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#225594 - 06/10/11 12:01 AM Survival Cellphones
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6788
Loc: southern Cal
Cell phones are basically ubiquitous these days and, among other things, they are changing the ways in which search and rescue operations are being conducted. Although not an avid user, I find I carry and use mine more and more, pleasantly surprised at some of the very marginal places where I can get service.

For the informed prepper, what are the models, networks, and apps of the proliferating smart phones that should be considered for a potential survival situation? Battery life would be a definite consideration, I would think.

I would be most interested in the optimum set of features, the "sweet spot" that is the best combination of characteristics considering the costs involved, and I suppose it would be worthwhile to consider the top of the line, price is no object, absolutely perfect phone to pack into the woods and carry away from the home...
Geezer in Chief

#225601 - 06/10/11 12:47 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
Byrd_Huntr Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 1174
Loc: MN, Land O' Lakes & Rivers ...
I posted this picture on another thread. My preference is the simplest, smallest, cheapest phone available with a camera. This one, a Samsung flip phone from T-Mobile cost me $10 and works anywhere my BlackBerry does. It hangs on my belt or pack by the red knob, has no complicated features to crash or drain the battery. I had the carrier disable text, web, and photo transmitting features. I have heard that some SAR request a cell phone photo, but believe me, in this area there are no real mountains, and one lake or one pine tree looks pretty much like the other in a cell phone shot. If the phone gets broken, a new one is...$10.

Phone lanyard.jpg (319 downloads)

The man got the powr but the byrd got the wyng

#225608 - 06/10/11 01:43 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
Teslinhiker Offline

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1386
Around here, the term "survival cellphone" is a bit of a misnomer. With the high local mountains and only a few major corridors (roads, highways) that traverse them, coverage is very spotty even in the metro area. Here you can be on a mountain and within visual sight of a city and not have any cell coverage. The local SAR is always telling people that you cannot depend on a cell to save your life in these parts.

Once you get out of the metro area, cell coverage is next to none. On our trip this past weekend, there was no cell coverage for well over a hundred miles, and this is on a major highway. In these areas, whether you are driving or out hiking in these areas and run into trouble, then you might as well be on the moon as help will not be forthcoming anytime soon. It is for these reasons that I always carry a PLB and also looking at the new SPOT 2 for daily message comms. The soon to be released Delorme inReach that DR posted info on, also looks promisinng.

Regardless with the above in mind, I always carry a cell (Android based) with an extra battery along with a wall charger, car charger and also a USB cable that allows the batteries to be charged just about anywhere because as much as I like it, my cellphone is heavy on the battery usage.

Another nice feature and not directly survival related, the phone allows our laptops to be tethered when there is no internet connection, but there is cell service. Although not as fast as broadband connection, it is still much faster then dial-up.

As for installed apps, there is Google Maps, Google Earth, Google My Tracks along with several offline saved maps of the area(s) we would be visiting/hiking etc. Several different GPS programs, first aid manual, the SAS survival manual in pdf format etc.

Although I don't own an Iphone, this website I frequent has a good collection of outdoor related apps.

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

#225609 - 06/10/11 02:26 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1544
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
a couple of questions for you that live in marginal cell reception areas...(1) did you perceive any loss of signal when you switched from an external pull out antenna to a phone design with an internal antenna?...(2) do you perceive any change in signal strength if you hold your phone vertical to the ground as opposed to the roughly 45degree most phones are held? ...(3) have you tried any of the cell phone booster amps or external antennas?

after the 04 hurricane season I did a lessons learned session with my students, and for those that retained cell reception there was a perception that those with older pull out antennas had better reception indoors...not enough had remembered to try the phone vertical to give any validity

#225610 - 06/10/11 02:41 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
sotto Offline

Registered: 06/04/03
Posts: 450
Within 10-15 mins where I often hike the canyons, you can go from excellent cell signals (TMobile) to no service. You can even see dozens of houses and be on a paved roadway and no cell service. Go 2 miles down the road and you've got a full signal again.

I just downloaded what looks like a new great app to my HTC G2 Android phone called SOS from the Red Cross, complete with 32 videos about how to handle the usual first-aid emergencies.

#225612 - 06/10/11 03:11 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: sotto]
Richlacal Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/11/10
Posts: 778
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Funny,My cheapy Nokia from T-mobil works in Temescal,Topanga,Tuna,Las Flores,Carbon,Crosscreek,& Coral Canyons at 1/2 power even,but it doesn't function too well in Baldwin hills or Hollywood hills(Mulholland) at full power & there are Cell towers on Mulholland/Cahuenga,Mulholland/405fwy!

#225617 - 06/10/11 04:26 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
Mark_R Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 853
Loc: Southern California
Any basic phone with the ability to send/receive texts and the longest battery life you can find. Back it up with an emergency charger or spare battery.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane

#225619 - 06/10/11 06:30 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
Ian Offline

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 198
Loc: Scotland
Have a look at the motorola f3 fone.

Designed for the third world and for use by illiterates. Bombproof.

#225647 - 06/10/11 03:14 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: Byrd_Huntr]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Originally Posted By: Byrd_Huntr
I had the carrier disable text

Might want to re-think that choice.

#225650 - 06/10/11 03:26 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]

In any natural desaster, be it storms or earthquakes, cell towers have been knocked out of service.
Gov. can easly shut them down also.
Depending on cell phones in such emergencys is the wrong thinking.
A person must expect to be WITHOUT comms for some time.

Often I wonder how I was able to live as long as I have without all the gadgets.

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