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Buying a Smartphone for use in UK

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Old Thursday 16th January 2014, 22:00   #1
Himalaya
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Buying a Smartphone for use in UK

I did start a thread over year ago about this but so far have not bothered to get one. Now most of that information is out of date so will start another thread.

I want to buy a smartphone which I can use to aid my birding. I would like:-

1. one that can play bird song - i suppose this would most likely be on an app not necessarily a particular brand of phone or operating system?

2. one that I can use for identifying birds with - i suppose this would come on an app too so may not be influenced by brand of phone or operating system?

3. one that i could use to tell me where certain rare species have turned up like a rare bird alert - once again this would probably be an app and not necessarily the type of phone.

4. maps are important too.

5. one with a good battery

What else can smartphones aid with bird and other wildlife watching?

Which smartphones are the best taking all this into account?

Thanks for your help in advance!
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Old Thursday 16th January 2014, 22:06   #2
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I think 1-4 are mostly to do with apps. Most phones will play bird song, so long as you have the song files loaded. There are various apps for bird ID and field guides, but these are not so good for the UK (a bit better for other parts of the world). We're all waiting for the Collins to appear. RBA and Birdguides both do apps for 3. Most phones have Google Maps. If you want offline maps I'd recommend the Maps With Me app.

The other bird related stuff you might want would be apps for recording what you see. In the UK the Birdtrack app is excellent and your records will go to the national Birdtrack database.

In terms of which phone to get, I suppose the best phones for the things you want will just be the best phones more generally. If you're on a budget I would very strongly recommend the Motorola Moto G, particularly the 16GB version. It's around 159 and you won't find anything better unless you spend quite a bit more money. It can do all the stuff you want very well and has very decent battery life.
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Old Friday 17th January 2014, 01:52   #3
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A Danish report I recently read said that antenna in the iphones and the Samsung phones both were relatively poor while antenna in e.g., Sony phones were better

If you need to have location services when outside wifi, look at the phone having GPS antenna as well (I have been told most have this today).

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Old Friday 17th January 2014, 10:19   #4
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Choosing a mobile phones, as with most things in life, is budget led. Work out how much you have to spend, either per month on a contract or a lump sum and the PAYG or a SIM only contract. Then get down your local phone shop and see what they can do. Once you have a short list of phones I'm sure folks can offer an opinion.
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Old Friday 17th January 2014, 19:57   #5
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An app I find useful is Back Country Navigator which gives me access to OS mapping. It needs a data signal, or if you only need a small map area while out, load it before you leave home. It can link to your GPS to show you exactly where you are.

It comes with a free month trial and then is 7 ish to buy it after.

I also use BirdTrack which is free and Birds of Britain which isn't great for images but the calls and songs have proved worthwhile for identification. The files need uploading on wifi but this means you don't need a signal to use it. Less than a quid from memory.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2014, 21:36   #6
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Budget would be a maximum of 25 per month on contract. I would be looking for a contract phone. I have no brand or model in mind but wanted to see first which is the best smart phone for birders as a whole then I would look to see what deals were on offer.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2014, 22:06   #7
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Sony Xperia z is waterproof, and based on my experience with the older xperia sp, the battery life should be pretty good. One to consider maybe.
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Old Sunday 19th January 2014, 16:20   #8
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Quote:
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Budget would be a maximum of 25 per month on contract. I would be looking for a contract phone. I have no brand or model in mind but wanted to see first which is the best smart phone for birders as a whole then I would look to see what deals were on offer.
Not sure it's especially good for birding but my Samsung S3 mini is 17 per month for 1GB of data, which I barely use half of, unlimited texts and 300 mins. Best phone I've ever had. Bought it through mobilephonesdirect on O2.
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Old Sunday 19th January 2014, 17:11   #9
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http://img.tapatalk.com/d/14/01/20/yhy6y4er.jpg

This was taken with a Samsung Galaxy S4 through a Swaro ATS. (Not the mini which has a poorer camera)

I run BTOs Birdtrack app for recording birds and my year and life lists and the eRSPB app for bird ID and call refreshers. Twitter and RBA apps complete my birding line up.

I'm pleased with it but you might be pushed to get one on your budget. Had the S3 before that which was just as good but a smaller screen
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Old Sunday 19th January 2014, 20:04   #10
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Budget would be a maximum of 25 per month on contract. I would be looking for a contract phone. I have no brand or model in mind but wanted to see first which is the best smart phone for birders as a whole then I would look to see what deals were on offer.
If you don''t want the latest iPhone 5 and go for a 4 instead you can pick these up on some pretty good deals. We just got one from Vodafone at 22pm....paid 40 for the phone.
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Old Saturday 8th February 2014, 00:04   #11
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So Motorola MG , Samsung and iPhones, and Windows Xperia.......I did look around and a years contract is ideal 20-25 a month maximum.
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Old Saturday 8th February 2014, 09:17   #12
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So Motorola MG , Samsung and iPhones, and Windows Xperia.......I did look around and a years contract is ideal 20-25 a month maximum.
Sony Xperia z (waterproof), or the older Xperia SP both look to have good battery life.. Both are android phones.

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Old Sunday 16th February 2014, 23:46   #13
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The Windows Phone platforms has 2 options for you to consider:

1- Sibleys Birds of N. America. Not sure if there is a UK version, but it plays songs.
http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/st...f-f7d5934baa49

2- RareBirder - which works wherever eBird observations are submitted:
http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/st...0-b8848aae42ac

RareBirder is also available for Windows 8.1 desktops, laptops, tablets.
http://www.pkzsoftware.com/Pages/RareBirder.aspx
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Old Monday 17th February 2014, 22:55   #14
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At the moment I am only looking to travel Africa, Europe and Asia not likely west of India the next few years.

Btw do the apps work abroad? If I downloaded an app on a phone on a British net work could I use it in Asia?
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Old Tuesday 18th February 2014, 02:02   #15
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I would think that all your apps will work regardless of where you are.
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Old Tuesday 18th February 2014, 09:27   #16
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They would work but bear in mind that whilst some apps download all their content to your phone, some download content, especially audio, as and when you need it. For these to work abroad you would need to use data roaming which can be eye wateringly expensive outside the EU. Best check the small print. Most phones turn off data roaming by default but again best to check your settings before going abroad.
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Old Thursday 20th February 2014, 16:05   #17
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I had a look at some deals today and was left even more confused. How much data do the apps which help you with bird song use? It would appear to be better to get a larger package!

Are there any online cd's which I could order with bird song on it? Just a cd as a gift with Eurasian/Palearctic birds?
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Old Thursday 20th February 2014, 20:48   #18
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I have an ios device, so possibly different, but for example my sibley app (north american birds) downloaded everything while connected using wifi and does not need data connection while in the field. Therefore, specifying exactly which app you are asking about will make the answer much more useful for you

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Old Thursday 20th February 2014, 20:50   #19
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second answer: if you just want bird sounds, look at my post #2 in this thread to see one free solution: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=277151

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Old Thursday 20th February 2014, 21:06   #20
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An app I find useful is Back Country Navigator.
I was going to get this to help me get around Dudley but then realised that I had misread your post
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Old Friday 21st February 2014, 08:00   #21
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I own a Windows phone so my advice is simple; do NOT get a Windows phone. Ant other platform will be better for any purpose known to man.

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Old Friday 21st February 2014, 08:51   #22
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Hi Egret: That's probably the most honest review you can ever get.. someone saying not to buy the device they own!

Hi Phil: I saw "Black Country" too, when I first read it!
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Old Friday 21st February 2014, 09:03   #23
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In terms of data storage, I'd recommend getting a phone with 16GB or more (or at least the potential to expand to that amount). 8GB might not be enough for storing a lot of sounds, field guides, maps etc but 16GB should be plenty. Keep in mind that a certain amount of the storage (maybe 3-4GB) will be taken up with the platform software etc, so 16GB is actually more than double the available storage of 8GB in most cases.

My phone (a Moto G) is 16GB and I have just over 8GB stored. I have a few CDs of bird sounds, plus around five field guides (including pictures and sounds), as well as detailed maps for a few countries installed. A CD shouldn't take up too much room (maybe 50- 100MB or so in most cases, I guess).
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Old Tuesday 25th February 2014, 09:49   #24
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Thanks all for your help I have more or less made a short list and will buy in the next 2 days. i go abroad next week - is there any CD's I should order as I wait?
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