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Traveling with an iPhone 4 and Kindle

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I like to travel light, that’s why my iPhone4 and Amazon Kindle are the only devices I carry. Here are some of my experiences.

The Kindle is excellent for reading books. However, don’t try to use it for anything else like surfing the web (horrible user interface). Moreover, I found it not suited for the Lonely Planet either as that book requires to much annotation and going back and forth.

The iPhone 4 has been a positive surprise. Picture quality is excellent for photo’s and video and due to the handy format (and that it’s also a phone) I tend to have it ready nearly all the time. I like especially the following apps:

Photo
– Pro HDR: this app is simply fantastic. In difficult light conditions (dark + light areas in the same picture) it takes 2 pictures right after eachother and automatically merges the best parts of each picture to create 1 good picture. Amazing! It also helps you to prevent to flash (which is horrible 99% of the time).

– iPicasso. I have searched everywhere but couldn’t find a good app that allows me to send multiple pictures and video’s to cloud storage like Google’s Picasa (I don’t feel like leaving my iPhone for a couple of hrs in a cybercafe cum photo place, then burn the files on a couple of DVDs and then send them home and then pray that they arrive and only then delete the pictures from the iPhone). iPicasso is the only app that I know of that let’s you upload multiple pictures at once (tried Dropbox and others, but they didn’t work for me). The only reason why this is necessary is that Apple doesn’t allow apps to access the photo’s and video’s on your phone.

– other noteworthy photo apps are: Hipstamatic, Colorsplash, and CropForFree. They obviously aren’t as good as Photoshop, but definitely are easier and fun to use

Navigation
Here I tried nearly a dozen apps (Google earth, Omaps, Wikimaps, National Geographic world atlas etc.), but only 1 performed well for the main trick: have a GPS enabled map that works offline. Why? Mobile Internet is expensive, slow and has poor coverage (especially in the areas where you most need it). The name off the app: OffMaps (it also features city guides, but I haven’t tried those yet).

Communication
I recommend buying a simlock free non-jailbroken iPhone without subscription. This means in practice that you need an iPhone from Belgium, UK or Italy (I bought mine at www.Gigavolt.nl , who gave me excellent service). Why? Simlock free is necessary so you can buy local simcards (especially when traveling outside europe, otherwise Vodafone has a package that could be interesting). I have looked into special international simcards (Worldsim etc.), but found their local-to-local rates very expensive (1 euro/min+). I have bought a non-jailbroken phone because I didn’t want to discover in the Vietnamese jungle that my phone (with my pictures on it) was ‘bricked’ due to a shiny new iOS update. The phone was expensive (1050 euro), but as it also meant a new camera and videorecorder. I somehow put myself over the price.

Buy local prepaid simcards for headache free calls to hotels, emergency internet surfing etc. Buy a ‘simcard cutter’ (also at Gigavolt.nl) for effortlessly cutting regular simcards to the right size (damn you Apple 2!).

Use Skype for calling your Skype contacts. Use Skype Out for calling people without access to Skype (call from India to NL for 2 cent per minute). Unfortunately, this only works via Wifi (damn you Apple 3!).

I use WhatsApp for chatting.

Posterous is the only tool I need for maintaining this site and the updates to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You only need to send an email to an email and Posterous does the rest (very helpful in Iran where Twitter and Facebook are banned).

Last, but not least: buy the thickest and uggliest protector for your iPhone that you can find.

That’s it! If you’ve got any tips, please share them below or send me a mail.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think after you get back from your travel you should write a book for wannabe vagabonds. Fabulously useful insights 🙂

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