Battery life, nothing else matters

Tea

Storage? I am Storage!
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I am thinking about getting a smartphone. Really, there is only one reason for this - the woefully primitive state of GPS satellite messaging devices like these - http://www.rei.com/category/40005158

I am perfectly happy with my steam-driven phone in all other respects. I have real web-enabled computers everywhere and only need a phone for (gasp!) phone calls, and I get almost a week between charges.

Sadly, I really need an EPIRB (emergency satellite beacon for outback trips to remote areas), but an EPIRB is all or nothing. I can trigger it and have the police or emergency services come looking for me, probably with a helicopter, and you can imagine the size of the bill they would present! Or I can not trigger it and muddle through on my own. Often, all you really need is a lower-level contact - for example, to get someone to drive out with a tow truck 'coz we broke the car, or simply to call home and say "happy birthday" or "we are stuck behind a flooded river and will be a week longer than expected".

Of course, there are always satellite phones. They cost $1000-$2000 up front (which I could bear) but also $30 a month minimum with horrendously expensive calls - try $1.50 per call plus $1.00 every 30 seconds. If you are in the outback, that's no problem, but the calls are so expensive that have to have an orthodox phone as well day to day. So that's out.

And this brings me to the peculiar world of GPS satellite messaging devices. They cost $200ish to $500ish (which is fine) and depending on the model, you get just the emergency beacon service; that plus GPS; or both those plus SMS/email service. It costs about $100 a year to subscribe (that is no problem) plus a small amount for each message you send. It is send-only, there is no facility to get messages of any kind. I can live with that. That last option would be ideal - my old GPS is well overdue for replacement.

The trouble is that these damn things have excruciatingly primitive UIs - so primitive that you pretty much have to send your messages using the ungodly combination of a GPS satellite messaging device, a smartphone (either Android or the other one), and bloody Bluetooth. (The only thing I know for sure about Bluetooth is that it never bloody works when you need it to.)

Anyway, if I do go this way, I'll need a damn phone. I want long battery life just like my real phone, and can't think of anything else that I actually care about at all. Oh, just one thing, a keyboard that is usable, by which I mean QWERTY.

One more idea: maybe I could keep my phone and buy a tablet for the sat thing instead? That would only be practical if it didn't have to have a SIM card (I'm damned if I'm paying for two monthly phone services).

Errrr .... but if that worked, then I could actually just get a smartphone, even someone's old cast-off, and use that to talk to the satellite thingy, leaving it switched off most of the time 'coz it wouldn't be needed till the end of the day to send a message home.

Agggargh! It's all too hard.

Anyway, I would be interested to read any comments you all feel like making about smartphones for people who can't see much point in having one in the first place.
 

ddrueding

Fixture
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Many tablets support Bluetooth, and many support actual QWERTY keyboards without monthly plans. Smartphones do draw lots of power, but not nearly as much if they are off. Some are waterproof (or can be put in waterproof cases). I can't speak to what is available there, but our field operators use these. But this one looks damn sexy. You will probably want more battery. I just ordered one of these, and will have a report after a bit.
 

P5-133XL

Xmas '97
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Salem, Or
Solar battery charger with a spare battery and then you won't care nearly as much about battery longevity and can get whatever device works for you.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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The Samsung Note II is as far as I know the only smartphone with a genuine two-days-of-normal-use battery. But I have no idea what that translates to in terms of your needs.
I've heard tales of Blackberry devices with very good battery life but as I understand it BB's GPS/navigation options leave a lot to be desired.
 

mubs

Storage? I am Storage!
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Smartphones typically gorge on batteries because all functions are on by default always: GPS, Wi-Fi, Mobile Data (3G/4G), Bluetooth. A bigger hog is the largse diaply they come with. Turning them off extends battery life many x times. I have all these turned off all the time, and turn on or or more for a few minutes only when needed. My Samsung Galaxy Grand comes with a very convenient toggle for all these that is accessible from the home screen. There's not much you can do about the display other than buying a device with a smaller display (say, 3.5" vs 5"), turning down the brightness, and shrinking the auto display off to say, 15 secs.

Of course no smartphone will ever give you the battery life that a feature phone can. So be prepared to see the current one week shrink to two, 2.5 days even with all the communications features turned off.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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Conversely, the Note 2 has an enormous screen, but because of different expectations of its form factor, it also has an even more enormous battery.
 

LunarMist

I can't believe I'm a Fixture
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I rarely use the smartphone for phone calls and don't even know the number.
 

Howell

Storage? I am Storage!
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Chattanooga, TN
What is it you actually want to accomplish? Send/recieve of messages (text only?) from a place where only satellite can reach? And you don't yet have form factor requirements? And you want as much battery as you can get?
 
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