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#225721 - 06/11/11 05:11 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: Mark_R]
comms Offline

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Texts can get through in areas of poor reception and network congestion where calls get dropped or can't be made in the first place.

Chaosmagnet has made, I think, an important distinction here. I may be tiptoeing into obnoxious poster mode and if I am tell me, but I will continue to state that texts will work in poor cell or congested situations like the quote above also says, but will not work in no-service/no-reception areas. I'm not talking about no bar areas but no service available areas. I think a lot of people believe that both are the same thing.

I have attempted to send 100's of texts from my iPhone (at&t) and Blackjack (Sprint)over the years in no cell reception areas, to see if the text would cache and eventually send once I walked back into cell service. Sometimes I did this sitting literally just off the known reception range.

I have not had a single one go through with those two phones. Perhaps someone else has a phone or service plan that will continually loop texts in non reception areas until a minute single is established for a moment of time and the text is sent. If so let me know.

To flesh out the statement, in case i am not being understood, I know the limitations of at&t service very well. I've stood in the Grand Canyon and on tops mountains with no cell coverage only to have my friends chatting away on their phones. I have tried to send texts from my phone at that time as well (on my iPhone) and if they can't get out when you hit send, they don't go out automatically once you get back into coverage.
Don't just survive. Thrive.

#225725 - 06/11/11 05:59 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: comms]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2985
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: comms
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Texts can get through in areas of poor reception and network congestion where calls get dropped or can't be made in the first place.

I have tried to send texts from my phone at that time as well (on my iPhone) and if they can't get out when you hit send, they don't go out automatically once you get back into coverage.

Hmm, this is interesting. I need to test this with my phones. Wonder if it's a phone issue or a network issue? Seems like it should be something related to the phone.

#225758 - 06/12/11 09:51 AM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: dougwalkabout]
Chisel Offline

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 1361
My backup phone is a Nokia 1200 with torch light

At about $20-5, 10+ days battery life, voice and txt messaging, that is all I need for an emergency phone.

#225822 - 06/12/11 11:10 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2177
Loc: Bucks County PA
Originally Posted By: hikermor

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 spend an absurd amount of time working in the mobile development space, and I have more than a little interest in using the mobile network for emergency communications.

In the United States, mobile telephony service is fair to poor in general within urban and suburban areas, and poor to non existent in rural areas.

There are effectively only 2 networks with what approximates national coverage, AT&T's GSM based network, which has more physical infrastructure (towers) than Verizon, but because of the GSM network architecture, is more prone to dropping calls, and the Verizon CDMA network, which has a more stable call-handling capability, and thus less dropped calls. Both Sprint and T-Mobile are far behind ATT and Verizon in terms of network coverage.

That said, no matter what your network, texting - which uses the "control" channel of the network - will get through where voice calls won't. This is true no matter the carrier and/or underlying network system, and this is why it's never a good idea to cancel texting service on your phone - it might save your life.

In terms of phones, it's a huge tradeoff between battery life and functionality. Anything with a touch screen - an iphone or any of the zillions of android based smart phones - is going to be hugely useful on the one hand, since they are super-powerful computers that happen to make phone calls and send text messages, but that power comes at a huge cost in terms of battery life.

For many years I carried a Nokia 1100 - a phone that I'd charge every few days, a phone that made more than one trip through the laundry , and a phone that was often in my pocket on fire scenes. Any "candybar" form phone with a small, simple screen is going to have great battery life. I like any of the LG brand phones - they have great software and exceptional battery life.

I currently carry an iPhone 4, but I also carry a small LG 100C phone, it's got 10 days of standby time and 2.5 hours talk time. That's a prepaid from Tracfone and the underlying carrier is Verizon. That's how most of the prepaid companies, except Metro PCS work - they just resell minutes from the big carriers. Many prepaid carriers run on the smaller networks, I recommend only Tracfone as a prepaid company, it uses AT&T and Verizon. The LG 500C and 800C are also good, but the 500C is going to have better battery life than the 800. (the 500 has 9 days standby, compared to 8 days for the 800).

All smartphones share the following set of really handy features:

- Camera
- Local Data Storage
- Phone Calls
- Text Messages
- Email
- Web Access

Unfortunately there are two features that most Smartphones lack:
- Waterproof
- Shock Resistant

The Motorola DEFY is one, but as far as I can tell, it's only on T-Mobile, a carrier that only works within 150' of the center of the top 25 urban areas in the USA.

That's the only one I can find in the USA, there are others in the UK and Japan, but they won't work properly here.

Waterpoof cases for smartphones sort of help but they really make the phone cumbersome.

So, despite these drawbacks, I DO carry my iPhone basically all the time. When I'm working in the yard, I wrap my iphone in clear plastic wrap - keeps the sawdust out of the charging connector and keeps any mild water spray off it - and the touch screen works just fine.

In terms of charging, I have a solidus solar charging rig for pretty much anything, including the iphone, plus AA battery to USB port devices that help keep things charged up.

But in the end, I think that any Android or iOS device is going to give you all of the features you could want, and then some.

Oh, and one other thing - I've been using a Galaxy Tablet of late in a test to see if I like it better than the iPad, and I have to admit that I kind of like the Galaxy Tab a lot - more than I thought I would, and as a "tricorder" for today, it's actually quite a bit more useable than the iPad.

#225857 - 06/13/11 02:31 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: MartinFocazio]
Frisket Offline

Registered: 09/03/10
Posts: 640
Originally Posted By: MartinFocazio
it's actually quite a bit more useable than the iPad.

Not to start a war here but personally most alternatives to apple products in my opinion are more useable. They are often times more open and offer more features hardware wise with rarely any On purpose locking of features with requirements to pay more cash to unlock um. And yes Apple does this.

If you where to get a smartphone for survival means I would go with a Android based phone with a Micro SD slot. The useability for this is endless with added apps such as the google one that reads the stars via camera and GPS. Im sure that would be massively usefull on the open water and such if it works there.

#225864 - 06/13/11 04:00 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: Frisket]
Alex Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 1034
Loc: -
I'm with Martin and Frisket on the subject. My choice of a survival smartphone (in the N Cal) would be Android+Verizon. However if the rumored ATT+TMO merger will happen any time soon I would switch to ATT then. So, you can just go to Verizonwireless.com and select the size and features that appeal to you. I would strongly recommend the AMOLED screen models for an outdoors use. For the shockproof/splashproof casing look for the models that have cases from Otterbox - the best in the industry.

As an example I can suggest the Samsung Galaxy S. Though personally I prefer larger screens of HTC devices, this one is of a more traditional phone size.

#225865 - 06/13/11 04:02 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: hikermor]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1652
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
it seems that we have overlooked the basic tenet of radio theory... to hear a communication, you must first catch a radio wave with an antenna...the more multiples of the correct wave length you capture, the more voltage induced into the antenna... and then you can amplify that signal...if I lived in a rural area with sparse cell coverage, one of the external antenna with amplifiers would be a priority option, but most seem to balk on the cost...probably the same people that complain about the cost of a quality firearm...it seems like pretty cheap life insurance to me.... I live in a fairly cell rich environment, and did not loose cell comms until the generators started to run out of fuel in the 05 hurricane season(did not loose the land line)... but decided to "tune" up my cell for this upcoming season..upgraded the cell tower list, and roaming list..if you are a Verizon user *228, press send, and listen for option 2 for the roaming list, then restart...

I suppose an AN/FLR9 in the back yard is out of the question

#225869 - 06/13/11 04:21 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: Frisket]
Nomad Offline

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 483
Loc: Just wandering around.
I have a Droid X and love it. I have been staying out of this conversation until I got a chance to list some of the applications (apps) that I find useful as "survival" tools.

All of the warnings about no cell service, low battery life and such are recognized however I still find the device to be a very valuable addition to my gear. Mostly because I always have it with me. Also, I carry two additional batteries. Weigh almost nothing and provides all the power I am likely to need.

The idea of course is to avoid a problem situation and many of these apps give you a lot of help.

I intended to give a list of apps, but there are so many useful ones that to list even the best would be a task.

In general, the GPS works without cell coverage. There are lots of apps that let you download maps for offline use. So maps/gps are a valuable tool.

The built in compass works well and does not need cell service.

There is a walkie-talkie type app called "tikl" which allows you to create a talk group among smart phones (both android as well as apple phones). When you press the button, all phones in the group hear the call. Limited to 30 second messages (no problem) it is location independent. We have used it with several droids in one area and a couple of Iphones half a state away.

Reference manuals: So many are available that I have created quite a library. Most can be downloaded to the SD chip. Along with ones I find online, I have my normal equipment manuals for rsdios, GPS, etc... All easy to access and quite readable.

I could go on like this for a long time, but I need to get on with my day. We are in our pick-up camper deep in the Kaibab N.F. in Airzona. The droid will come along on our hikes. Oh another nice feature is automatic alerts from various agencies. It is fire season and getting an alert about area fires is realllllllly nice. Cell coverage here is very good and I use the internet many times on each hike.

Do I depend on it entirely for my survival needs? Of course not. I still carry a PLB, Ham Radio a second cell phone and all the rest of the stuff. But the Droid gets the most use.

...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

#225871 - 06/13/11 05:02 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: Frisket]
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2177
Loc: Bucks County PA
Originally Posted By: Frisket

Not to start a war here but personally most alternatives to apple products in my opinion are more useable.

Actually, as a guy who does a LOT of empirical usability testing with consumers, I disagree, based not on my own experience and opinion (which synchs up with yours quite a bit) but on the facts and evidence of hundreds upon hundreds of hours of workign with consumers on mobile devices.

When I say I use and carry mobile devices ALL THE TIME I mean it. To me left, a (no longer in use) Archos 9. To my right, a Galaxy Tab. In front of me, an iPad. In my left pocket an iPhone 4. On a charging stand there by the monitor, a Motorola Atrix.

Next week, the mix will be different (there's a bunch of tablets upstairs that I've not yet spent a great deal of time using) but I will be using different devices, all of which are trying to knock Apple from its throne. It's not easy!

On thing I'd disagree with you on is a MicroSD vs SD slot. I'd prefer an SD slot on a device - it's definitely more common on cameras and you can get a micro SD adapter to use Micro SD cards in a standard SD slot, not vice versa.

But the battery life....no matter what device...battery life is a mess.

#225872 - 06/13/11 05:09 PM Re: Survival Cellphones [Re: LesSnyder]
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2177
Loc: Bucks County PA
Originally Posted By: LesSnyder

I suppose an AN/FLR9 in the back yard is out of the question

That's for HFDF operations, don't think it would do well with microwaves... smile


But seriously, you'd really need something like this to actually boost your cell signal:

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