Feb 27, 2019
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Crosscall Trekker-X4: the return of the smartphone for adventurers

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Brands specialized in the design of hardened terminals are few. Crosscall, which is based in Aix-en-Provence, is one of the references of this market. The series of Trekker-X has often given birth to very good smartphones for the adventurers and the 4th version has serious advantages to continue this observation. It must be said that 700 €, the Trekker-X4 is not among the most affordable, but it gives itself the means to succeed.

ERGONOMICS AND DESIGN

The Crosscall Trekker-X4 is far from being in line with the current trend of the smartphone market. With a thickness of 1.3 cm and 250 g on the scale, it serves as a heavyweight. It does not take less to offer such a level of resistance. Indeed, the main advantage of this smartphone is its robustness, with a body with a gummed texture that absorbs shocks well. On each side, the frame is reinforced with a metal band. After dropping it many times and on different surfaces, the Trekker-X4 came out unscathed.

The screen in Gorilla Glass is also up to the expectations of resistance. This material is also used to protect the optics of the two rear modules. Sealing is required, with IP68 certification. It guarantees resistance to dust and water (up to 2 m for 1 hour). USB-C ports and 3.5mm mini-jack are protected by hatches that seem to offer a good seal, without being painful to open. On the other hand, it should be kept in mind that the ports are particularly stuck in the chassis. Supplied accessories (USB-C cable and 3.5mm mini-jack hands-free kit) fit easily. This is not the case for a majority of cables from other sources.

Obviously, a smartphone with such an armor can hardly offer an exceptional screen occupancy rate. Here, about 63% of the front panel is occupied by the 5.5 inch (13.97 cm) diagonal display. It will not hope to maneuver with one hand the imposing Trekker-X4.

To be easily used by a gloved hand, the Crosscall smartphone has quite large volume control keys. A physical trigger is also ideally positioned to fall under the index when holding the smartphone horizontally. Long press this button to launch the photo application. Convenient to not have to remove his gloves to draw quickly.

However, it is a shame to have chosen to place the fingerprint reader on the unlock button on the right edge. While it falls well under the thumb of a right hand – or the middle finger of a left hand – but it is more difficult to locate for a gloved hand. This problem will not be a problem for those who have activated biometric unlocking, since detection can only be done once the finger is bare. The screen responds correctly when wearing rather thin gloves.

Crosscall provides a plastic fastener that binds the Trekker-X4 to certain accessories. Among the options offered, there are in particular a telescopic pole, an armband or a harness, to fix the smartphone on the torso. Fixing is provided by two notches on both sides of the smartphone, in addition to a magnetic attachment. These accessories are in our opinion essential to really enjoy the action-cam built into the smartphone. It will be necessary to foresee this extra cost (between 30 and 60 € according to the accessories) if this function interests you.

SCREEN

The screen of Trekker-X3 was quite average, that of his successor is a little better. Still in IPS panel, the screen changes to a diagonal 5.5 inches (13.97 cm) for a definition Full HD (1920 x 1080 px). What offer sufficient resolution for all uses for which the Trekker-X4 is intended. The brightness reaches 500 cd / m², while the rate of light reflection is average. Thanks to this, he manages to remain readable without leaving too much room for reflection. Indispensable for a terminal to be used on the water or on the snow. The contrast ratio is average for IPS (1270: 1).

Crosscall’s display colorimetry could have been worth more attention. We measure an average delta E of 4.6 and above all a color temperature of 9000 K. The latter reflects a display that draws quite clearly on cold shades. Too bad the Trekker-X4 does not allow adjustment to change this very high temperature.

The responsiveness of the screen is pretty good overall. We measured a touch delay at 83 ms and a persistence at 18 ms.

PERFORMANCE

The Crosscall Trekker-X4 is based on a SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 4 GB of RAM. What offer a completely satisfactory experience of Android. The only uses that really push the smartphone to its limits are those that strongly solicit CPU and iGPU parts, including the processing of recorded videos.

With its shell, the Trekker-X4 does not see its surface exceed unpleasant temperatures for handling. Whatever the uses, the smartphone Crosscall keeps his cool.

The Adreno 512 graphics chip is perfectly capable of running the entire catalog of games on the Play Store. Only the most demanding will require a small drop in the level of graphics to maintain optimal fluidity.

AUDIO

The Trekker-X4’s 3.5mm mini-jack plug delivers the correct performance. The power will suit a large part of the nomadic headsets market and the distortion is very discreet. The dynamic range is displayed on a large width, unlike the stereo image, a little too tight.

The speaker is positioned on the back of the smartphone. Care should be taken not to cover it with fingertips when held in the hand. If it is powerful enough, the accuracy is not really at the rendezvous. The top of the spectrum is particularly acidic and the saturation becomes annoying at full volume. We will be satisfied for calls.

PHOTO

Next to the famous action-cam integrated in the Trekker-X4 is a 12-megapixel sensor surmounted by a classic wide-angle lens. The performance of this module is fairly average overall. In daylight, the level of detail is correct, but the electronic noise comes quickly play the spoilsport. Focusing does an honest job, even if it happens to search for its target for 1 second sometimes. The trigger is fast enough.

It is in low light that things are spoiled clearly. The management of the electronic noise is mediocre. It comes to flock on the image, losing a lot of information, without the images are perfectly exposed.

Video enthusiasts, especially sports video, may be attracted to the second module of the Trekker-X4. An original module based on a sensor 12 Mpx too, but surmounted by an optical offering a capture field of 170 °. A kind of action-cam integrated with the smartphone and rather unique on the market. An interesting idea in a terminal that glitters frankly on the side of sports in search of thrills. Is it enough to do without a GoPro type camera? Not necessarily…

An interesting action-cam, but to perfect

For the moment, everything is not perfect yet. The sensor being the same as that of the main module, there are some defects in image quality. Low light performance is limited. It will be preferable sunny tracks shaded undergrowth to get the best of this integrated action-cam.

Basic, the images are saved in a circular fish-eye format . It is in this mode that the angle of 170 ° is reached. Videos thus shot offer an atypical aspect, but are more constraining for editing. This format is accessible from the classic photo application of the smartphone.

To go further in the management of shooting formats, you have to go through the X-CAM application. It is then possible to choose a 720p, 1080p, 1440p or 2160p resolution. The shooting angle can also be selected from 170 °, 140 °, 110 ° and 88 °. All of these angles finally correspond to cropping of the recording area of ​​the sensor.

Beyond the quality of image that is a little fair, another problem arises: it must for the moment necessarily go through a phase of export of the video to get it out of the lap of the application X-CAM . In itself, nothing insurmountable, but the exported videos all have the same defect: instead of keeping the framing that was thought to achieve, the image finally seems out of sync. Crosscall has confirmed to us that we are working on the solution of this problem, related to the treatment aimed at stabilizing the image.

As it stands, the action-cam Trekker-X4 is quite disappointing and does not really compete with a dedicated camera. The technical teams of the French brand with whom we traded assured us that improvements were already in the pipes. We will not fail to return to this test after the next updates.

AUTONOMY

With such a format, the Trekker-X4 can afford to ship a battery of 4,400 mAh. A fighter smartphone has to keep the distance and on this point the Trekker-X4 really ensures. On our SmartViser test protocol, he shot for 22:35. What to keep three full days in standard use and ensure a day and a half without problems in case of more intensive use. Suffice to say that this smartphone is part of the gratin of our comparison in this category.

At the time of writing, the Trekker-X4 is running a stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo. Crosscall therefore takes the logical and aesthetic codes of the Google OS and does not overload the device unsolicited third-party applications.

The French manufacturer simply adds applications of his own related to the specificities of his smartphone. We find the X-CAM application, which allows the recording and management of videos and photos captured by the action-cam module. A simple application to take in hand and effective in all.

As on the previous model, the Trekker-X4 also integrates an application grouping the various sensors integrated into the smartphone. The terminal has a thermometer, a hygrometer, a compass, an accelerometer, a barometer, an altimeter, a UV sensor or even brightness. In this application, we also find information related to GPS, Bluetooth or the battery.

If the list of tools has grown since the Trekker-X3, the criticism that can be made remains the same: all this information is useful in different situations and it would have been interesting to be able to follow up. The application ultimately allows only to make a statement at the same time the application is open.



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