Friday 8 August 2008

Power Struggle

So I've had the Nokia N82 for a few days now and I've been playing around figuring what it can do. A consequence of this was the battery seemed to die awfully fast, and so much so that there would be no way I could bring it on a backpacking trip over two days.

I read some forums and it seems the problem is common with these power hungry N series phones. Some people get over their problems by having the phone on charge all the time or having a spare battery - which would be a real annoyance. One suggestion on one forum was that I turned off everything I don't use and put the power saving mode to max. I need the phone to be able to make and receive calls, take lots of photos and be my GPS device all in one and having to worry about charging or changing batteries was not my idea of fun. I settled on a compromise and turned of WLAN scanning, 3G, turned the brightness of the screen down a little and have set the backlight to go off after 15 seconds. This makes a massive difference and now the battery lasts for around 2.5 days of average use. When the GPS is running however this isn't going to be the case so I need a portable power source.

I looked into the solar chargers like the Freeloader, and portable power supplies that you charge before you go out and take it everwhere with you - just in case. The most sensible idea for my purposes in wildcamping and backpacking is this - The ICON-X emergency charger.

Its the smallest, lightest option I could find for the job and it works of any AA battery. Its so small that you can carry it everywhere and not even know about it, and at £5 its cheap enough to have a few and leave one in your handbag (or manbag of course), one in your car and one behind your ear if you're that way inclined.

The downside of the more expensive, larger options is that this simply suits phones and not much else but then again that's all I'm bringing up the hills now! Luckily one of the connectors is the small USB types and this happens to be the connector used on my bluetooth GPS so I guess if I ever used that instead of the integrated unit in the phone I don't need to worry.

So now the important bit - weight. Including the carrying pouch, two connectors and a battery it weighs in at 53g. Its only slightly larger than the AA battery that fits inside as you can see so it will go anywhere in my pack. It doesn't have an awful of juice bearing in mind it uses a 1.5v AA battery but it charges the N82 and the GPS and will be enough (I hope) to get me through 2 days of intensive use of the phone.


Martin Rye said...

That is a good bit of kit. Come in handy on a two week walk. I am looking to get a new phone and battery life matters.

Marcus said...

I really felt this problem on my last lakes trip. I used my mobile for pics and blogging and it was almost dead by the end of day one.

I've yet to test its actual performance but I suspect it will be exactly what I need.

baz carter said...

I think that this is a good reason to look for a less complicated phone - all those other features suck life out of the battery. And do you really need them? To blog on foot all you need is to be able to email in with picture attached.

That's a ideal back up charger and one that I'm adding to the bits to buy list!

Marcus said...

Hi Baz,

I do agree, the more features and uses the more intensive the power needs. However, this phone will replace potentially 3 items of electronics that I absolutely like to bring and use on my trips - a camera, GPS and a phone.

Day-to-day usage will mean the battery is fine but intensive use on the hill will mean I need something to top up. This is a great, cost effective solution. I don't usually like to plug the big guys but have these for £4.99 inc delivery!

John Hee said...

i must be one of the few who charge up my phone before i go out and bring it back still with 50% power a week later. Nokia 6101 used for calls on route checkpoints, a few texts each day, the occasional photo perhaps sent to my blog .....and eer oherwise switched off when not used for this.
If people insist on getting the camera/MP3 player/GPS etc etc all in one unit, then the power discharge goes thru the roof. Remmeber the good old days when 'phones were used for calls?

Marcus said...

I hear you there! A lot of the problem is about cramming all this technology into a small unit , with little consideration for the battery size and type versus the power needs of the device.

Anonymous said...

It says onthe stuff I've read that it also has an LED torch on it. Would this be any use as a backup torch?

Marcus said...

Hi Shuttleworth,

It does have an led torch on it and I suppose it could be used in an emergency. Its not very bright to say the least so I think it would be a struggle to use it for much more than just pottering in the tent.


baz carter said...

I'm with John on this. I keep mine switched off - not only to preserve power but to preserve my time in the outdoors. Last september on the west highland way I used a camera to take snaps but didnt use phone other to report in my well being and progress by text. On the last day I used my phone to take a pic of Ben Nevis so that I could send it to the guys I worked with as one of them was doing a charity walk up it a week later. No sooner had I switched the damn thing on I got embroiled in sorting out some issue at work!

As for GPS fine to use if you need a grid reference otherwise good map reading skills are better (and they weigh nothing!)

Music - I prefer to hear the sound of the wind in the trees (or my own puffing and panting) rather than the Artic Monkeys...