Author Topic: Is this the thread for choosing I/smartphones  (Read 1314 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Lowly Swale

Is this the thread for choosing I/smartphones
« on: February 04, 2011, 11:39:41 am »
I am a Brit planning Gt Divide this summer. I was thinking an I-phone or equivalent for emergency communication with additional features like, camera, MP3 player, radio, GPS, e-mail, blogging, diary etc would be a gadget well worth having. I have never owned a cell phone before but enquired in uk recently.
It seemed that roaming charges would make taking a phone from home unafforable. It has been suggested I just get a phone over there when I go or get one here but make it compatible with north american networks and sim cards.
Does anyone have advice on models, features, costs, feasibility and experience using one? How long batteries last and anybody used a power monkey solar charger?

Offline Elessar

Re: Is this the thread for choosing I/smartphones
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 02:31:16 pm »
L:

I have a new Android phone that I love and I use it for a lot of things.  However, the most exhaustive task is the GPS.  If I choose to use the GPS my battery will be depleted in about two hours.  This is on an HTC Nexus One.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my phone and enjoy the entertainment it can provide but it comes with the requirement to recharge almost daily.  If I use it lightly and only receive a few short calls I can last about 48 hours without charging.

I just purchased a new low end GPS because of this issue.  I want to be able to navigate at any time without concern for power consumption.  This way I can turn my phone off to save power while riding but still have it for the camera or reading a book when I am near a power source as needed.

Hope this helps...
"The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.  Now far ahead the road has gone and I must follow if I can."  J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline Susan

Re: Is this the thread for choosing I/smartphones
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 12:10:20 am »
L:
When touring in the US (I live in Germany) I used to buy a prepaid like Tracphone or Virgin Mobile which were just fine if you only need phone service ( used mine mainly for texting).  Later, I wanted a phone I could also use for internet access.  If you travel to foreign countries now and then and want to buy a smartphone, IMHO it makes sense to buy an UNLOCKED 4-band phone you can use anywhere in the world. (I suggest researching this at amazon.uk) Then you buy a prepaid sim card from the country you are going to and you just have to switch the sim cards. 
I ordered my SIM here and had it before I left Germany - just had to activate it upon arrival in the US:
 
 http://www.usasims.com/comparison.html

At the time I chose a Nokia E71, similar to a Blackberry, paid about 170 Euros.  The display is small, but OK for googling - not so great for extensive browsing.  I chose it due to the good battery life as opposed to phones with larger screens.  On my Sierra Cascade tour I also carried an extra phone battery (13€), not knowing how often I would be able to recharge.  I use a 16GB microSD with this and have all my music and contacts on it. 

I prefer having a separate GPS and am going to take a solar charger on my next tour.

Cheers!   Susan

Offline rvklassen

Re: Is this the thread for choosing I/smartphones
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 10:02:41 am »
One of the issues with using a Smartphone when visiting the US is that the carriers I've found all appear to require at least a 2 year commitment.  AT&T spells out the penalty for breaking the commitment, and you could just factor that into the cost.   

We're planning to tour in the US and Canada, and that's worse - providers in either country either don't let you use the phone in the other, or slap on substantial roaming fees, or increase the cost of the plan (and here comes the 2 year commitment again).  Our current plan is two use TWO prepaid phones, one in each country...

Offline noshbygosh

Re: Is this the thread for choosing I/smartphones
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2011, 01:04:49 pm »
L:
When touring in the US (I live in Germany) I used to buy a prepaid like Tracphone or Virgin Mobile which were just fine if you only need phone service ( used mine mainly for texting).  Later, I wanted a phone I could also use for internet access.  If you travel to foreign countries now and then and want to buy a smartphone, IMHO it makes sense to buy an UNLOCKED 4-band phone you can use anywhere in the world. (I suggest researching this at amazon.uk) Then you buy a prepaid sim card from the country you are going to and you just have to switch the sim cards. 
I ordered my SIM here and had it before I left Germany - just had to activate it upon arrival in the US:
 
 http://www.usasims.com/comparison.html



Cheers!   Susan

Note:  all of the SIM cards you listed in the URL work with either the AT&T or T-Mobile network.  I would not recommend either of these carriers for long-distance touring in the USA if it can be avoided as coverage can be spotty in different parts of the country (including bib cities like Washington, DC).  Instead, I would look for a plan that works off of Verizon's network.  I just downsized to a pre-paid phone as I have a PDA for work (that can't be mixed for personal use) and only need a cell in case of an emergency.  Many pre-paid phones have worse coverage than those that use AT&T's network.  If possible, try finding a SIM card/pre-paid phone carrier that works off of Verizon's network.

Here are several websites that might be helpful in finding the right PDA, in Europe or in the USA, if you opt to go in this direction:

http://www.consumersearch.com/cell-phone-plans/review
http://www.prepaidreviews.com/wehelpyoudecide/visitingus.html

Last issue (just to complicate matters).... I think the technology used by different phone carriers in the USA may not be compatible with what is true in Europe (CDMA vs GSM).  For instance, I spent the past several summers doing touring in Finland, England and Ireland.  In all of these cases, my Verizon blackberry did not pick up a signal and had to rent a cell phone while I was there.