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Smartphone AFTER The ****

Discussion in 'Electronic Devices' started by reppans, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. reppans

    reppans Loaded Pockets

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    Hey all, noob here and I was wondering if many of you have thought through how you could use your smartphones AFTER the ****. I'm talking about after the cell phone towers have either shut down, or are so overloaded, there's no hope of receiving any data, making a call or even texting. So, assuming you still have a working smartphone (non-EMP event), but with no cell connection, will it become a paper weight.... or a tool?

    Here's what I've come up with so far, and I'm looking for more ideas and useful Apps from you good folks. BTW, I have an Iphone.

    - Voice recorder/Notepad for notes to self
    - Compass
    - Screen for illumination
    - Address book for location of friends and relatives
    - Camera and video cam for documentation. I often use the camera as a photocopy machine, for example, always taking a picture of the trailhead maps before starting a hike. Also keep photos of important documentation, in a password protected file if necessary (eg, PictureSafe).
    - PDF reader (Goodreader or iBooks). Lots of free product manuals, survival books, and fiction available. Here's a couple of sites for survival stuff clicky and clicky - choose your paranoia. Goodreader can display a PDF in pure text so you don't have to deal with the formatting of some PDFs on the small screen.
    - GPS. The iPhone's GPS chipset still works without a cell connection, although it will take longer to acquire your position. I'm using the MotionX GPS App which allows you to cache 250mb of maps in the phone, set at a zoom level of your choosing. I keep street level maps in a pretty large radius around where I spend 95% of my time (home/work/play), and I can download/delete maps of places that I may travel to. Even if you can't acquire satellites (ie, tree canopy), just having detailed maps cached can help with backroad routes if highways and major routes are gridlocked or ambush dangerous, whether your traveling by foot, bicycle or car.

    - Entertainment, of course, and lots it, provided you have a perpetual power source though........

    Smartphones are obviously useless without power, so if you plan on using yours for survival, you'll need back-up plans.

    Several years ago, I got fed up with proprietary Li-ion batts, and the need to carry dedicated back-up batteries and chargers for each portable electronic device, so I've consolidated all my electronics around Eneloop NiMh AAs. Radio, GPS, Digicam, UV water purifier, walkie-talkies, and flashlights/headlamps/lanterns. This allows you take just a few spares, and a single charger, that can feed all the devices. If that isn't enough you have the option of cannibalizing batts from another device, or picking some up at any store.

    Of course you can't get a AA smartphone, so I rely on a iGo AA back-up charger. Two Eneloops are good for about 1 full charge on my iPhone, or about 6 hours of use. My minimum on-person EDC includes 2AAs in the iGo charger and 2AAs in a Quark flashlight. If I'm taking a bag, I can carry a Powerfilm Solar AA charger thats about the size/weight of 2 packs of cigarettes, and can provide perpetual power. Lastly, there's always the 12V car charger. Although I believe a car will quickly be worthless in a **** scenario (grid-lock traffic, or no gas), I'm pretty sure there will be lots of abandoned cars with enough electrical power to charge up at.

    So, anyone got any other ideas for other uses/Apps in a disaster scenario? Any comments or criticisms? (Apologies for the long post.)
     
  2. Chocula

    Chocula Loaded Pockets

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    Unless there is an app that makes chicken wings and coke come out of the screen, a cellphone without reception won't help you survive. You are better off getting in shape and learning some basic skills like first aid and fire starting rather than sitting for hours at your computer trying to predict the future.
     
  3. jehan60188

    jehan60188 Loaded Pockets

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    chicken wings sound so good right now.
    i gotta stop late-night snacking...
     
  4. attorneyadrian

    attorneyadrian Loaded Pockets

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    I have the original droid.
    Assuming there's electricity, it'd turn into an entertainment device.
    Camera, MP3 player, games, etc.
    If there's no electricity, its thin and would probably skip across a pond pretty well.
     
  5. Cobra 6 Actual

    Cobra 6 Actual Loaded Pockets

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    Hi Reppans --

    You may be a Noobie, but you've given some careful thought to the topic. Frankly, my first reaction was that I'd have better things to do with my time. But, absent an EMP incident, I think I could still have uses for my smartphone. The two that you mentioned that may be the most useful are the GPS and the camera to store documents.

    And, for an incident that is several degrees less than the EOTWAWKI, such as a localized disaster, the smartphone may serve in several other roles. By the way, I do have a solar charger for mine. Good thought-provoking post.
     
  6. cameraman

    cameraman Loaded Pockets

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    I agree with Saitta and attorneyadrian: provided you have electricity, a smartphone still retains a lot of functionality outside of its primary intended purpose (as a phone). For instance, my iPhone is "also" a shot timer, calculator (which I desperately need), calendar, e-reader, ballistics calculator, dictionary, photo album, and entertainment device (sudoku, crosswords, Angry Birds, iPod, etc). Just because the functionality of the phone, email, and Internet is no longer available doesn't mean that the phone is useless.

    That was a pretty thoughtful post, Reppans. Now I need to look into the AA-charger you mentioned, not only for the situation you outlined but for travel, as well.
     
  7. Bard

    Bard Loaded Pockets

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    props on the post. thanks for the info as well. idle curiosity, though. do you find your rechargables to have short overal lifespans after ten or more charges? im not one of those people that has to recharge the rechargables in the recharger allREtheCHARGEbloodyABLEtime, but i cant seem to make them last, so i usually stick to disposables.

    im sure somewhere, someone has an electrical and communications engineer in their pocket as EDC and we can cannabalize the nextel technology for all the smartphones after during the PAW.
     
  8. enine

    enine Loaded Pockets

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    What rechargeables and charger are you using? I ran into similar a few years ago, I had bought a rayovac charger fromwalmart and it wasn't until a couple years laterI learned that it didn't fully charge the cells, then add to that before low self discharge nimh they would self discharge pretty fast. I went to lithim for a while then bought a decent charger and cells and they work fine.
     
  9. reppans

    reppans Loaded Pockets

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    Guess I pitched this post too much toward the 0.01% disaster scenario. Truth is my minimalist EDC was put together for realistic use and based on actual experience - my 99.99% scenario if you will (YMMV). About the only things wasted toward the 0.01% disaster scenario being some thought, and the survival manual downloads.

    I'm an ultra-light camper (backpack, bicycle, kayak) and life-long sport-touring motorcyclist. I find myself frequently off-grid, with weak or no cell service, and in potentially dangerous/life-threatening situations. I also work in Manhattan and was there for 9/11, the blackout that took down the entire Eastcoast, and a few other terrorist scares, which essentially locks the entire island down to all but foot traffic. With only my pocket/belt EDC, some water, and a pair of Rollerblades I keep in a desk draw, I could pretty much make it anywhere, day or night, in a 30 mile radius without much effort.

    Agree with enine.... sounds like you may even be running older NiCads with memory issues, or newer cheap no-name batts. Invest in a good smart charger, low self-discharge Sanyo Eneloop NiMh batts, and multi-meter, and you'll never go back to disposables. You can read up on Candlepowerforums for everything you wanted to know about rechargeables.
     
  10. Highvalleyranch

    Highvalleyranch Loaded Pockets

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    I still carry a centro phone (because I can on the pay as you go cheap phone service) and of course it has the whole palm PDA thing.
    But one reason I like it is that I can carry a bunch of spare batteries and pop them in, instead of having to worry about recharging the iphone thing.
     
  11. fire65

    fire65 Loaded Pockets

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    I and you will have more to worry about than cell phones. Unless you are living home with mom and dad paying all the bills, then you probably have no idea what will be going on. Really if you are worried about a cell phone, you do have no idea what will be priority. Try shelter, food, water and protection. Oh, your video games will probably not work either.
     
  12. scríbhneoir
    • Administrator

    scríbhneoir Uber Prepared
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    Play nice, folks.

    :peg2:
     
  13. enine

    enine Loaded Pockets

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    They are most usefull is the more localized situations. A co-worker of mine had to bug out last week when the ice storm killed power to his whole neighborhood, they ended up having to go out and find a hotel. Smartphone is handy because you can find all the hotels within a radius of your current location, so just drive down the road and search and tap on the results. Have you tried dialing 411 lately, outsourced like everything else.
     
  14. iacchus

    iacchus Loaded Pockets

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    If cell towers are down, cell phones aren't going to do much good, really. A shortwave radio would be sorta important, at least that has been my disaster experience.
    I have been meaning to look into satellite phones, though.
     
  15. mchlwise

    mchlwise Loaded Pockets

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    I've got a similar set up right now.

    The phone part of the phone will obviously not do much good without the network, but I think a lot of people discount how very useful many devices are these days. They're not just a phone, it's like a pocket computer. I've got a .pdf reader and a library of survival books, and lots of other useful apps that don't require a network to work. They don't take the place of basic knowledge in a ***** situation, but even then there will be "down time", probably lots of it, wherein you can keep learning stuff or brush up on old stuff.

    The one thing these devices DO need is electricity to charge them up.

    I'm looking right now at a larger powerfilm with a cigarette lighter adapter that would charge my phone and anything else with a 12v connector, and would charge up the car battery as well. The car won't be much good, but pull the battery out and keep it charged and you will have a source of continual power.
     
  16. mrpink

    mrpink Banned

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    at least after the **** we dont have to worry about updates
     
  17. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    I actually found the iPhone to be largely useless when I was traveling overseas where I couldn't roam (Japan, where apparently AT&T has no roaming agreement with SoftBank). I did have occasional but very rare access to WiFi but for the most part it was dead weight.

    What one thing I did use it for was for a calculator for currency conversion and the compass, as you allude to in your post. I did use the camera on some occasions but as I carried a regular P&S camera there were very few moments when I'd choose the iPhone over that. I found GPS was not very useful as I had no map data stored and often it hard a hard time finding itself when no wireless signal was offered, even on top of Mt. Fuji.

    In a real *HTF scenario, I would shelve the iPhone immediately in place of gadgets that do not rely so heavily on infrastructure, like my handheld GPS and actual flashlight. In a pinch a smartphone is better than nothing but it is far, far from ideal.
     
  18. tso

    tso Loaded Pockets

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  19. reppans

    reppans Loaded Pockets

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    There's no question that purpose built devices: digicam, handheld GPS, tactical flashlight, ebook reader, net book.... etc, etc. are much, much better at what they do than any smartphone. The question is whether any or all of these items will be on your person when you might actually need them, and/or if you can get to them in an emergency. I'm pretty sure a cell phone will be available, as that seems to make most people's absolute minimum EDC list.

    The point of this thread is only to highlight the fact that a smartphone, with a bit of preparation, could be a little more useful than a dead weight, even without cell service.

    In your example, a $1 app and a few map downloads before you left, could have left you with a fully working GPS with street level maps of the greater Tokyo area. And having lived there for a couple of years, I know that would be very helpful, esp. if the *HTF. In my experience, a GPS it takes quite a long time to acquire a new position (ie, on different continent), but then acquisition gets much faster depending upon how far you moved since last acquisition.... I believe the GPS apps work somewhat differently than the built-in Google Map App.
     
  20. tso

    tso Loaded Pockets

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    Problem is that the success of the Google model of delivery is driving most of the other companies out of the market. This because Google can update their data instantly for free while the other companies have made a business of selling the device cheap but the maps at a premium. And most go for Google as being offline is for them as foreign as a outhouse or no electricity is for the modern urbanite.