My Garmin inReach Mini 2 saved my life. I won't go into the backcountry without it, and I've told friends, family members, and the general public that if they love exploring the great outdoors, they should carry one, too.

It's an invaluable piece of backwoods gear

And while there are other satellite communicators on the market, such as Zoleo and Spot, one that everyone's asked for is one from Apple. Specifically, they've been asking for years for the company to build that functionality into the iPhone. Now that's a reality, as with the upcoming iOS 18 update, everyone with an iPhone 14, 15, or forthcoming 16 will have the ability to send texts or SOS signals to both loved ones and emergency responders. 

But though I think Apple adding that feature to its iPhones is a great idea, access to emergency services when you need them most should be as seamless as possible in order to convey the message quickly and efficiently, I don't think an iPhone can replace your Garmin. Or your Zoleo or Spot, for that matter. 

Why? Well, it all comes down to durability and use case, something the iPhone has always struggled with. 

I'm extremely hard on my gear. I like to joke that I'm the engineering edge case, the one person designers and engineers fear, so they build something a little more durable than they probably need to. I drop my gear on the ground, throw it into the back of my truck or into the Pelican case on top of my Can-Am, and fall with it on motorcycles a lot. I've dunked myself in rivers and mud puddles, and generally treated everything I own with wanton abandon. 

What I'm trying to say is, I break a lot of gear. And that includes so many phones, I've honestly lost count, including a number of iPhones. 

Despite the newer phones going through further torture testing, I've still managed to break them. As have countless others. Screens shatter, water gets into the case, motorcycles vibrate them to pieces, dust causes them to stop emitting sound, or they get too hot and die. They may now be built out of titanium, but they aren't indestructible. In fact, mine's currently not doing great and I've had a case around it since day one. 

And that's because they're just not made for those activities.

Garmin inReach Mini 2
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iPhones are meant to live in our pockets, on our nightstands, on our desks, or in our cars. They're not rugged tools. They're just phones, at least for the vast majority of people. Apple could likely develop an adventure-oriented iPhone, but it'd be investing millions in R&D for a very small portion of the vast iPhone-buying public.

So why bother when the margins would be so small? But that's not the case with my inReach Mini 2, which is built to take a hit and keep on working, as are the Zoleo and Spot. 

In the handful of years I've been running Garmin's inReach Mini 2, I've thrown it into rivers, run it over with a motorcycle, dropped it into a mud puddle, ran it over with my Can-Am, attached it to countless packs on motorcycle rides and hunting hikes, dropped it, smashed it, washed it, and treated it as if it was basically an inanimate rock. And while there are a few scratches here and there around the case, it works and, when I needed it the most, saved my dumbass from a freezing-cold fate. 

No matter what, it just works. And that's what you want in a satellite communicator. The iPhone, however good the latest and great might be, just isn't that. At least, not unless Apple decides to make a more adventurous version. An iPhone Ultra, as it were. But while there are rumors of such a phone, nothing has been announced and they're just that, rumors. 

I've personally gone through too many iPhones to entrust my safety in something designed for normal, non-edge-case human beings just living their lives in the safety of home. The Garmin was designed for me, as well as everyone else who runs the backwoods, to go out and do cool shit and try not to die. 

But here's the thing. I do think that Apple adding the feature to those iPhone models is a good thing. It's the old adage of "Better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it." If Apple's satellite communications networks works and helps ensure others get out and explore, but still have emergency services within reach, great, I'm all for it. Power to the people and all that jazz. 

But at the end of the day, my Garmin saved my life. My iPhone wouldn't turn on because it got too hot. 

I know which one I'm entrusting my safety to. 

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