our sleeping bag during the night. If there’s time, I navigate by paper maps (don’t want to lose the skills for when electronics fail), but if in a pickle I use my watch with GPS.

    A friend of mine uses, which is like google maps for mountain trails, for this it works great. (dunno if it has the normal routes for non-trail peaks though).

      0 is great but still missing many trails, even marked ones, speaking about Slovenia at least. It lacks elevation lines as well. I use Orux + OpenAndroMaps for that, though it’s also a community project with all good and bad sides out brings. It’s worth having a look for country-specific maps/apps, e.g. for the Czech Republic, there is


        At least for Georgia OpenAndroMaps is absolutely the best. No other local or international provider comes even close.


    For the maps, my recommendation would be Backcountry Navigator. I don’t know if it is available on iOS as I have an Android phone, but it has saved me multiple times. You can choose between different map sources.

    As for the battery, I got 3 days easily out of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and I get the same out of the OnePlus 3T. The key is to put it in airplane mode, kill all applications that are running on it, lower the brightness and only turn on the GPS.

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