cell phone durability VS, GPS

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Kribensis, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. Kribensis

    Kribensis Adventurer

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    I'm a newer rider but I figured for this type of question. This was the place to get the dirt on my question.

    Do I need to be looking at phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 "ACTIVE" with "Mil-Specs" Or can I just get a normal android phone and buy a fancy Mil-Spec case for it? If I plan on mounting it on my bars for long trips?

    My wife asked me why pay more for a Android phone with Mil-Specs. If they are all the same inside. When I could just buy a case with Mil Specs? And that got me thinking.

    Anyone been using a phone mounted on their MC for a long time?

    When I was a over the road truck driver I had a flip cellphone that I think got destroyed from being on my rigs dashboard for 11hrs a day.

    THANKs
    #1
  2. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    I've done ~30,000 km with a non-milspec phone (iPhone) in various different mounting scenarios (took me a while find one I liked). Two bikes, 250cc XR250R and KTM 690E, both thumpers vibrate the crap out of the phone - especially the KTM.

    Did it over years so have tested this with more than one iPhone model.

    I scratched the shit out of a camera lens from the vibration, making it smokey white. Recommend finding a case that does not touch the camera lens or screen as dust can get between the two. Or alternatively make sure it's a dust proof case and clean the inside regularly.

    I destroyed one iPhone riding at highway speeds through torrential monsoon rain for hours while the phone was in a semi-water-proof tank bag. Got a new out-of-warranty replacement from Apple for half the RRP price of the phone, I had to give them my broken phone which they apparently scavenge for un-damaged components to give to other people.

    Another ride I had a different iPhone mounted *on the handlebars* protected with no case at all through hours of monsoon rain by the windshield only, and my hand while stationary at traffic lights (I was riding through an unfamiliar city at night in the rain, needed the GPS for directions, and too tired to give a shit). It was soaking wet when I arrived at my destination, but undamaged.

    I had a plastic mount snap with fatigue (too long exposed to the weather I think. Should have replaced it sooner), sending my phone bouncing down the highway. I didn't notice the phone falling off, but a cage behind me did and pulled up beside me telling me to go back and grab my phone. The case was destroyed by bouncing down the road but the phone was undamaged.

    In hot weather (desert) any phone will overheat while stationary and exposed to sunlight. Wind while riding will prevent this. A glove over the phone while stationary will also prevent it. Some weather-proof cases block the wind and will overheat the phone, and I suspect some phones (like your mil-spec one) might also be more suseptable to heat.

    Modern iPhones are fully aluminium on the back and that is part of the cooling system, so any wind going over that (or anything that touching it that transfers heat and is also exposed to wind) will prevent overheating. Many android phones may have inferior cooling and could be unusable in hot weather.

    Many phones use Micro-USB chargers. These are more durable than Mini USB but I'm still not convinced they are good enough. Again, Apple has gone with a proprietary connector that is extremely durable.

    This is my current favourite mounting option: http://www.indepthcases.com/iphone5-5s (disclaimer: the company I work for has business relationships with these guys... which is how I know enough about their product to recommend it). It's a combination of plastic/rubber/aluminium for strength where strength is needed and cushioning where that's needed, and the touchscreen operates properly even while wet —*most waterproof cases lack this feature.

    Touchscreens only work with thin-ish gloves in my experience. I think some android phones have settings to adjust how sensitive they are, which might help with thicker gloves.
    #2
  3. Kribensis

    Kribensis Adventurer

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    Everything is iPhone. Haha. I hoped to use android. Its crazy how well the iPhone is made. My fat fingers don't work well with the iPhone s keypad. My wife still has her iphone 4. Thanks for the reply
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  4. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    Sure but most of it applies to android. The technology is identical excepr for small details, they're all made in the same factories.
    #4
  5. Kribensis

    Kribensis Adventurer

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    Your first reply I think you can sell to Iphone. But you think the guts are all the same between iPhone and all others? Cool.

    My wife got me thinking about the guts of the phone and if they were that "mil-spec" build or it it was just the body of the phone.

    I also checked out that link you shares. Looks great. But they only make cases for the iPhones. You really helped open up my options more. Thanks.

    With Android phones they have a 3rd party company that makes a fancy strong glass screen called GorillaGlass. And its used on all types of phones. So Thanks for easing my mind.
    #5
  6. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    Not exactly the same, but similar.

    Some cheap phones are terrible.

    "mil-spec" is just a rating for how much water/dust/shock it can handle. It's just the outer case, (eg some might have soft rubber instead of hard plastic) nothing to do with internals and can be duplicated on almost any phone with a case.

    Similar cases are available for other phones. Find some reviews for cases and pick a phone with a good case available.

    Corning invented Gorilla Glass for Nascar windscreens decades ago but nascar dropped the technology and went with something else (plastic I think).

    Nobody used it for several years until Steve Jobs asked Corning to modify the glass for use on the first iPhone. Since then Corning has been making the glass stronger every year and every good quality phone uses it.
    #6
  7. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    I use my Samsung Galaxy phone in a simple bumper case, in a RAM finger grip mount. I have done this for many years and many tens of thousands of miles. I just don't use it in the rain. No issues.
    The current Galaxy S5 and Note 4 are popular enough that many ruggidizes cases are available, like the fruit phones. Without the issue of the fruit phone. :rofl
    The S5 in a cheap rubber case, in a RAM finger grip or such mount (the RAM X grip mount works too, but is fragile IMHO) and you should be good to go. The issue with the S5, is that for some reason they are all only 16GB. You may need to move maps to the SD card if you want to play with a lot of offline maps.

    I also have a Garmin 276C, which I haven't used for a few years. When I used it about 5 years back, it filled with water in the rain. The front windows was leaking. That was expensive. A couple of years before, the power connector fried in the rain. So even if I used my Garmin, it is not reliable in rain. So putting a plastic bag over my phone when it rains is not an issue..
    #7
  8. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    1 i've used $4 waterproof bags from basspro/sportsauthority without issue. there might have been one time it overheated, but honestly now i don't remember if it overheated or just depleted the battery to tell the truth. bags get the job done, for a standard phone, but the moment you pick up a rugged phone, everything else SUCKS and looks like a glass window waiting on a baseball. rugged phones are like honey badgers. they just don't give a ....


    2a- see above
    2b- yes and no. if it actually has a shock rating or whatever it's called, there may be some extra glue or a tiny piece of rubber here/there. i'll check back with pictures if i ever manage to destroy one of my rugged phones on a ride. (honey badger again)
    2c- see above again. it's like drinking sanka your whole life. it takes like coffee, and might even say so on the box/can. then you get a cup of real coffee, and .... sanka is dead to you.

    3- i stopped three years ago (i think) when i took off the stupid drz speedometer and velcro'd part of a plastic trash can as a shelf for my phone, in it's place. velcro is an amazing thing. the drz fairing provided protection from sunlight and smallish trees, and did not have a failure from the phone, just lots of rider failures. a rigidly mounted device may not fair as well, i dunno, those mounts are too expensive and exposed for me to desire them. (ram, etc)

    4- yes. vibrations are a beeyotch. i would imagine any kind of cradle or attaching mechanism that isolated the device would help with this. keep it simple though, these things are cheap if you buy em used, and they'll last a long long time. i have a (first gen) htc G1 that still works sitting right over there, and it's been abused by two toddlers that are not toddlers anymore.


    the only reason why i advocate rugged phones is that i've personally used them and felt the difference of just not caring when (not if) they hit the trail, get roosted by some jerk (hey yall!) ahead of me, or get caught in a rain storm (aka creek/swamp). the second i kill a phone from -any- kind of interaction wether it's vibrations, trees, stumps, or just sitting on it, i'll post that with a teardown. currently, i don't see it happening soon. they're pretty tough.


    added:
    iphone stuff---- this shit is EVERYWHERE. walk into a gas station, there are chargers. there are otterboxes. there are doohickeys that i'm not sure are really doohickeys but they work with iphones. their software is excellent, but only a little limited compared to the android mapping options. the day apple releases a rugged device, there will be swarms of adv types standing in line, with their klim jackets and tongue oil boots still glistening from the ride over.

    part of this is because they only offer one, or two devices for each release. it's a lot easier to product 34 case for one phone than 34 cases for 150 phones (hello samsung), and mounts that fit those cases.

    if you do decide to get an android (my preference for now) get one that was a good seller. gsmarena usually has a good overview of features and sales. the higher the sales (samsung galaxy s5) the more likely you will find exactly the accessory you want/need when you need it. if the price is too high for this years model, drop back a generation or two. the phones still work just fine, and you'll care less about the possibility of it getting dinged while you're out playing.


    sheesh that was a lot more than i planned. too much coffee.
    #8
  9. n16ht5

    n16ht5 ride the night

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  10. Hoaruptop

    Hoaruptop old Hoar

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    Sony Z3v. Can take pictures under water, no case needed. Has battery life that is crazy long. Oh and beautiful camera, plus screen is 5.2" IPS.
    Fast, smooth, and not a Samsung. Top tier phone.
    #10
  11. Kribensis

    Kribensis Adventurer

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    I was just searching through other related posts and read someone's comment about the IPS screens are seen better in direct sunlight then... I guess other screens. You post reminded me of that.

    My only worry is related to when I was a trick driver. I had a flip phone I would place on my dash for 11hrs a day. And I assume the vibration killed the speaker or function of that phone. So in wanting to mount a smart phone. Granted a smart phone has less moving parts.

    But from everyone's posts and other pages I've been searching through. I guess some people have even used Tablets. Crazy technology. Its way ahead of me I guess.

    I'd rather get a less expensive cellphone that works great. Then spending more on Samsung's Galaxy S5 ACTIVE. When from what I gather. Its marketed "mil spec" is from its body. More then its internals. Shoot... haha.... if it rains ill open a zip lock baggy or bust out the duct tape. Haha joking.

    It eases my mind when I read about tablets being used or other normal standard smartphones. just adding a fancy LifeProof or rubber case to them. That, and i dont have the cash for them $600 garmin gps. And would rather travel as light as possable.
    #11
  12. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    do some searching on youtube for "rugged" + smartphone/gps/tablet/case/etc and you'll see just how much these things can take.

    milspec is overused, make sure to watch reviews of any device yoyu plan to try. :)
    #12
  13. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    It would help to know what type of riding you do. I an 99% street, and I have used standard smart phones clipped to a RAM finger grip mount for untold 10s of thousands of miles. Zero issues with vibration and I simply slip a phone condom of the phone when it rains, or put it away.
    But ring mostly off pavement might need something more rugged. For me, it would mean the same Galaxy S4 or note 4 phone, just a better mount.
    #13
  14. Kribensis

    Kribensis Adventurer

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    2011 Kawa KLR650. At this time its mostly 80street/20dirt. But im looking to plan a trip from AZ to MT or UT. I see a lot of ppl use RAM mounts. Id think the arn bracket its attached to would shake or break loos on a rough off road path.
    #14
  15. scootertrog

    scootertrog Jedi Fart Master

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    RAM stuff is amazing. Looking closely at the kinematics of the mechanical connection, you would think it wouldn't be all that vibration-proof. But it does work, and it's always best to use the shortest arm you can get away with.
    #15
  16. appliance57

    appliance57 Long timer Supporter

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  17. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    Never really had an issue with that with a phone. I did have the custom RAM bracket for my Garmin 276C break. I needed to do a lot of work to the 276C mount to make is strong enough to stay together. But the RAM universal finger mount for my phone has held up for many years with no problems. I also have a RAM X-grip mount that looks to be a bit fragile, and doesn't protect the phone as well. Anytime I am heading out for a long trip, I trust the finger grip mount.
    #17
  18. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    That looks to be 100% like the mount that I got years ago for an S3 phone that I had. It was fairly cheap on ebay. It was far too fragile to use on a motorcycle. It is currently attached to my daughters bicycle.
    #18
  19. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    They're clearly lying about it being waterproof, the zip design will let tons of water in.

    Usually if they do that, the overall quality will be terrible also. I wouldn't buy it.
    #19
  20. DaMonk45

    DaMonk45 I B Da Monk

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    outside of a crash.
    has anyone ever broken a ram mount?
    #20