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Cellular Phones and Travel

On our trip to the Azores last October, I talked about how much I appreciated the camera in my new phone, the iPhone 7 Plus. Now that I’ve had my phone for a little while longer, I’ve been able to test it out on a few trips and have come to really enjoy several other phone travel features. I personally like the iPhone, but this post will be applicable to anyone who carries around a cell phone, no matter what the model. (Does anyone reading this NOT have a cell phone? Probably not.) Instead of a full-on tech review (for which I am wholly unqualified), this post will point out a few things about the newer phones that make a difference for me when I’m traveling. So no matter which phone you pick in the future, you might want to consider these points.

iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus

Camera

My principal motivation for getting a new phone was to get the best camera possible on a phone (the Azores post goes into detail about the camera on the iPhone 7 Plus). The main things I like about my phone are the picture quality, portrait effect and auto retouching.

Picture Quality: 

Unless you are seriously into taking pictures, I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t just take pictures on your phone (as opposed to hauling around an actual camera). I have a few hand-held cameras that are currently taking up space in my closet, simply because the cameras on phone have improved so much in the last five or so years, that they are actually better than my real cameras.

What happens when you have a not-so-good camera.

Portrait Effect: 

As a recap, the portrait effect focuses on the closest item and blurs the background. This is a really cool feature and makes your pictures look quite professional. The effect is made possible by the phone having two cameras; one focuses close and one focuses farther away. I don’t do the greatest job with the portrait effect, but iPhone tells me when I need to backup so it can do its thing. I appreciate the bossy instructions so things will look good. With other cameras you might have to make all sorts of adjustments on settings and dials to get the same effect…which basically means I’m not going to focus the shot correctly.

Portrait Effect on the iPhone 7 Plus
Portrait Effect on the iPhone 7 Plus

Auto Retouching:

I’m pretty sure any and all phones these days have auto retouching and filters so you can make your pictures look cool and different. Gone are the days when you have to upload pictures to a computer and purchase a photo-retouching software program and then learn how to use said software program. With a few pushes on your phone you can take away red-eye, make a shot black and white, and brighten up dark areas.

Videos

In the last few years, B and I have taken two, five+ hour flights with no in-air entertainment provided by the airlines. On the first flight, I read an entire book that was supposed to last me for many hours on the beach. On the second, I had my new iPhone Plus to tide me over. I had downloaded a few movies to my phone, so when we realized we wouldn’t have our own entertainment systems, I didn’t panic. When I purchased my iPhone Plus, I was worried it would be too big. However, now when I’m watching movies on it, I relish the larger size. It is way easier on the eyes to have a bigger screen.

Books

Similar to how a bigger screen makes for a better viewing experience with videos, a bigger screen makes reading ebooks much more enjoyable. I read somewhere that larger text eases eye strain and I don’t like to squint when I’m looking at my phone so I’ve jacked up the size of text on my phone a few points (Settings>General>Accessibility>Larger Text). If my screen was smaller and my text was increased, I wouldn’t get very many words per page. But, being as my phone is nice and big, I can increase the text size and have an enjoyable time reading. Furthermore, for the last few trips I have used electronic versions of guide books. It’s nice to be able to pack around a multi country guide book and a few ebooks to read without taking up any extra space in my suitcase.

Music

I used to carry around my phone and my ipod because I didn’t have enough memory on my phone to hold all of my music. (This was back in the day when I bought the 8G iPod, thinking there was no way I would ever have more music than could fit on that.) Well, it turns out that I did exceed the amount of memory in my iPod and so when it came time for a new phone, I opted for one with enough memory to hold all the music I will ever have…or at least that I can foresee having right now. An added bonus of now only carrying around one item is that coworkers don’t make fun of me for having two devices at my desk (looking at you, G).

Charging

I’m not sure how phones other than the iphone handle charging, but I do know I never have to worry about my phone blowing up when I plug it in to charge. (Provided I use the correct adapter for that country.) I don’t have to lug around a converter to make sure the currents? juice? don’t fry my little guy.

Phone chargers and converters
Converters (on the left) are not necessary with an iphone.

Memory

The new iPhones come in a few different sizes of memory. When I was deciding between the 7 Plus and the 8 Plus, I found I could get the larger amount of memory on the 7 Plus (128G) for roughly the same price of the 8 Plus (64G). I learned my lesson from the iPod’s shortcoming and went with the larger amount of memory. On trips, you’ll need to have several books, several movies and your music library all on your phone and still have plenty of room for hundreds of amazing pictures. Do yourself a favor and get the larger memory. It’s no fun to set up that perfect shot, only to have your phone tell you its memory was full.

Conclusion

Phones have become an integral part of our lives, at home and abroad. If you think about your upcoming travel needs when you make your next phone purchase, you will thank yourself on your trip.  

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