Huawei builds a tough phone with buttons

While button-based dumb phones may be dwindling in numbers, Huawei has partnered with Vodafone to bring a new one to the table, or rather in this case, to the hands of adventurers in Australia.

Launched this week exclusively on Vodafone, the Huawei Discovery Expedition combines solid build quality with buttons, social networking, a sports tracker, and the ability to withstand more than what most people will throw at it.

“We road-tested the Discovery Expedition at the Tough Mudder event last weekend and it survived the challenging obstacle course featuring mud, ice-water, electric shocks and fire,” said Ross Parker, Vodafone Australia’s General Manager of Devices and Pricing. “If you want a phone with grit, this is the one for you.”

Officially, the Huawei Discovery Expedition offers protection against sand, dust, shocks, and will resist water for 30 minutes in depths of up to one metre. Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass helps to make the 2 inch screen just that much more durable, but there’s more to the Discovery Expedition than just the ability to survive a drop.

While the handset lacks a modern operating system like Google’s Android, it does still manage to feature a GPS, digital compass, two megapixel camera, microSD slot, access to the web, and connectivity for social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The Huawei also includes a version of the Endomondo Sports Tracker designed to work with the handset’s G-Sensor, so you can track what sort of movements you’ve been making.

And then there’s buttons!

Yes, the Huawei Discovery Explorer is one of the few handsets we’ve heard of this year that lacks a touchscreen and instead uses buttons and a physical directional pad.

While it won’t appeal to everyone, customers eager to grab a phone that can survive most of the extreme adventures they expose themselves to can find the smartphone at Vodafone for $0 on a $19 plan or $199 on prepaid.