I Bought A Phone

I bought a new cell phone this week.  As with every cell phone purchase I have ever made, it was instigated by my wife informing me that she was embarrassed to be seen with me using the phone I currently owned.  Apparently, I hang on to cell phones much too long.  My excuse for keeping my phone – that it still works and does what I want it to do – is not sufficient.  When I walk the streets with my “ancient” phones (i.e., one that was perfectly acceptable two, three, or four years ago), I have the same look as a middle-aged man wearing black socks with shorts.  I don’t mind that look, but I don’t want to be an embarrassment to family members, so I acquiesce.

I now have the newest, coolest, phone on the market – a 4G iPhone.  “G” stands for “generation,” meaning this is the 4th generation of this phone.  My previous phone was an LG (which has nothing whatsoever to do with generations) that I purchased in 2008.  The iPhone is significantly different and more capable, which leaves me wondering how this will impact my cycling.

I always take my phone with me when I ride.  Since I ride alone almost always, this is my lifeline to civilization and assistance (aka, my wife).  Normally, all I want my phone to do is to act like a phone.  By that, I mean I need the device to give and receive phone calls.  Pretty simple, right?  It worked well for me.  Now, I have at my disposal a mini computer with greater power than an Apollo Program space ship.  The question is, how to take advantage of it.

Barcelona? Man, I'm lost!

My first notion was that I would never be lost again.  The phone has a GPS device that very quickly identifies where you are on the Earth’s surface.  You can even type in a destination and it helpfully plots a route for you.  I must admit that getting lost (and then “unlost”) is an adventure I occasionally enjoy, so there may be times when I refuse to let technology get me out of a tight fix.  Still, its good to know it’s there should things become extremely dire.  By the way, if you haven’t paused recently to thank the U.S. military-industrial complex for designing and launching into space the constellation of GPS satellites which we now use almost daily, now would be an appropriate time to do so.

Turns black & white flowers into color!

Next, my thoughts turned to my camera.  My old cellphone had a camera, but it was about as intuitive to operate as an abacus.  The iPhone camera is a piece of cake to use and easily emails the photos I take.  So do I still need to bring my regular camera with me in addition to my iPhone?  I’ll do some tests – the iPhone’s camera is only 5 mega pixels (versus the 15 from my current camera) so if the quality suffers, I may still carry my trusty digital camera.

Of course, the iPhone can play music and I’ve successfully downloaded almost three days of audio from my iPod.  Some folks like to listen to music while they ride, however I am not one of them.  Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the capability.  Who knows – perhaps I’ll break down 60 miles from home and will want to amuse myself with my 1980s mix playlist while waiting for my wife to come get me.

Bike broken down by the side of the road? There's an app for that.

But that’s just the surface of the iPhone’s potential.  Most of the world is already familiar with the applications (or “apps”) that can be downloaded for the iPhone.  Many of these are free.  I’ve discovered several, including apps which chart your ride data, ones which help you repair your bike, an app for the Strava social networking site (reviewed here by Matt Gholson), and even one that will help you select the right number of teeth for your gears should you desire to build your own drive train.

Rugged enough?

I am also concerned about the welfare of my phone.  Something this delicate – with a large glass window  – would surely be susceptible to damage when stowed in my cycling jersey.  What happens when I drop it, crush it when falling off my bike, sweat on it, get it wet in the rain, or scrape other junk in my pocket against it?  There are several rather formidable cases for the phone which should protect it against falling/crushing/scratching, but I remain worried about sweat and rain.

Obviously, there’s plenty to chew on here.  It should make for some mildly interesting tinkering in the months ahead.


36 thoughts on “I Bought A Phone

  1. Welcome to the iPhone converts, I recently swapped my BlackBerry for an iPhone 4 and I am loving it and all it can do.. I got it after first getting hold of an iPad. They work together well.. I take photos on my phone and they appear by magic on my iPad as well.
    Enjoy the journey of exploration…. wait until you start trying out all the available ‘apps’.. 😉

    • Thanks, Brian. I’m hoping the photos are good enough for me because the iPhone is bigger and heavier than my old phone and I really don’t want to continue carrying my digital camera unless I really need to!

    • Thanks for the tip. I’ve occasionally done this with my old phone when rain threatened and I’m glad to hear it works well for the “modern” phones as well.

  2. I also just made the decision to upgrade my phone. I went from a basic cell with text capability to an android with data package. I hate the actual phone, but love the potential. I’ll be swapping it for an iphone this weekend. My first career was as a scientist, so I love the GPS tracking data I can get for distance and elevation. I can see this becoming an obsession.

    • It’s a neat concept – cloud computing and all that jazz. I already get the GPS tracking data with my Garmin, so some of that functionality is a little duplicative for me. The biggest difference is I don’t see the feedback on the Garmin until I’m done with my ride and I download the data to my computer. The phone lets me see where I’m at immediately – a nice plus when I’m not sure where I’m at!

    • I can’t see how you are managing to survive in your current state. For goodness sake, get the upgrade immediately!

      Your wife doesn’t have my address and/or phone number, correct? If she does, I’ll want to ammend the previous statement.

  3. Steve, I could chide you for taking so long to get an iPhone but I’ll save that for another day! Welcome. There are tons of fun apps for sure, iMapMyRide+ is one that I used all the time before getting my Garmin. Works brilliantly. Re: the photography, I find the iPhone 4 perfectly acceptable for the quick and dirty pics on most rides. If you want to have some fun, get Instagram, a free app that allows you to apply a myriad of filters to photos and post them immediately (or not) to Facebook, Twitter etc). Also the HD video is very acceptable, but you’ll want to get a GoPro Hero for true professional “on the bike” films. Have fun with it!

    • I don’t think I’m ready to make the jump to professional on the bike films. The first requirement is you need to be doing something worth filming, and I usually fall short in that regard.

  4. It would appear you and I are more alike than I thought. I too was a phone and gadget Luddite until my old Company supplied us with iPhones. Now I don’t know what I would do without it. Its usefullness seems endless!

    I have used any number of cycling apps until I got a Garmin Edge, which were the Dog’s. (Dog’s Bollocks – meaning great). If you would like any recommendations please don’t hesitate to ask.

    As for phone protection, I have a rubberised case and keep my phone in a plastic bag in my pocket while pedalling. Never had any issues with the elements or damage so far.

    Oh, and thank you Uncle Sam for the GPS thingy!

    • I’m not sure what is exceptional about the private parts of a canine, but I will take you at your word. I’m thinking the rubberized case with plastic bag is the way to go.

  5. I have an android phone. I have used a few different GPS tracking apps. Until one day I was shooting for my longest ride to date and about half way through the ride I lost the GPS and it didn’t come back automatically. Needless to say I was a bit bummed I didn’t track the whole ride. So this got me thinking. There has got to be away to mount this sucker to my handle bars so I can keep a check on it. There sure is. Especially for the Iphones. Just google Iphone handle bar mounts. As far as mounts for the android phone I have, haven’t found a mount yet.

  6. You sound like my hubby. I made him get a new phone when I witnessed him driving all over the road. I want him alive. Who would bike with me if he was injured?!?!? Seriously.

    I love my iPhone. I think you can get stuff to work a heart rate monitor and track your cycling miles. 😀

  7. …..very interesting thoughts. My (relatively) ancient mobile has lost the ability to text, so I’m forced to update. Never being one for jumping in for the latest invention, I find myself still waiting for the perfect bit of kit that will do absolutely everything…….phone, text, camera, GPS, email, blogging…… so that, when I go on major expeditions (usually solo) I have one bit of technology and one charger (I’m a lightweight freak). Is the 4G iPhone that perfect bit of kit?

    • I wish I could advise you, but since I have taken it on just two short evening rides I’m hardly an expert! It certainly seems good, except it will probably be bigger than your old phone. I’ve not attempted blogging with it, but I suspect anything other than simple text entries will be challenging.

      • WordPress has a decent app for blogging just text, which I have done a couple times, but it is little difficult to add pictures, media, etc. I’ve done it before, but it takes about twice as long and you really need to know HTML.

        Frank – I would say the IPhone is probably what you are looking for.

    • Frank … I blog from my iPhone all the time. WP has an ap for it that works like a CHARM! You can post photos and everything. Yesterday’s post was a short iPhone blog with pics because I just had to get out and enjoy the day!

      I personally think the iPhone is the BEST! I am a mac girl though.

      • Is that the official WP app you’re talking about? I’ve had all sorts of trouble blogging from my phone with it, but it works better from the iPad. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

        A friend tells me there is a very good 3rd party app that blogs better than all of them. Wish I wrote down the name.

      • aaron — wish you had written down the program too!! 🙂 I use my WP app just fine. I don’t think it is super great or anything. I could see how it would be good from iPad, but I would rarely have an iPad with me on a walk/Jog/ride where I always have my phone. If you read my post from yesterday you would see it was short as are all my WP-iPhone posts.

    • Thanks! The great thing about being one of the last guys to get a technology is everyone else has figured out the good stuff for you. You should have seen me when DVDs were invented!

  8. I’m afraid I’ll remain a luddite for some time to come, my mobile does all I need at the moment, I’ve had it for three years or more. Anyway, I struggle to use my PC and Notebook, a new 4G mobile would be too much to handle. But then, I’m an old fuddie duddie .

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