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b00
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b00
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 10:09 am 
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i'd like to get a cell phone for backcountry use.  for gps, maps, etc...
thinking about a samsung s7 or a an iphone 5se.
would love some info from people who are using these a lot.

if i used in airplane mode and set it to make gps track, how long would the battery last?
durability?  water resistance?
screen cover, case cover, backup battery recommendations?  should i get a case with a backup battery?
thanks
:>)
ps - thanks all for the great answers and all the help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:>)
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iron
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iron
getting old
PostMon Aug 28, 2017 10:34 am 
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the sky is falling. you're my last friend with a dumb phone. i'm all that's left...

--------------
man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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Slide Alder Slayer
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Slide Alder Slayer
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 10:58 am 
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No Iron, you still have one friend!
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mbravenboer
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mbravenboer
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 11:06 am 
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Just a few notes from an SE owner:

- Size is great and fits in pocket. I don't want a bigger phone because it will be likely to break in your pocket.

- I got a LifeProof cover. Works mostly great. They are not very durable (often break within a year it seems), but they give you a second one for shipping cost with an easy warranty form. Great for wet conditions (you can truly put them submerged in water without leaking).

- I've been sticking to iPhone for the availability of apps. I guess this might be changing lately, but it's probably still the best supported phone.

- I use it bluetooth paired with my delorme inreach to send custom messages easily.

- Airplane mode works great. I haven't pushed it, but after hiking a day there is usually plenty left (75%). This includes checking the map now and then and taking some photos.

- I've tried GPS tracking, but the battery is drained very quickly (quicker than a short day hike). I don't use it for that.

I'm about to review getting a bigger external battery to reload for longer trips. I would not get a cover with one so that you can adjust how much you need.
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Riverside Laker
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 12:34 pm 
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I also use the iPhone SE, chosen for its small size. Don't use GPS tracking, it eats batteries even in airplane mode. But might last ok for day trips. Gaia works pretty good with it -- change settings so it only tracks satellites when you turn it on. You have to wait awhile for the signal to stabilize, and it's a little unclear how accurate it is, despite what the accuracy field says. However, I also use the peakfinder app, which clearly displays accuracy of your satellite readings. So I turn on peakfinder first until I can tell it knows where it is, then look at Gaia.
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Jaberwock
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 2:50 pm 
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Do an iPhone (better battery management than Android) and follow some general suggestions:

https://medium.com/@Herrron/phones-batteries-and-charging-on-the-pct-4416c0b5665e

http://www.adventurealan.com/iphone-gps-map-backpacking/

https://thingstolucat.com/ddtp-navigation-with-gaia-gps/
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Grannyhiker
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 4:43 pm 
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Quote:
the sky is falling. you're my last friend with a dumb phone. i'm all that's left...

Another friend here; I refuse to traumatize my brain trying to learn how to use a smart phone.  Life is too short!

Besides, with the dumb phone I pay only $15/month.

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey
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Kat
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Kat
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 4:56 pm 
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Just recently picked up a used S7, decided on that because it was the lightest weight smartphone with IP68 waterproof rating (I do lakes).

Not using for GPS yet, just camera and I set it to airplane mode at the trailhead and go - I could be out for days as far as battery goes. Came with a super lightweight rubber case, I still pack it in a small ziploc with bubble wrap tho - but I'm paranoid, have drowned and blunt-force trauma'd a number of electronic devices on the trail  embarassedlaugh.gif
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RandyHiker
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RandyHiker
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 7:09 pm 
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Independent of phone model, three recommendations

1) Verizon -- coverage in the mountains is amazing.
2) Battery case, possibly multiple cases.  Doubles usable lifetime without farting around with cables.
3) 1 QT Ziplock freezer bags are serviceable  "waterproof cases" that allow touch functionality.
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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 8:29 pm 
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I've been using phone based GPS navigation for several years, first on a Galaxy S3, and the last couple years on an S6.  I find the battery life to be good for ~8-9 hours (close all apps, even re-start the phone prior, some apps are sneaky at robbing battery power) in most cases depending on how much I use the phone during the trip (taking photos and video, checking GPS or beta saved on the phone all use power) and I'm generally using it quite a bit in the field.  If you just set it and forget it you could get maybe 10-12 hours or more, but I'm always using it in the field so I'm not really sure.  If I'm planning on being out over 8 hours, I'll bring a battery backup.  I just use a basic case for the phone and none for the battery backup, although I do worry about moisture, especially in spring.  A lifeproof case might not be a bad idea.  As far as navigation apps, most will probably recommend Gaia which is great.  I use it most of the time now although I also like Backcountry Navigator.
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InFlight
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InFlight
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PostTue Aug 29, 2017 7:18 am 
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Another IPhone user, various models over time.  Mapping apps and GPS are quite good.

I have always used the Otterbox Defender cases on both my IPhones and work crackberry; not very compact but pocket drop proof.

ATT also has surprisingly good coverage in lot of places.  In the backcountry for making a important phone call you can always select roaming access.  ATT & T-Mobile use the international GSM standard.  Sprint & Verizon, & US Cellular are CDMA phones (do not work outside the US).

For longer trips, there are a lot of light weight chargers that can extend your phones field time.  Anker branded is the ones I've used.

--------------
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...  ― Henry David Thoreau
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Hiker Mama
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PostTue Aug 29, 2017 8:05 am 
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I agree with what others have said about the iPhones. I currently have the SE because I don't like the giant newer Apple phones. I've been using the Otterbox cases on them, have dropped them many times, and they are always fine. I used to have an Otterbox "waterproof" case, but you had to take the phone out of the case to take a photo, which led to lots of futzing about with phone and case in the wild, so I switched to a non-waterproof case, and it's been great. I think I have the Defender; whichever one is the most protective. Get them off Amazon, they are much cheaper than in the stores. I use a Ziploc bag in case of rain. I use Gaia earth, and can get 2 days out of my phone battery on airplane mode. It pairs really nicely with my older InReach PLB. There are lots of other good apps I love for birds and flowers and stars and such. AT&T has decent service in the mountains, but still not everywhere (that's fine with me!). Much better than when we had T-Mobile.  If I ever do a longer trip, I'll get a spare battery to bring along. I should get one anyway, I just haven't gotten around to it. I used to have one that acted as a case, but when we all had battery issues with our phones at the same time, the techs said that constantly charging them in the cases could be causing the battery issues (swelling up, looking like they were going to explode! and limiting battery life.) I'm sure it wouldn't be an issue if you just did that for hiking, but I won't be doing that for everyday use any more.

If you look around, you can often find used iphones from friends. Or check at phone repair/sales shops, where sometimes people trade in their old, perfectly good phones for the newest model. That's how we've helped our son with his phone purchases.

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My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
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DIYSteve
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DIYSteve
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PostWed Aug 30, 2017 8:19 am 
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I dunno anything re iPhone vs. Android use in the mountains, although I can report that using Gaia GPS app on my Android platform Motorola phone (not sure what model) has exceeded my expectations. When I'm in the mountains I'm usually outside of cell range, so I go into airplane mode at the TH with a full charge. If you use Gaia be sure to load the applicable USGS 7.5' database maps before your trip when you are at home or other place with wifi. Easy to do. I primarily navigate with map & compass, supplemented by handheld GPSr and use Gaia app in the mountains when I want to see my position, moving or static, on a map. That hierarchy works very well for me. I get est. 20-30 hours of Gaia use on my Motorola/Android phone on a full charge in airplane mode. I carry a lightweight charger pack on longer trips, although so far I have not needed it in the mountain. FWIW, I also occasionally check my Sibley's bird book app in the mountains.
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Chico
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PostWed Aug 30, 2017 4:59 pm 
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Grannyhiker wrote:
Besides, with the dumb phone I pay only $15/month.

Really? Paying $10 plus tax so less than $11 and have an iPhone!

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http://capitolriders.org
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Malachai Constant
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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Aug 30, 2017 7:58 pm 
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Android with Gaia wrks great for me phone was greebfrom T-mobile Android allows you to add a big memory card at low cost. Use in reach for messaging.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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