Love, or lust? My techno nerve is jinking with so many hot smartphone choices.
I’ve put my smartphone marriage off a couple of years. Built-in cameras have not pleased me. I wanted bigger screens with more ways to make touch-screening easier, and I wanted a waterproof version with more electrical life so I didn’t end up lugging a cased phone with a pound of auxiliary battery. One person in our family has an iPhone. I’ve never been impressed (sorry, malus domestica fans). Another has a Samsung Galaxy S4. I’m more impressed. Ruggedized smartphones are out there but don’t get my juices flowing. Rugged cases are out there but are frequently bulky and never ideal. Now, along comes the Galaxy S4 Active, available any day from AT&T, presumably in weeks from Verizon. This little doozie has hormone inspiring attributes that might be irresistible for backcountry skiing and other mountain sports:
) Water resistance (not exactly an underwater phone/camera, but apparently perfect for backcountry abuse).
) Physical camera button (no more triggering photos with your nose when you’ve got gloves on).
) Some sort of “glove friendly” action on the touch screen (that’ll be fun to test.)
) Drop resistance.
No, this post isn’t a phone review. (Though yes, I’ll cop to technolust and the phone reviews ARE coming.) The agenda here: We are involved in a couple of projects porting backcountry hike/ski/climb guidebooks to the web. As we are abundantly aware of, such projects MUST work on a smartphone. Yeah, we might provide a downloadable GPS route or track you can kludge into your Garmin or (gasp) fool around with inside a large steel box filled with noisy fans. But really, those klunky small-screened dedicated GPS units could soon be added to the endangered species list, and desktop computers are a woolly mammoth — a large formerly noisy (before they died) curiosity.
At any rate, since we have a lively community here I thought I’d do a brief opinion poll and see where all of your are going with this. If some of you can answer these questions in any way you choose (narrative or bullet points, doesn’t matter) we’d appreciate it:
)Do you presently use a GPS unit in the backcountry?
)Do you use a smartphone for backcountry GPS navigation?
)If you don’t use a smartphone, could you see it in your future?
)Do you primarily use your smartphone camera for your photos?
)Anything else oh esteemed Wildsnowers?
Condensed PR text follows:
June 5, 2013 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd ……(ellipses means WildSnow edits) today announced the GALAXY S4 Active, designed to enhance life experiences of the active user who wants to stay connected while exploring environments from the most rugged mountain trails to the roughest rivers.
GALAXY S4 Active is the newest addition to the GALAXY series and is purposefully designed for active users who love the outdoors,” said JK Shin, CEO and President of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung has taken the innovative features of the GALAXY S4 and added breakthrough protective design elements to create a device that thrives in an active environment and is built for a lifestyle of travel and exploration.
…GALAXY S4 Active was engineered to keep active users connected as they explore and experience the world around them.
…GALAXY S4 Active has qualified protection from dust and water (IP67?) …(ellipses means WildSnow edits) The fully sealed design keeps dust particles out and protects against water damage for up to 30 minutes of submergence at a depth of one meter. Equipped with a water-resistant earphone jack, the GALAXY S4 Active frees you to use earphones in more adventurous conditions, in the same way you’ve used them in normal ones. Whether capturing every moment of a wild rafting trip or taking a great underwater photo in the pool, the device’s unique construction lets users capture amazing moments…
…Featuring a 1.9 GHZ Quad-Core processor and 2,600mAh battery, the GALAXY S4 Active can handle the most intensive tasks with ease and precision …with ‘Glove Touch’, cold weather is no longer a problem since the touchscreen can be fully operated while wearing gloves.
…With an 8-megapixel rear camera, users can easily share their vivid experiences while on the go …volume key located on the side of the device can be used as a camera key … GALAXY S4 Active will be available for purchase beginning this summer, with initial retail in the U.S. and Europe. It will be offered in three different color options: Urban Grey, Dive Blue and Orange Flare. Specific availability will vary depending on the market.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.