Mobile phones are actually poor survival tools. Their limited battery life doesn’t bode well for prolonged survival scenarios. Additionally, their reliance to a connection to a phone tower pretty much makes it useless out where towers aren’t around. Let’s face it, if you got a signal, you have access to emergency services and GPS to get yourself back to civilization. However, there are a few things that mobile phones can do in a situation like this. The first is prepare you for what’s to come. The second is provide some rudimentary tools in case you need them. Here are the best survival apps for Android.
Books remain one of the best sources of survival advice, techniques, and knowledge. There are thousands of books on the subject by a lot of different writers. Amazon Kindle, Google Play Books, and Nook are the best ebook seller platforms on mobile right now. They have a rather huge collection of books, features to read those books, and the ability to download books for offline reading. Part of surviving any situation is knowledge about the situation. For that, books still reign supreme. All three ebook platforms are free. However, actual books on the platform cost money.
The American Red Cross has several good survival apps. There are individual apps for first aid, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and a generalized emergency app. Each app has a variety of tips, tricks, and protocols for dealing with specific emergency situations. These won't help much out in the wilderness (except maybe the first aid app), but it works wonders for emergency situations where it might be days before help arrives. Plus, all of American Red Cross' apps support Spanish and they're also free.
A compass app is one of the few times a mobile phone excels in a survival situation. This particular compass app is fantastic. It features a rock solid and simple compass. This one also features altitude above sea level measurements, a good design, and it boasts magnetic declination correction, although we're not quite sure if it works that well. It also offers improved accuracy with GPS or network location signals. It's free with no ads. There is an optional pro version as well for $3.49.
There are a bunch of flashlight apps that work fine most of the time. However, Flashlight+ has a few benefits that few others do. For starters, it's completely free with no advertising or in-app purchases. The app also requires no additional permissions except the one that turns on the LED flash on your phone camera. That means it's not doing anything silly in the background and draining your battery life. There isn't much else to say, really. It's simple and it works well. It also comes with a nifty home screen widget.
HERE WeGo is a decent navigation app and a competitor to Google Maps. This one has really good offline maps support. You simply download maps of your area. That gives you some navigation help if you end up without an Internet connection. Offline maps are supported in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, and over 100 other countries. That should make this a good solution for just about everybody. Plus, it's completely free and and easy to use.
Offline Survival Manual is easily one of the best survival apps. It contains a bunch of information about various things and situations. That includes basic stuff like building a fire and finding food to more complicated things like the psychological impact of being in a survival situation. Some other categories this app supports includes basic medicine, plants, dangerous animals, situational advice for deserts and tropical areas, and even basic weapon building. The app is completely free with no in-app purchases or advertisements. It's also open source.
OpenSignal helps find signal. It actually does a lot of things. Its feature list includes tower detection, maps of nearby towers, history of your mobile connection, and an integrated speed test. It's useful for finding a signal where signal can usually be spotty. That could be the difference between staying lost and getting found. CrisisSignal is OpenSignal's other app. It's most useful for emergency situations like hurricanes where spotty signals are common. Both apps are completely free as well.
Scanner Radio is a useful app for information. It lets you scan nearby police and fire scanners. That gives you the scoop on things happening nearby. This can include fires, crime, emergency situations, and other stuff. The app features 6,500 stations, a list of the most popular scanner stations, widget support, Android Auto support, Tasker support, and more. The free version comes with most of the features. The pro version records audio, adds themes, and removes advertising. It's not a bad way to keep up with the latest stuff happening in your area.
Smart Tools is about as good as it gets for tools on a smartphone. The app includes about half a dozen tools in total. They include a ruler, a distance measurement tool, a compass, a sound meter, a light tool, and a unit converter. Each one has several purposes. For instance, the light tool includes a flashlight, a magnifier function, and a mirror function. It's good for simple handyman work. The app is also relatively inexpensive. It runs for $2.99 with no in-app purchases or advertisements. The developer has a range of other handy survival apps as well.
YouTube is good for a ton of things. Survival tutorials is one of them. There are tons of creators on YouTube with tons of how-tos on various things. That includes tying knots, building fire without a lighter, building shelter, preparing food, living off of the land, and other skills. Some of the videos aren't great. However, there is valuable information here. The free version should suffice for most. Those who want background play, offline video downloads, and no advertising can get YouTube Red for $9.99 per month.
If we missed any great survival apps for Android, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists!