May 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm #1290266
christopher smeadBPL Member
Some of the comments on my other thread about using a gps with built in camera inspired me to consider a smartphone instead.
What's the best smart phone in regards to:
Offline gps capability
Spare batteries available?
Believe it or not I don't plan on using the phone function.May 24, 2012 at 6:41 am #1880674
@sixguns01Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
iI enjoy my iphone.
Pretty light, GPS is excellent. Battery life can last days with some tricks. I also bring along a battery brick (lighter than it sounds) if i go on longer trips. Camera is good for me. Clear pics.
What really matters is you service provider. Does your provider have good service where you are hiking? I have AT&T in the NE. Not amazing in the Dacks but go everywhere else I have been.May 24, 2012 at 6:48 am #1880676
Problem with the iPhone is the batteries cannot be changed so you need an alternate power source.
I was using a Motorola Defy for 13 months untils the screen went crazy and it was out of warranty.
Currently using Motorola Triumph with a couple of spare batteries, I keep it in an an Aquapac case.
I do have a Otterbox Smartphone/gps rugged waterproof case but it's a bit heavy and bulky but absolute bomb proof.
Whichever phone you get you will need to put it in Flight mode, and crank the power settings as low as possible.May 24, 2012 at 6:53 am #1880681
Ben CBPL Member
I got a Motorola Galaxy S II. I wont go back to an iphone. Overall I like it better. GPS is good. You can swap out cards and batteries. Light. Feels pretty durable. Big honking screen.May 24, 2012 at 8:05 am #1880699
I have an iPhone, and out of the woods it's a convenient tool… However, when I'm hiking, the last thing I wanna deal with is a cellphone. Sure, it can get the weather and all that, but it is too tempting of a distraction to suck you out of being in tune with the natural environment. I have an awesome camera, so I wouldn't use it for that either.
Basically what I'm getting at is, does anyone have a way of NOT bringing a cell phone on a trip? I know it seems obvious – leave it at home – but for example when I fly out to do the JMT, it'd be nice not to have to worry about an iPhone in my pack, but it will also be the device that helps me get there and and home in an organized fashion.
I'm probably out of luck… but it kinda stinks having $300 of fragile, "useless" weight in your pack in the backcountry.May 24, 2012 at 8:12 am #1880702
Erik BasilBPL Member
I have a Casio G'Zone Commando Android phone. Without an add-on case, it's waterproof, smashproof, cold-proof, heat-proof, dust-proof and requires no screen-protector. It cooks breakf…well, no.
Okay, so the in-store display for this phone was a fishbowl, full of water. They'd start it playing a tune, drop it in the tank, let it sink, reach in and use the screen, then adjust the volume using a physical toggle button on the side (you can see the screen bar change) and then take their hand out and invite you take the phone out of the water. Of course, it's playing just fine when you do.
It's not smashproof, but I can verify it handles being dropped just fine. I drop phones. I drop phones in water. I drop phones on asphalt and concrete. Coupla scuffs. It's got a Gorilla Glass screen, as many newer phones do now, and it needs no stick-on shield. You could scratch it with a key and leave no marks –another stunt at the store, btw.
It's got mil-spec email and VM encryption! Yeah, whatever. Karl Rove has the codes, trust me. (Let me reiterate, I love Big Brother and that gin is great.)
The GPS is fine, the on-board OEM software is good and spare batteries are cheap, although you cannot use "extended life size" because there's only one waterproof rear door available. The Android updates work fine and they're currently updated to use 2.3.3 . I have High Sierra coverage up to the JMT at Thousand Island Lake (moved south along lake and lost it), all over the Lagunas, Cuyamacas and San Bernadinos and it works flawlessly in Puerto Rico (where it darn sure also got wet). The onboard camera is crap, however.
The Commando is now obsolete, so Verizon sells them new for under $100, a far better price than I paid after smashing an armored Razor into pieces and walking into a Manhattan store with rubble in my hands…May 24, 2012 at 8:18 am #1880709
My phone is always switched off unless I turn it on to use the Gps for a few minutes or use it to read a book before sleep time.
I will say though that up to most of my hiking has been in areas with no trails and not many folks about so in emergency it could come in useful, if I am going to be in an area with no phone coverage I bring along another methods of calling for help.
StephenMay 24, 2012 at 8:21 am #1880710
I looked at that phone a while back, you say it's obsolete, is it very slow as a smartphone?
StephenMay 24, 2012 at 9:09 am #1880725
@aaronjaylLocale: Southern Maine
I have an iPhone 4s that I keep in a waterproof Otter box. If you turn off the Bluetooth, Wifi, and push notifications it will last for quite a while. I turn it completely off though while on the trail. Since I usually go solo, my fiancee asks me to check in at night when I'm able. I've gone for days and finished with over half a battery left with 15-20 minute conversations at night and a few pics sent.May 24, 2012 at 9:24 am #1880734
I don't think any smartphone supports offline GPS functionality though. Or am I wrong on that? I know that would be impossible with my android phone. Google maps and navigation won't load without a data connection.May 24, 2012 at 9:30 am #1880735
I have an Aquapac Keymaster case for my iphone. The touchscreen works through the case and it's submersible up to 30ft with 1/4 turn gasketed seals. It's like a ziploc bag on some serious steroids. You wouldn't be able to take pictures (or good ones anyway) while the phone was in the case, however. But it's very lightweight and much less bulky than hard sided cases.
That being said, I always bring a dedicated camera with me. I have a waterproof Sony point and shoot that's submersible to 15ft and is probably smaller in volume than my phone. Takes excellent pictures – much better than probably 99% if not ALL phones out there.
I rarely use GPS and when/if I do, I use my phone. But I also use my phone daily as a phone and in the backcountry as lots of other things around camp.
If you're not looking to use a smartphone as a phone, I think you're wasting your money. Yeah it combines a GPS and camera into one smallish convenient package, but I think you'd be better off with a dedicated GPS and dedicated camera. You'll get better GPS functionality, much better battery life, and much better pictures this way. You will likely save a bunch of money compared to buying a smart phone too. As well as some flexibilty about which gets packed and when. Sometimes you might want one or the other. Sometimes both.
If you do need a phone at some point though (I can't imagine being w/out a cell phone), it may be worth it to get a smart phone instead of dedicated camera and gps units. But otherwise I think a phone will be a waste for you.May 24, 2012 at 9:33 am #1880737
This is what makes a smartphone a viable replacement for a GPS.
Can't speak for other phones, but the iphone 4 and later has a real GPS that is not dependent on cell or data coverage. Download a GPS app and the maps you are going to need while you are at home with wifi. Once out on the trail just use the GPS app as you would a regular GPS. If you want to save on battery life, just turn it on occassionally to check your position. I have found the GPS to be very accurate, down to a few feet.May 24, 2012 at 9:34 am #1880740
"I don't think any smartphone supports offline GPS functionality though. Or am I wrong on that?"
for offline GPS use, you'll want to pre-load maps etc. into the phone with various GPS apps available. Google maps is not one of those that can store maps, although some map data can be cached for offline use sometimes. To slow battery drain you'll want to turn off your phone/data functionality while leaving the GPS functionality enabled.May 24, 2012 at 9:37 am #1880742
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
How about a prepaid phone for your trips? You can get one much lighter than your iPhone and worry free. It won't cost anything when you aren't using it. They make good backups to leave in your car, etc.May 24, 2012 at 9:50 am #1880749
Ah, okay, stand corrected. I hardly use GPS so haven't really explored it. But good to know, thanks.
I'm sympathetic to the general problem somebody else stated of what to do with your smartphone when backpacking. I also don't want to leave mine in the car at the TH, so lug it around, but I don't use it or want to use it. Its deadweight. Maybe we need small locking car safes. :)May 24, 2012 at 9:54 am #1880754
Art …BPL Member
John Muir gets more amazing every day :-)May 24, 2012 at 9:59 am #1880756
Jason GBPL Member
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
+1 on iphone
wait 1 month for the new iPhone 5 come out. i think they announce it the 8th and it will come out a few weeks after. and don't forget to jailbreak it to unlock its true potential..May 24, 2012 at 10:00 am #1880757
Not an iPhone. Or, basically anything other than an iPhone. Small screen, fragile, and no removable battery. It's the battery thing that kills it for me. And I couldn't live with that tiny screen anymore.May 24, 2012 at 10:08 am #1880762
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
Any recommendations for iPhone GPS Apps?May 24, 2012 at 10:20 am #1880766
"Any recommendations for iPhone GPS Apps?"
I have the following:
Topo Maps (has some very cool unique features)
Other related apps you should check out:
PeaksMay 24, 2012 at 11:08 am #1880785
@oroambulantLocale: San Francisco
I have an iPhone 4S and love it.
BUT, the screen is too small and no spare battery.
I'm buying (getting for FD?) a DeLorme inReach. Since they don't (yet) work with iOS, I'll be buying (getting for BD?) an android, prolly Galaxy II, to use with the inReach. I'd like a pre-pay version so I can use it as a phone, but not have to drop the iPhone contract, etc…May 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm #1880803
Herbert SitzBPL Member
@hesLocale: Pacific NW
The battery issue is enough to turn me against iPhone.
You can get used but good condition versions of Android phones that aren't tied to phone plans. You can forget the phone plan entirely, if for some reason you don't want to use it as phone, or you can get inexpensive prepaid plan from somewhere like PagePlus. I myself go through KittyWireless, which sells PagePlus plans but takes care of most of the details of setting things up for you: http://kittywireless.com/ You have to be careful using smartphone with prepaid plan, since you will basically _never_ want to access the web via Verizon (drains fees to quickly, use wireless hubs instead), and Kitty doesn't formally support all the functions on smartphones, just the phone part of things. You can get ad hoc info and support in their user forums: http://www.kittyforums.net/forumdisplay.php/72-All-Things-Android
Some places to find good used Android phones that are contract-free, ready for use on PagePlus/KittyWireless:
This seems to be best gps app for android phones, I haven't used it yet:
Here's another helpful link:
I know I've seen webpage with some comments on which phones seemed to have best gps reception, but can't remember where. If I recall it seemed, not surprisingly, that some of the latest models were better.May 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm #1880847
Mathew MacDonaldBPL Member
I too went with android because of the removable battery. You can buy aftermarket batteries for $3-6 on amazon. I carry a couple extra batteries which weigh 1.1 oz each. Sometimes I'll spend a lot of time reading books with the kindle app and its nice to have a ton of battery life.
Another thing I liked about droid when I got mine 2 years ago is for $6 per month my phone is protected against any damage even water damage. At the time apple did not offer insurance for damage other than manufacturer defect.May 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm #1880946
@dafiremedicLocale: Southern California
I have both the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Epic 4g Touch. I like them both, but I prefer the Epic in almost all areas except the GPS, in which the iPhone seems to excel for a phone. The Epic is the first Android phone (that I've tried) that has a quality feel to it like the iPhone. The Epic has a larger and slightly nicer screen IMO, you can add memory with micro SD cards, removeable battery (I paid 19$ including shipping for a 3800 mAh battery), accessories are a fraction of the cost of iPhones. The "Mac Tax" seems to have been passed on and everything seems to cost significantly more for the iPhone, but I must say that service at the Apple store was very good when my wife destroyed her iPhone and they replaced it for much less than what I thought it was going to cost. Apple now includes the damage/loss warranty without having to pay $8 a month as I would for the Epic, but you pay much more out of pocket for the iPhone initially. Apple does strictly regulate apps which is both good and bad. Less chance of malware and I don't have to worry as much about my young sons encountering some of the pornographic trash and profanity in the titles that show up in the Google Play app store. Size wise, the iPhone is a bit smaller, but the Epic weighs slightly less with the factory battery.
The camera, both still and video are very comparable. Still photos are very close, a slight edge in video to the Epic. I'm a serious video hobbyist and while I mainly use "real" video cameras, both phones can produce amazing video for phones, provided you stabilize them in some way (small tripod, beanbag, etc). I'm thinking about cutting some of the Epic's footage that I shot in Yellowstone into footage from my $3500 camera to see if I can get it close enough to tell.May 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm #1880948
Google maps can be cached, its needs to be enabled.
You will finds instructions online.
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