Another Pleasant Day

The calendar insists that it is late January, but the weather begs to differ.  I was able to zip about the area in shorts yesterday, which was a big boost to morale.  I’ve also cycled 50 miles more than last January with a few days left to go – a testament to the improved weather rather any improved dedication on my part.

I know you are desperate to learn my first impressions of the iPhone while cycling, so let me delay you no further:

The first thing I noticed is that full-fingered gloves won’t operate the phone, meaning I need to take my glove off every time I want to use it.  Bummer.  My wife (the runner) has a nifty set of running gloves which feature a silver-tipped index finger which enables iPhone use.  If there is such a thing for cycling gloves, I haven’t seen it yet.

I brought my digital camera with me and took two pictures of the same scene, which I now present for your consideration:

Casio Exilim Camera


There is some loss in clarity with the iPhone, but nothing terrible.  The biggest disadvantage is the lack of a zoom lens, meaning I’d better be pretty close to the things I want to take pictures of.  It was also a bit of a hassle taking off my glove and getting the iPhone out of the plastic bag I was carrying it in to prevent water damage.  The camera does not require such protection and can be operated while fully gloved.  Advantage: camera.

I fired up the Strava app, which acts as a cycling computer and allows me to post my ride online for others to see and chat about.  Strava also creates stretches of road known as “segments” where people can compare times against each other.  This was a disappointment.  The app said my ride was a half mile longer than my Garmin reported, which was extremely disconcerting to a guy who is particular about his ride stats.  I double-checked the distance with MapMyRide and it agreed with the Garmin.  Additionally, I didn’t get credit for doing any segments, despite there being two on my route.  The only possible explanation is that I was riding on the road while the segments appear to be on the mixed-use pathway on the other side of the road.  Sigh.

Finally, running the app for a two-hour ride almost drained my battery.  The phone was not fully charged at the beginning of the ride, but it does reinforce in my mind the necessity of being mindful of your battery life when running apps.  I suspect a full charge would last only six or seven hours when being used continuously by a cycling app.  This makes its use on centuries questionable.

So it was a less than steller beginning for the iPhone, but it wasn’t a disaster either.  I’m fully committed to getting the most out of it as I have no other choice.  I’m sure it will only improve as I figure out all the many benefits I can gleen from it.


29 thoughts on “Another Pleasant Day

  1. I’m with you — love this weather!

    You are better off uploading your Garmin data directly to Strava. It is a lot more accurate that way. The iPhone GPS is just not as reliable. I wouldn’t bother with the app. Use Cyclemeter instead, if anything.

    That battery life is not good. Are you closing programs that you are not using? I would think that after 2 hours, you would be around 70%. Maybe the Strava app is hurting. You might considering getting a battery life extender like Mophie Juice Box. It is useful for very long rides and also serves as a sturdy case. I don’t bother with a plastic bag unless it is raining hard. The jersey pocket gives you more protection than you might expect. My iPhone has survived hundreds of rides.

    • I had a slight typo, Aaron. I met to write my battery was NOT fully charged at the start of the ride! Still, I could see a significant drain over two hours which leads me to believe the best I can do is about seven hours of continuous use, much like the iPod I own.

  2. Lucky you with the weather. Not much snow here in Toronto, but the icy roads & strong winds are deal-breakers! Your phone camera quality is much better than mine. Any sort of “data” feature on my phone drains the batteries out too. I’ve now only resorted to emergency calls and the occasional pictures with my phone on days when I want to travel light.

    • You can choose HD or regular photography for stills and video (at least on mine you can). This is on regular setting. The photo was 3.3 Megabytes in size, which I thought was quite large for a “simple cell phone camera.”

  3. Thanks for that side-by-side comparison of the photos–really enlightening. Agree on the weather–I got in 26+ miles yesterday and am over 100 for the month, and that is an absolute miracle for someone who has never ridden in winter!
    Wish my new Edge 500 would record the temps more accurately, though. It’s consistently 10-15 degrees high. It’s the one function that is way off (and not an important one, fortunately).

    • My Edge is finicky at the extremes. It never wants to tell me it is colder than 28 degrees or warmer than 102 degrees. I guess it doesn’t think I can handle very bad news!

  4. I carry my iphone 4G when I cycle. It has a zoom. Place two fingers on the screen, pinch apart, a zoom slider appears. Move slider to zoom. Like you I was carrying a point and shoot and a phone at first but he convenience factor of the iphone has won over. I still use my Garmin 305 watch for GPS, heartrate and cadence.

  5. The iphone battery life WAS a problem until I found a battery booster for the iphone. It’s a small pack containing 4-AA batteries and it plugs into the phone. The GPS works while the phone is recharging. I use it on long rides (centuries). I just stick the phone with the charger in a small bag behind my seat. I discovered the charger when I was looking for recharge solution for my lights. The same charger will recharge my Cygolites since they are USB charged. I use two and rotate them. Charge one and ride with one – endless light. I use rechargeble AA’s in the boost pack and carry 2 extra sets.

    • Interesting. I don’t think I could fit my phone in the tiny saddle bag I have. That limited space is currently holding a spare inner tube, CO2 cartridge and spoke wrench. I guess the simple solution would be to buy a larger saddle bag, wouldn’t it? 🙂

  6. I have an iPhone 4s Steve and to activate the zoom facility you place two fingers on the screen and open them out or pinch them in zoom in or out. The same with viewing pictures or webpages on the phone.

    It looked like a nice day for a ride.. !

    • I just tried it, Brian, and the zoom behaves precisely as you and 365Cyclist describe. Thanks to both of you!

      (And to those who may be thinking that Brian didn’t read 365Cyclist’s post, I hadn’t moderated it yet when Brian offered his suggestion.)

    • For me, ride stats are PART of the enjoyment, Frank! It lets me reminisce on old rides and reflect on accomplished achieved and not achieved. But I do get your point – if all we care about are the stats then we can do that quite nicely on a trainer!

  7. Great comparison on the two cameras. I notice that the non-iPhone shot has sharper detail and the camera also picked out the car that appears to be missing in the iPhone image. Obviously too much for the iPhone to process.

    Some Sunday evening humour for those of you who thought I was a total plonker!

    • LOL! I must confess that the two photos were taken NEAR simultaneously and the missing car can be accounted for by the time lapse between pics and not due to the fewer megapixels in the iPhone.

  8. The weather has been awesome. Though I don’t have the iphone, I use an ipod when touring and the booster gives me extra days. My draining app: Words with Friends. Even while touring, I have to feed my addiction;0D

    • Congratulations on you’re successful group ride. I suspect it will only get larger when the warmer weather comes. Words With Friends has taken over my family as well – especially my wife!

    • You’re almost certainly right. There seems to be an app for everything. However the flaw in your proposal is the assumption that I would ever be finished with nice weather!

  9. I’ve got an IPhone 3GS that I carry on every ride I take. In fact many of the pictures on my blog are taken with it (I’m not gonna tell which ones!). From my perspective, the camera is adequate, but not on par with my camera. It will zoom, but gets so grainy that I don’t usually use the pics, so unless a wide angle shot is good, forget it!

    I’ve used several of the mapping applications while running, but on my phone the GPS is a big battery killer, making it pretty impractical for cycling. I’ll stick to my garmin and camera, but in a pinch, the phone is better than nothing.

    • I used to have a 3GS and the pictures were not terrific. I think Steve has a 4S, which has 8 megapixels, while the 3GS has 3. I have the 4 which has 6 (I think) and they are mostly fine.

      Zooming does compromise picture quality. That’s my major gripe about the camera, but aside from that, it does the job.

      • I do have a 4S with 8 megapixels (against 15 in my digital camera). Other limitations are the “zoom” is only digital (not optical) and there is no wide angle lens capability. Still, it’s pretty good considering this is only one of a great many features on a single device.

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