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Thread: Looking for a budget phone for during the Zombie Apocalypse

  1. #1
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    Looking for a budget phone for during the Zombie Apocalypse

    First things first...the title is tongue-in-cheek....mostly! I'm not some sort of survivalist or Zombie Apocalypse believer.

    That being said, I came across an article from engadget the other day making the case for having an emergency "dumb" phone for during times of disaster. The rationale is if you lose power for several days, your smartphone is likely to go dead well before the power is back on, or before wireless service can be restored (whichever comes first). My Optimus V typically only lasts 36 hours or so between charges...so I can certainly see the point.

    The Engadget article recommends the MOTOFONE F3, which is several years old. The article states that it is can be had for $20-25...but apparently there were lots of people who read that article and thought it was a good idea, because the price seems to have tripled over the past few days. Plus, the F3 doesn't have an FM tuner, which would probably be important.

    So, here is what I'm looking for the phone:
    1. Epic battery life. Primarily I'm concerned with standby time as opposed to talk-time. I would expect to communicate primarily via Text message during these scenarios to both conserve battery and network bandwidth. I'd like weeks as opposed to days. If I were concerned with only a few days, a back-up battery extender-pack would do the trick.
    2. Excellent reception abilities.
    3. FM radio. May be the best way to learn about what's going on with the outside world.
    4. I'd prefer GSM as opposed to CDMA.
    5. That's it. Anything more will be extraneous and probably counterproductive.

    Any recommendations?

  2. #2
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    This is what my experience and studies with regards to the use of mobiles in disasters and political upheavals.

    Smartphones are simply better.

    The reasons for this, people have learned how to use Facebook and Twitter in case of emergencies, and most importantly get storm and disaster information from the mobile internet. For example, FEMA has released an Android and iOS app. Find out the latest news on the disaster, where the evacuation centers are, which zones are evacuated and so on. We have seen people ask for help and emergency in Facebook and Twitter. AT the same time, blogging your own observations about the storm in Twitter or Facebook will also help others, not to mention news media exposure. The pictures you take during those times of disaster can be golden.

    Then there is also the sadder aspects of it too. Like trying to find missing loved ones through social media like Twitter and Facebook.

    Right after the great earthquake in Japan, we found out that voice networks were the first to go, and interestingly, mobile internet has proven to be more robust.

    But most importantly, a smartphone gives you multiple options:

    Your voice channel
    Your SMS
    Your Social Media --- Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instant messaging, and so on

    ...to call, request for help and information.

    Multiple options are what you need, because you have to assume that if one option fails, you have the others to back you up. Being redundant is what's important.
    I am @guamguy on Twitter.

  3. #3
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    After the florida hurricanes of 2004 we were lucky to get a text in or out. ( Alot of phones will send sms to email addresses. ) as well. Voice was out of the question. What people may not realize is that the closest tower to them might be down and the phone will work harder to get a distant signal. Thus reducing battery life.

    In a disaster i would want a phone on att and probably a cdma tracfone or a page plus phone (vzw towers anyway) several tracfones have fm radios.

    With some dumb phones and all smartphones that charge via usb there are several very high capacity batteries you can have charged up ahead of time.

    Tracfones are so cheap you could have some extra batteries charged up as well. For a radio i used one of those crank deals that if you crank it for a minute or 2 the radio will play for an hour. The moto ex124 has an fm radio as does the old w376g. The ex124 uses a standard 3.5mm jack whereas the 376 does not.

    So in addition to your smartphone i would have a dumb phone on the other technology and possibly another of the same technology.

    Something that can get out an sms text. I think there are some folks that update facebook via sms. I dont do that so i am not sure how it is done.


    I have a 2126i that is on vzw tracfone and the battery lasts forever and it will pull a signal out of its . . . . . . Nevermind

    Also a similar situation, not a disaster but overtaxed cellular towers is in columbia mo during a mizzou football game. I couldnt get anything in or out voice,text nor data on my contract iphone att (i work at a va hospital across the street from the stadium) i could get a text out on a straight talk phone on verizon no voice or data. I could get text,data,(slow) and voice on virgin mobile. Text on tmo. And talk/text on a tracfone cdma that uses U S cellular towers. Anything att was useless. until well after midnight.

    My post paid att phone was useless but i was able to use prepaids on different providers. tmo gsm and cdma

    During a situation with low or limited network. You are most likely to get an sms in or out.
    If you have a phone on both technologies your chances of getting a message out is much better.

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    How many text messages do you have to to send before a hundred people can read them? We do know that people are able to post to Facebook and Twitter calling for help in a disaster. It is so much quicker for over a hundred people to read a single message at once. Same goes with group instant messaging like BBM or WhatsApp or whatever.

    Another thing. If you can cancel off the data in a smartphone. You do that, then the smartphone becomes a featurephone with a much larger battery. Also note, a phone, even without a SIM or a contract, should be able to call 911.

    Always good to have multiple phones anyway. So you have a backup.

  5. #5
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    Yes, the best backup isn't just another handset; it's another network. If your area is served by at least two networks, you are best off getting a basic handset on the other network. Some have prepaid offerings that only have to be topped up once a year.

    However, you probably do want to have a backup handset exactly as requested, since others might be desperately trying to find you on your main phone number. You want to maximise the chance that they'll get through. For 2G GSM, if you can find a lightly used Nokia 1100, it's got weeks of standby time. Even when you use it, the monochrome display doesn't take much power.

    The problem with older handsets is that they may have batteries that don't hold a full charge anymore. Still, canniballising a current Series 40 Nokia for its battery and then powering the 1100 is the best way to stretch communication ability when zombies are prowling.

    Another old budget 2G handset with good battery life and reception is the Motorola L2.

    For CDMA, my Nokia 2855i has very good battery life and fantastic reception. It's one of the last handsets made with an extendable antenna, which is golden for getting through the interference created by tree leaves and needles in forested areas... to which you might have to run in an emergency.

    I'd skip the concern over having FM on the phone, as it's just going to drain the precious battery. FM radios with wind-up power can be had for $25 or less.

    If you plan to survive the apocalypse at home, a UPS intended for PC's and home electronics for an hour or so will probably keep your mobile phone going for many days. You can get one, plug it in and forget about it until it's needed.

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    Get an iPhone and a mophie juice pack... nuff said. Thats what I'd do in a zombie apocalypse.

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    I disaster proof my mobility --- one line on GSM and another line on CDMA. Each line is served by an Android, ccurrently a Galaxy S2 in one line and a Droid Incredible on the other. I'm looking to move my Droid Incredible, which has survived much use, to a new phone.

    I take my disaster proofing seriously. I live in an island and I have experienced at least living through the eye of a typhoon three times, and an earthquake over 7.5 in magnitude. If stuff happens in the Pacific, we get tsunami alerts. I should be ready to grab my survival kit and run to high ground within minutes. I help disaster proof my life by choosing a hybrid in case of gas shortages and I got at least two cellphone chargers connected to the car.

    Not only that, but Android phones are well equipped with weather apps, earthquake apps and I even got a solar flare app. Solar flares, magnetic storms, I get a notification on the phone. Earthquake alerts? Its all pushed to the phones. The weather apps I specifically pick those that can cover this side of the Pacific and is able to provide me current satellite and radar images of the weather. I need to be able to access the web pages of NOAA, JTWC, USGS and JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency).

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  8. #8
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    I dont know of any phones with fm radio that isnt a smartphone, but a smartphone undermines your long battery spec.

    Am radio is prolly more useful for emergencies.

    For GSM, consider TMo prepaid, which you can maintain for $10/YEAR and do data via a DayPass for $1.50/day. But Tmo is the worse for coverage.

    What I have for this is a Moto Q9c on Pageplus. Cheap now, a smartphone so you can do email, web, etc. Good battery life and I have extra batteries. Pageplus is the Verizon network, so the best coverage, and the Q9c can use qnc data, slow but adequate and free. Costs me $30/Year to maintain.

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    Thanks for all the replies, guys...definitely some good advice and food for thought. I've been searching around off-and-on for a few days...and the best GSM candidate phone I've come across so far is the LG GX200. It has an FM radio, and the standby-time specs at a whopping 1700 hours. It is a little pricey, though, at about $90.

    http://www.phonearena.com/phones/LG-GX200_id4314

    In the mean time, I've been experimenting with Tasker on my Optimus V...looking for ways to squeeze max standby-time out of it in case of an emergency. I already have juice-defender equivalent profiles that minimize the data usage, but I'm experimenting with also turning off the cell-radio to see what kind of an effect that would have. If I can squeeze 3+ days out of a single charge that way...I could probably get by with just a large battery pack (10000+mAh) for a few weeks. I've also taken a look at the various solar-chargers out there...but they seem to be unreliable at best.

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    While you consider disaster proofing, also consider disaster blogging. Taking pictures and videos of an event, in the right time, and at the right moment, can be something big when you post it in Youtube, and you can also get the chance to sell the footage to news networks.

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