Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

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thunderberry
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Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by thunderberry » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:15 pm

The last time I was at burning man was 2007, an age before we all carried our lives around on our phones. This year, I want to be able to take some form of smart device around with me, primarily for:
  • Digital Camera
    Being able to message partner
    GPS functionality
    Occasional updates on the world outside
I'd say the top two are most important. What are people's experience with dust / drops / cell connectivity / wifi etc? I'm tempted to buy a couple of cheap rugged android phones specifically for the purpose rather than risking the iPhone, but don't know what it's like using smartphones out there.

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lucky420
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by lucky420 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:20 pm

I pretty much keep mine off and locked away. We see a lot of lost cell phone posts after the event...
Oh my god, it's HUGE!

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Kelsier
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Kelsier » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:47 pm

I did end up using mine a bit last year even though most of the time I kept it locked away. I heard a few times that 2016 was the first year where cell service endured throughout the entire week. My understanding in previous years the service dropped out mid week as more people arrived.

That being said, this year could be different; but I don't know why it would.

I usually kept my working smartphone in a plastic bag to keep the dust out. When I HAD to make a call, it was usually in my tent while sealed up tight. I did have an old non-carded smartphone that I used for pictures. Didn't really care if that one went to the dust.
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BBadger
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by BBadger » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:52 pm

I had no problems with my phone at the event. I kept it on my normal belt-holster case to use as a camera. I also put a scrap of paper with my contact info and camp location under the clear protective case I always use in the off chance it got lost so that someone could get it back to me if possible. That scrap of paper is still there.

Are peoples' phones really that delicate that they can't withstand some playa dust? There are only so many orifices on the phone where dust can get in. There's dust, but it's not like you're submerging the phones in bins of dust or something.
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thunderberry
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by thunderberry » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:08 pm

Dust isn't normally an issue with newer phones, but that Playa dust is something else... I never got rid of it from my last time out there. I can see loss or dropping them being pretty high-risk as well?

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Kelsier
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Kelsier » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:13 pm

My phone did stop taking a charge a month or two after the burn, but I couldn't be sure if it was playa-dust related. I've had that issue before.
It seems that this is my circus, and apparently those are my monkeys.
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Zubeneschamali » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:35 pm

Its very important to acclimate the new smartphones to the elevation and alkalinity as soon as you get to the playa. There's an open parking area to the LEFT when you pull off of 447 designated for this due to the specific qualities of the dust. You really won't find a better place on the playa.

Throw your phone into the dust with as much force as you have. Remember that its imperative that you drive the phone down from an overhead position with most of your strength. The purpose is to force the dust into the phone quickly and efficiently so that the servo-circuits don't have time to depolarize the alkaline properties of the dust. If you fail to do this important step your phone will probably get at least one small dust particle inside of a port during the rest of the week and it may end up ruining your phone or at least making it up to 99% slower.

As always there will be a law enforcement ambassador around to help if you have any questions. And don't forget - Cops Love Hickies Too!

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:11 pm

Simple. Put it in one of the waterproof cases, LifeProof etc.
If it's waterproof, it's dustproof.
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Savannah » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:28 pm

Indeed--waterproof cases and well-rated waterproof cameras are great on the playa!

I don't have a waterproof case for my present phone, but used a plastic sandwich bag . . . which makes a certain number of people--both civilian and undercover--look at me eagerly on Burn Night for exactly .5 seconds.

IT'S JUST A PHONE. :lol:


Word to the neophytes: I highly recommend placing a sticker on your phone with your name, camp name & address (sometimes determined or perfected after arrival), your email and maybe a friend's cell number in fine point sharpie. That way, you might get your phone back during the event if someone turns it into Playa Info. If you don't want to make a sticker, you can have an image of your contact info on your Lock Screen, although if your phone is dead when you lose it, or the finder doesn't have a charger that fits, you will obviously be separated from your phone for a longer period of time.
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by BBadger » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:46 pm

Zubeneschamali wrote:Throw your phone into the dust with as much force as you have. Remember that its imperative that you drive the phone down from an overhead position with most of your strength. The purpose is to force the dust into the phone quickly and efficiently so that the servo-circuits don't have time to depolarize the alkaline properties of the dust. If you fail to do this important step your phone will probably get at least one small dust particle inside of a port during the rest of the week and it may end up ruining your phone or at least making it up to 99% slower.
For effect, it also helps to yell "Pikachu, I choose you!" before acclimating your phone in this manner.
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Elliot » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:24 pm

Zubeneschamali wrote:Its very important to acclimate the new smartphones to the elevation and alkalinity ... ... ... ...
Finally -- FINALLY! -- someone has the guts to let Fellow Burners in on the "secret" tricks that truly make the Event trouble-free for "us insiders".

I salute you, Zubeneschamali, for taking this Returning Burner into the up-to-date fold.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Molotov » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:29 pm

I just took a picture of my driver license and made it my lock screen image. All my contact info and mail address is on it-and if I choose to redact anything I can use a photo editor to blur specific areas.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by PocoJoe » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:38 am

I put some electrical tape over the ports and buttons. The buttons still worked but it closed off the gaps.
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by maladroit » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:48 am

I've brought unprotected phones and used them out in dust storms, no problems. My current laptop computer (an old 17" 2011 Macbook Pro) has also been out there every year I have (and has the stickers to prove it) and was used outdoors in a full dust storm at least once each time. Art ain't gonna program itself.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by lucky420 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:17 pm

I would just lose mine or be so anxious about losing it that i would constantly be checking to see if I still had it. :mrgreen:
Oh my god, it's HUGE!

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lucky420
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by lucky420 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:18 pm

lucky420 wrote:I would just lose mine or be so anxious about losing it that i would constantly be checking to see if I still had it. :mrgreen:

And that would get annoying
Oh my god, it's HUGE!

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by lucky420 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:18 pm

:mrgreen:
Oh my god, it's HUGE!

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by EGAZ » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:26 pm

Zubeneschamali, excellent post! :mrgreen:

Lucky420, I' m with ya. Mine stays at the RMC, rarely turned on..... :D BM is an unplug week for me.
2nd time better than the first. And the first was pretty Freakin' Great!
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by AntiM » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:33 am

We've cooked ours in the vehicle, used them in the tent or shade, and take them out in airplane mode for photos. No particular protections. But I feel dirty when I get on FB at three in the morning in camp. Like I'm masturbating in view of Kidsville or something.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:45 am

The simplest and probably most effective thing is what Savannah said, ziplock bags.
I use them for everything in brc I don't want dusted.
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Rusted Iron » Tue May 02, 2017 5:27 pm

Target sells a "portion size" ziplock that is perfect for an iPhone.

Last year I lost the spare battery for my camera along with the charger. I ended up using my phone's camera for about 4 days. The baggy protected well. Of course I took it out to shoot the pictures.

(I found the battery and charger when I was packing to leave...)

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Papa Bear » Tue May 02, 2017 8:12 pm

I kept my iPhone with me in one of the smaller ziplocs Rusted Iron mentions. I didn't take it out of the bag in dust storms, but I didn't actually need to - the touch screen worked just fine through the plastic.

While I'll occasionally exchange a few texts (and very occasionally, a call) with yet-to-arrive campmates during build week, my primary use for the phone has been the camera.

Still, the GPS has come in handy at times too. There are now apps available that have the city layout mapped and so can show you exactly where you are on the map. They can help a lot in a pinch if you're not sure where you are and the street signs are gone or mixed up. I'd make sure to download one or two - and in fact, I believe that having at least one such app downloaded is something now recommended to Rangers.

Don't count on calls or texts working for the entire burn. Eventually, the cell towers do seem to get overwhelmed, though that seems to happen later and later every year.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Token » Wed May 03, 2017 12:57 pm

Image

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FlyingMonkey
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by FlyingMonkey » Sat May 06, 2017 8:55 pm

Elliot wrote:
Zubeneschamali wrote:Its very important to acclimate the new smartphones to the elevation and alkalinity ... ... ... ...
Finally -- FINALLY! -- someone has the guts to let Fellow Burners in on the "secret" tricks that truly make the Event trouble-free for "us insiders".

I salute you, Zubeneschamali, for taking this Returning Burner into the up-to-date fold.
Yes, but you forgot to mention the final step in seasoning a phone for Playa conditions. You need to find the first flame poofer (the bigger the better) & suspend your phone in a direct propane blast for not less than 20 seconds. Then, and only then will your phone be properly treated for Playa conditions.

Did I mention that I abhor the casual use of phones on the Playa....
In your wildest dreams you can not imagine the marvelous SURPRISES that await YOU.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by happydragon » Sat May 06, 2017 10:32 pm

I have to agree with those who are of the opinion that phones should go into a hole before you hit gerlach and not be seen again until you leave the playa. that being said, 2014 was my first burn with children, so being reachable by mother of said spawn was pretty important... we went with Garmin Rhino GPS units and they worked really well. It's basically a combo GPS/FRS radio, but unlike traditional FRS radios which get overwhelmed by the number of users, you can send text via the rhinos as well as location, and find each other easily, so whichever one of us had the kids, we could always call for help and find each other. Worked great. We also passed one off to our campmates in Reno before we hit the gate line in case we got separated, much better than trying to get cell service.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sun May 07, 2017 9:39 am

Smartphones do have their place in BRC. I used mine as a camera and primarily as the the head unit for the sound system on my MV. You can do the same in camp.
CDs get dusty and scratched, and Bluetooth remote control rocks.
And yep, the touchscreen will work right through a ziplock bag.
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by AfricanFire » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:51 pm

I use my phone for my camera on playa, and I keep it on Airplane mode to help prevent me having to charge it as often. This year it is also the receiver for a wearable medical device (via Bluetooth) so I will have it with me at all times. A ziplock bag has always worked just fine.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Senor_Peludo » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:44 pm

Used mine without a ziplock, case or anything else last year and it is still working fine. It's a Samsung so I put it in 'Ultra Power Saving' mode most of the time (works like an old Nokia). Reception was pretty good too. Bring a power bank to charge it up when back at camp.

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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Savannah » Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:25 pm

AntiM wrote:We've cooked ours in the vehicle, used them in the tent or shade, and take them out in airplane mode for photos. No particular protections. But I feel dirty when I get on FB at three in the morning in camp. Like I'm masturbating in view of Kidsville or something.
:lol:
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Re: Durability of Smartphones on the Playa?

Post by Admiral Fukkit » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:39 pm

No ziplock? Are you crazy? Using your smartphone on the playa without protection is like picking up some random tail at White Ocean, bringing her to your place and fu....

Never mind.

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