RVing and my new smartphone

 RVing and my new smartphone

I’ve switched smartphones and it’s all because of RVing.

I now use the Samsung Galaxy S 4. I traded my iPhone 5 in at my local Verizon store and now am tasked with learning a new system. I feel a little guilty about it. I have been told that the iPhone I bought at 6PM EST on June 29, 2007 was the first one sold. It was part of a TV live shot I was doing and I had stood all night long, first in a long line. Working with the manager of at AT&T store, we arranged for me to be standing at the counter and my credit card was processed at 6:00:08.

Regardless, I have loyally bought and used every iPhone since then. But over the past year, as innovation with the Android operating system began to ellipse Apple’s, I began to have smartphone envy as I saw some of the many features available on newer models. The Galaxy S 4, with it’s much larger screen and 13 megapixel camera (compared to the iPhone’s 8 megapixels), was an immediate draw. Add to that wireless charging, a much tougher glass display,  2GB of RAM (double the iPhone’s) and a faster CPU and slightly more apps than Apple has and the appeal was very strong.

Probably the final straw for me was my iPhone battery was starting to fail. A full charge only lasted half a day. But the battery on the iPhone is not user accessible. I had to send to to Apple to be replaced. What a needless hassle. The battery on the Galaxy S 4 can be easily replaced by the user.

Even though a new version of the iPhone will be coming by Christmas, it’s not here yet. The Galaxy S 4 has all these features I want now.

The decision was made.

I rely on my smartphone more than ever because of all the RV traveling I do.

Screenshot_2013-07-26-08-21-55_resizedI especially like the Allstays Camp and RV – All Campgrounds app. Yes, I know, there is an iPhone version of it. But because I use this app so often to find Walmart’s, campgrounds, dump stations and the like, I found myself squinting at the iPhone screen a lot. It’s much easier to read on a Galaxy.  I’ll write more about my favorite RV apps in a later post.

I use my smartphone all the time. For email from readers of this blog. To update our Facebook Page and Facebook Group. To tweet updates on Twitter. To take and share photos and video and to stay in touch with news while traveling.

I also travel with an iPad but, truthfully, it’s a bit too big for me while on the go. Jennifer may use it for checking maps but we prefer the smartphone for convenience.

So my iPhone is gone.

Jennifer still has hers.

But I’m spending the next couple days getting used to the Galaxy and the Android operating system and enjoying the learning process. I love playing with tech gizmos.

One of the coolest things is the way the Galaxy 4 lets you wave your hand at the screen to accept calls with Air Gesture, read content by tilting your head or phone with Smart Scroll and preview content by barely touching the screen with Air View. It can be touch free.

I’ll put the new smartphone to good use starting next week when we head west on another RV adventure.

Meantime, how do you use your smartphone?

 

 

Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.

27 Comments

  • I have a Samsung Note. Use mine for Email, FB, internet, news, photos, and ebooks.

  • I almost bought Note… like that pen/stylus feature. But knowing me, I’d lose the stylus.

    • I use a Note 3. Love it! There is a feature that warns if the stylus is missing. Plus replacement styluses (sp?) are readily available.

  • I’d be going down that road also, Mike, if I didn’t already have an investment in the Blackberry tablet, which to me is a smaller, convenient size. So when my Blackberry Bold recently died, I first got the Blackberry Z10 & then switched to the Q10. It’s a great phone, though there sure was a learning curve due to so many new features & a new operating system! For many years, my job required only Blackberries in order to receive work email & documents. Now, they will link to a number of phones, but I’m still a loyal BB customer – another Canadian company 🙂

  • That larger screen is nice, but the size of the phone itself was too large for me. I went with the Motorola Electricfy M. It’s a better size for me and the screen is decent too. In my experience with cell phones, I have found the Motorola to be the best for reception. I use my smart phone for all the same reasons while traveling. The Weather Bug App gets a lot of use when heading south in the winter. We have avoided several storms while traveling. We have thought about going back to a “dumb phone”, but once you have been bitten by the smart phone, it’s hard to give up all that power in your hand.

  • All the guys at Roadtrek in Kitchener use BBs…RIM, the Blackberry maker, is just down the road from there. Nokia has a really nice phone out, too. The iPhone has been eclipsed by innovation on the Android platform.

    • Hi Mike,
      I think that the arrival of iOS 7 is going to be a huge leap forward for Apple in the smartphone arena. The new layered power management MAY be the answer to the wretched battery life because it only serves up full power to the app in the engaged layer. They have also “borrowed” the Win Phone 8 way of presenting open apps and deleting them, plus a host of other advancements.

      Ironically I was at your same place a month ago and a super sale at Best Buy on iPhone 5 (net $0) hooked me. Ginny is using a Samsung Galaxy Express (bottom rung of the Galaxy line at AT&T) because of the larger screen and customizable homescreen. So I get to play with Android and all its peculiarities and benefits. I also just finished a month demoing the Nokia 950 and am very impressed with the hardware and the native Nokia apps.

      Unfortunately inertia got me in the end. I use a MBP 13″, an iPad 2 (because I can’t read the tiny iPhone 5 screen!), an Apple TV and a new iPhone 5. The pull of the Apple ecosystem is just too strong; everything works together in it pretty seamlessly. I think that with the advent of better and better smartphones, that the winner in the device race will be determined by ease of use and and the general transparency of the overall OS/ecosystem.

      Right now Apple leads (IMHO) followed closely by a fragmented Android system and a distant third by a jumbled and confused MS.

      Happy RV-ing… I am green with envy, brother! ;-D

  • My job keeps me on the road so my iPhone literally turns me into a mobile office. I email, voicemail, FAX, take photos and level my RT when pulling into a camping spot. Who would have thought we could get an instant diagnosis of a diseased corn plant while standing in a farmers field with the use of Facetime to video conference to show and describe a diseased corn leaf to an specialist hundreds of miles away. Smart Phones are such amazing tools with seemingly endless functions that we forget this technology really started as a mobile telephone. For me, it meant I didn’t have to hunt for a pay phone at a gas station.

    I’ll probably update or switch my iPhone in the next few months so I’m looking forward to seeing updates. Is the larger size a blessing (bigger screen) or a curse (larger to carry)? Was it difficult to move your contacts to the new system? How about apps? Did you have to start from scratch?

  • I’ve been RV’ing solo since 2004. I finally got an iPhone around 2009. The first trip out with my new phone, I used it for everything from making reservations to looking for places to stay to finding local attractions. I don’t know how I traveled the previous five years without this newfangled communications device called a smart phone. Now, I cannot live without its plethora of apps, the internal iPod, text messaging and easy Internet access.

  • Absolutely love the Samsung 4….especially Swipe!

  • Jim: Don’t want to pretend to be an expert on the Samsung Galaxy S 4 yet but it was very easy to upgrade. Wendt to my Verizon store and they uploaded all my contacts. Piece of cake.

  • I have an iPhone 4, and will upgrade to the next release. I also have an iPad and a Nexus 7. I like the size of the Nexus 7 and find myself using it more than the iPad these days. I looked at the iPad mini; but I prefer the shape of the Nexus 7 better. I may upgrade to the new Nexus 7 when it is released. As for Blackberries, I am in tech support for a very large company and support Blackberries and iPhones (no Android devices yet). All I can say is the Blackberries are always having problems. And I almost never have any issues with the iPhones.

  • If you happen to miss Facetime, use Skype. Unlike Facetime, which is Apple proprietary, Skype can be installed on many different operating systems, and is actually more feature-rich than Facetime. You on an Android device can video chat via Skype with people on Android or Apple devices and even PCs! I figured I’d bring this up proactively. Most of the time when people say they switched from Apple devices, others say, “OMG, what will you do without Facetime!” And I love that the answer comes with another reason I don’t use Apple devices — the proprietary-ness.

  • I’m still using a “Dumbphone”, laptop, and while I do have an Android Tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.0) for travel, it is wi-fi only (no phone capability), which limits where it can be used. This blog entry has pretty much convinced me that I am going to have to enter the world of Smartphones when we purchase an RV (probably next year) and travel in it. I know most public campgrounds, which is where we’d stay most often, don’t offer wi-fi yet. Since I am already (slightly!) familiar with Android from my tablet and have never used any Apple products, I’ll look closely at the S4, and thanks for pointing out the Allstays app — I watched the demo and think it’s great. Always great information, Mike!

  • I have been a droid/Motorola with Verizon user for several years. My issue is service. Can you recommend a booster that may help. It would be nice if it also would apply to my laptop.

  • i avoid using a phone since i retired, so i don’t really need a smart phone and the bill that comes with it. we make do with a data card and the satellite internet dish, plus a dumb pay-as-you-go phone that gets maybe 100 minutes a year usage. i spend half my life now out of cellphone range, so a smart phone isn’t a big priority for me now. i may never join the 21st century at this rate.

    • Way to go Campskunk. We have become too dependant on phones.

  • Campskunk has been known, however, to use smoke signals on special occasions.

  • I also recently upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S 4 (from an earlier Samsung version). I love the “maps” app that came on the phone; it’s actually replaced our Garmin GPS (which we bought 3 years ago to navigate us through the backroads of Poland) and is a really great navigator. Even alerts you to upcoming road closures, very handy.
    Also, of course I use it to check emails and fbook updates. Texting, which I used to think was a ridiculous notion, is something I use daily now for quick chats with friends and kids.
    Camera is nice (though I still prefer my digital slr) and handy when you come across something that you want to snap quickly and the ‘big’ camera is nowhere around …
    Flashlight app has proven to be very handy.
    Still discovering other functions …

  • Didn’t realize RIM (actually, I think they changed their name to just “Blackberry” now) was down the road from RT. Would have popped in when I was there! I have always loved my Blackberries & I’ve had a lot of them through the years – Pearl, Storm, Curve, Bold, Z10, Q10..

  • We use our iphones for everything! Love the Facechat with the grandkids when we are far away. Used to have a Motorola phone with the Android system. There are FAR more apps for the iphone than Android. Many of the travel apps we use are not available for Android systems. We use a ton of travel apps but that’s a whole other comment. Internet research, Googling everything you need to know, emails, Facebook, reading news reports, checking the weather radar, checking ebay and Amazon, what DON’T we use our smartphones for these days? My guy uses his smartphone (iPhone) more than a tablet or laptop.

  • I’ve owned every iPhone made until the Samsung Galaxy S3 came out. I quickly upgraded to the Galaxy Note 2. The only reason I switched is because it is simply a better product. Apple had been setting the bar until Samsung raised it with the S3, S4 and Note 2. I have found all my favorite Apple apps in Android format, or at least a suitable, and sometimes better replacement. The best Android app that has made my Roadtreking days better is Foxfi which allows me to turn my Note 2 into a mifi hub for my laptop and other wireless devices through my cell signal. And there’s no tethering charge like with the iPhone.

  • I have used the same Nokia N95 since 2008. It has taken me safely all over Europe, through Eastern & Western Canada and in the US. It was the phone to have just prior to the first iphone. I have never had a problem with it, even though I’ve dropped it so many times I can’t count. Everything, including the camera is still in tact. I put off on an iphone as it seemed more fragile. It was my computer on the road but is now really outdated. I’d probably look at the Samsung although I would want to check the phone capabilities as I hear it drops calls easily, so will also check out the newest Nokia.

  • Last week I upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy 5. Some of the features are a little different, and the camera is now 16 megapixel.

  • I got one also and love it.

  • I’ve had my S4 for about 9 months now. First smart phone I’ve had. Use it daily for everything internet and also have about 2 dozen various apps related to RV/travel. I also have a Samsung Galaxy 3 tablet with wfi. I can broadcast a wifi connection from the S4 and then connect via wifi on the tablet and use the tablet to browse the web with the bigger display.

  • I’m curious to know, Mike, if the Galaxy can synch with a laptop/PC in a similar way to the iPhone. Is there an equivalent to iTunes?

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