Here at Technoodling we love our gadgets. And for the sports-minded among us (and I’m proud to say that most of the TN editors have been running outdoors regularly for the past few months) a gorgeous brand new iPhone 5 or HTC One X+ is not always the phone we want to have sitting in a bouncing belt bag where it might fly out onto the asphalt or get drenched in a surprise downpour. For that, we need a beater.
So what’s a “beater” phone, you might ask?
It’s a term more commonly heard in automotive circles and car clubs. Owners of expensive, flashy cars who don’t want to subject their pricey vehicles to unnecessary risk and wear and tear usually also own much simpler, more functional cars. These are cheap daily drivers meant to take a beating, and thus probably the origin of the word.
The idea of a beater phone first came to my mind a couple of months ago when my Samsung Galaxy S3 took an unexpected exit from my cycling jersey and went somersaulting across a parking lot. Fortunately, it survived totally intact thanks to a Speck Candyshell case that took the brunt of the damage. But I realized next time I might not be as lucky. Time to buy a beater!
I had a definite set of criteria for my beater phone, and wound up with a Samsung Galaxy Pocket which met all my requirements.
First off, I wanted it to be cheap and at less than P5,000 SRP, the Pocket is one of the cheapest true smartphones you can buy.
Second: I wanted it to be as small as possible,to easily fit in my running belt or cycling jersey pocket. The Samsung not only fits there perfectly, but it even fits in the tiny pocket on the back of my Nike running shorts that normally holds my car keys!
Next, I wanted it to be capable enough to play not just MP3s, but run my favorite music apps like Spotify, or audiobook and podcast players. During a long solo run, I definitely need entertainment to keep me company. The Android Gingerbread OS on the Galaxy Pocket may be dated but it’s still current enough to run the latest versions of these apps. So that’s another plus point.
Lastly, the ideal beater phone has GPS so you can use sports / running apps like RunKeeper, Endomondo or Nike+. The TN editors all use Endomondo to track their runs, and it’s an extremely effective tool not just for athletic activity but for social motivation as well. When Jason (or “Daddy Long Legs”, as we’ve dubbed him) goes on one of his frequent sub-30 minute 5K runs, the data immediately shows up on our Endomondo timelines and everyone else feels guilty for staying home and eating corned beef in front of the TV. The Samsung Galaxy Pocket has GPS, so no problem there.
So there you have it. As a bonus, my Samsung beater has also come in handy on days when I forget to charge my SGS3 and run its battery dry. I will also be traveling to the US in a few weeks and intend to use the Galaxy Pocket’s wifi hotspot feature with a prepaid data SIM to power my internet needs for the trip.
Speaking of SIM cards, you might also need to pick up an adapter to be able to switch between phones: I bought my microSIM-to-regular SIM adapter from a cellphone stall in Makati Cinema Square for a hundred bucks.
Sure, there are sport-specific phones out there like the Sony Xperia Active that are shockproof / waterproof, etc … but I’m pretty happy with my choice.
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