Smartphone and Accessories
All content copyright © 2010-2019 Frank Revelo, United States copyright office registration number TX-7931345
- Voice and text communications (standard Android apps, Google Voice, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp).
- Alarm clock, timer (standard Android app).
- Calendar (aCalendar).
- Calculator (Panecal Plus).
- Web browsers (Firefox with Adblock Plus, Google Chrome, Opera Mini).
- Photography apps, mainly landscape photos in daylight conditions (Moto Camera, Google Photos, Snapseed, Simple Gallery, etc).
- Mapping (Locus, OruxMaps and GaiaGPS for topo maps, as discussed on GPS page, MAPS.ME and Google maps for street maps).
- File management, including unpacking encrypted ZIP files (TotalCommander file manager)
- Reading ebooks and PDF files (Moon+ ereader, built-in PDF reader, Kindle app).
- Playing music and language study audio files in MP3 format (Rocket Player). Streaming audio is of no use when I am camping and lack internet connection.
- Text editor for taking notes and making website updates (DroidEditPro).
- English and foreign language dictionaries (ABBYY, Google Translate with offline data).
- Foreign language study tool (AnkiDroid).
- Secure storage of passwords (Keepass2Android).
- Various apps which provide cleaner interface than via web browser (Accuweather Pro, XE Currency Pro, banks, etc).
- Kayak, AirBnb, Booking.com, Uklon, Uber.
- Miscellaneous utilities (Find Device, Sony voice recorder, Meteor SpeedTest, Ampere battery measurement).
- Simple flashlight (I disabled builtin flashlight app in notification panel, using system UI tuner, because I sometimes accidentally turned it on during daytime, didn't notice, ran down battery).
Carry primary and spare phones, possibly different models. Topo maps should be downloaded to both phones to allow transition to spare when no internet connection available.
Phones must be unlocked and support both US and European frequency bands.
Phones should be protected by sturdy case. Case will not protect against slamming screen against rock. Primary phone normally carried in neckpurse, with screen against wallet or other soft objects. If not carrying neckpurse (such as at night in cities), phone carried in front pants pocket or in hanging wallet inside pants leg, in both cases with screen facing body. Backup phone carried inside backpack, protected by hanging wallet with piece of cardboard against screen.
Moto 5gs Plus (model XT1806), 170g, inside CoverON Tank case 75g, for total of 245g. Purchased Jan 2018. Initially running Android V7.1 "Nougat", updated in Oct 2018 to Android V8.1.1 "Oreo".
- 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core CPU; 650Mhz Adreno 506 GPU; 3GB RAM; 32GB storage; 3000 mAh battery; 5.5" 1920x1080 401ppi Gorilla Glass 3 screen; unlocked; GSM (850,900,1900,2100); 3G (850,900,1700,1900,2100); CDMA (800,850,1900); LTE (1,2,3,4,5,7,8,12,13,17,25,26,38,41,66); 8MP front camera; dual 13MP rear camera with LED flash; Nano-SIM; up to 128GB microSD; water-repellent coating; fingerprint reader; micro-USB port.
- Strong points: low power consumption due to lower resolution screen compared to high-end phones.
- Weak points: lousy camera; no NFC.
!!! IMPORTANT!!! Be very careful about security with smartphones/tablets. If your smartphone/tablet is NOT password protected, and financial and other critical websites are setup to send password resets to email account that is readily accessible from unprotected smartphone/tablet (either because you have an app that automatically logs onto email accounts or your browser remains logged on to web-based email accounts), then anyone who steals your smartphone/tablet will have ready access to those financial and other critical accounts.
- 2 x United States to continental europe socket adaptors, 10g each. 2 x elastic bands to secure adaptor to wall charger, since otherwise won't hold securely in wall socket, 5g for pair.
- 2 x Anker 24W Powerport 2, dual-port AC->USB wall charger with folding plug, 95g each. Generic USB chargers are notorious for shoddy design and manufacture, so worthwhile getting quality charger, even though it weighs more. Dual-port big advantage in Europe, where there is often shortage of wall outlets.
- 2 x 150cm USB cables at 40g each plus 2 x 15cm cables at 10g each. USB connection was designed so that male cable fails before female slot on device. So bring spares, since nuisance finding these for sale.
- 2 x Anker 10000mAh PowerCore USB power packs, 190g each including mesh sack, which offers some protection against shock. Only about 70% of nominal capacity actually usable, due to heat losses. Battery must be activated to charge other devices, and then automatically shuts off when current draw low, indicating device charged. Low power devices, such as bluetooth headphones, may not draw enough current during charging to prevent this automatic shut-off. Rechargeable lithium batteries will be destroyed if allowed to go to 0% charge state. Devices with lithium batteries inside (including external batteries, smartphone, ereaders) normally have circuitry to prevent battery from being drained to 0% charge, by shutting down at 5% charge. However, small amount of power is required to check battery state. So if device shuts down at 5% battery charge and then you repeatedly activate device to check battery state, eventually this 5% reserve will be exhausted, at which point battery will be destroyed. So once device using lithium batteries indicates empty battery, don't activate again until you have recharged. Chemicals within rechargeable lithium batteries will deteriorate if battery not discharged and recharged at least yearly. Some external batteries have a builtin flashlight which can be accidentally activated, causing the battery to drain. I would recommend avoiding batteries with this flashlight "feature".
- 2 x 128GB microSD cards containing backup of media files (music, photos, language recordings, ebooks), 2 x microSD-fullSD adapters, 2 x plastic cases. (Tool to open smartphone SIM/microSD port and alternate SIM cards can also be stored in these plastic cases, under the microSD-fullSD adapters.) 20g.
- Small bag with cordlock closure, for holding small electronic accessories, to reduce chance of losing them. 5g.
- 2 x 3.5mm corded earphones, for listening to music and language recordings during flights, bus trips and other situations where loudspeaker not allowed. 10g each.
- JBL Clip bluetooth speaker, with USB charging. For listening to music, since speakers on smartphone low-quality. 150g.
- Heavy-duty gear tie, to hold smartphone in place while taking selfies. 20g
Miscellaneous Smartphone Comments
- To record video inconspicuously, use front camera while facing away from scene being recorded.
- As of 2018, Android V7 "Nougat" still has some flakiness with removable microSD cards, especially writing to such cards. In particular, when I used Google Photos to delete a photo, it wiped out all user folders on microSD card! Apps must be given permission to write to removable microSD cards, separate from permission to write to internal storage, so possible to avoid problems by never giving such permission. Instead, use external microSD cards only for read-only media files (music, photos, language recordings, ebooks) and use internal storage for other files.
- Cloud storage okay for document files, and for backing up recent photos, but other media files too large for cloud storage using slow wifi connections common in hotels as of 2018, so microSD card support in phone mandatory. 128GB plenty, since my media files total under 80GB currently and I am only slowly adding new media files.
- 32GB internal storage required: 8GB for operating system, 6GB for app and their caches, 18GB for data, especially downloaded raster maps.
- To prepare for situation where smartphone unable to read external microSD card, such as because of damage to removable card tray, copy essential media files from microSD card to internal storage (especially trail guides needed for navigation while hiking).
- To prepare for situation where microSD card damaged or phone lost or stolen while traveling, carry several backup microSD cards.
- Use Calibre program on computer to convert kindle format books to epub format, to allow use with Moon+ ereader app, which is much better than Amazon Kindle app.