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  1. #1
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    How do you protect your smartphone when its mounted on your bike?

    I just got my first iPhone. One way I justified the additonal expense of a smartphone was that I plan on mounting it to my bike and using it as a GPS cycling computer.

    I have my iPhone in an Otterbox Defender case. However, I removed the plastic screen cover that came with the Otterbox because I already have an Invisible Shield screen cover installed on my phone. I plan to order a bike mount that is compatible with the Otterbox so I can mount the thing on my stem.

    When I have the iPhone mounted on stem, do I need to worry about protecting it from sweat, or is this not a problem to worry about? I do not ride in rain or adverse weather, so the main source of moisture would be sweat and saliva.

    Just curious in general what precautions people take when mounting a smartphone on a bike.

  2. #2
    Senior Member joewein's Avatar
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    I use a Minoura iH-100S for my Samsung Nexus S Android smartphone. I have done about 1000 km with it so far. I don't use any kind of cover for the phone, except if there is a drizzle, in which case I wrap the phone in cling film (like for wrapping food in the kitchen).

    I've not had any problems so far. With the Minoura, the clamps that hold the phone in place snap apart when the release button gets pushed. To guard against accidental releases I wrap a rubber band around the clamps, just for peace of mind.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TacomaSailor's Avatar
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    iPhone 3GS - February - July 2011 (1800 miles? 1/3 on my mountain bike) I kept the phone in an Otterbox. The phone started having serious problems in June. It would start/stop/make phone calls/delete apps...etc with no input from me. Even while sitting quietly on the desk in front of me.

    Apple store took it apart and found contamination and corrosion around the little round button at the bottom front. They replaced the phone under warranty.

    The technician who did the work was a semi-serious cyclist. He and I had a long talk about iPhones and bicycles. His urgent recommendation based on a lot of warranty returns like mine was to not use an Otterbox or similar waterproof container.

    He said they did protect the phone from getting soaked or damaged from impact and were excellent for that purpose.

    The problem is that the waterproofing allows/forces any moisture that gets in the phone to remain in the phone. As the phone inside the Otterbox goes thru heating/cooling cycles it allows the moisture to evaporate and then condense. That leads to the corrosion he found.

    STRONG recommendation from him - use the phone with no protective case most of the time. When riding - put the phone in a ziplock bag for the duration of the ride. Then remove it from the bag when the ride is over.

    He also said it was OK to use the Otterbox when riding but to get the phone out of the box after the ride and let it air and dry. That is too much work for me!

    Additionally, I get a much better GPS signal with the phone not in the Otterbox. That is especially important in the Pacific NW mountains where the GPS satellites are low in the sky. The phone would frequently lose the GPS signal when in the Otterbox but regain when outside.

    August - December (2500+ miles - 1000 on a mountain bike) following his instructions and no phone problems. I carry the iPhone all the time and use MotionX-GPS on every ride. I use cheap/disposable 'zip lock' type of bags.

    I carry the phone in my jersey pocket or the outside mesh pocket on the small backpack or fanny pack. I've ridden in rain, snow, sleet, wet roads and have had no problems with the phone getting wet.

    Just my personal experience.

  4. #4
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    TacomaSailor,

    I'm not sure I follow how an Otterbox traps moisture in the case. My Otterbox is not water proof, and especially since I removed the plastic screen cover that it came with, its not airtight or water tight. What you said makes sense for a totally waterproof case, but my concern is how to keep sweat, spit, etc. from getting into the phone if I take your technician's advice and ride with the phone exposed to atmospheric conditions.

  5. #5
    Senior Member RedC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
    iPhone 3GS - February - July 2011 (1800 miles? 1/3 on my mountain bike) I kept the phone in an Otterbox. The phone started having serious problems in June. It would start/stop/make phone calls/delete apps...etc with no input from me. Even while sitting quietly on the desk in front of me.

    Apple store took it apart and found contamination and corrosion around the little round button at the bottom front. They replaced the phone under warranty.

    The technician who did the work was a semi-serious cyclist. He and I had a long talk about iPhones and bicycles. His urgent recommendation based on a lot of warranty returns like mine was to not use an Otterbox or similar waterproof container.

    He said they did protect the phone from getting soaked or damaged from impact and were excellent for that purpose.

    The problem is that the waterproofing allows/forces any moisture that gets in the phone to remain in the phone. As the phone inside the Otterbox goes thru heating/cooling cycles it allows the moisture to evaporate and then condense. That leads to the corrosion he found.

    STRONG recommendation from him - use the phone with no protective case most of the time. When riding - put the phone in a ziplock bag for the duration of the ride. Then remove it from the bag when the ride is over.

    He also said it was OK to use the Otterbox when riding but to get the phone out of the box after the ride and let it air and dry. That is too much work for me!

    Additionally, I get a much better GPS signal with the phone not in the Otterbox. That is especially important in the Pacific NW mountains where the GPS satellites are low in the sky. The phone would frequently lose the GPS signal when in the Otterbox but regain when outside.

    August - December (2500+ miles - 1000 on a mountain bike) following his instructions and no phone problems. I carry the iPhone all the time and use MotionX-GPS on every ride. I use cheap/disposable 'zip lock' type of bags.

    I carry the phone in my jersey pocket or the outside mesh pocket on the small backpack or fanny pack. I've ridden in rain, snow, sleet, wet roads and have had no problems with the phone getting wet.

    Just my personal experience.
    Wish I had read this before I bought the Otterbox. I can buy a box of 1000 ziplock bags in the right size for the phone for a lot less than I paid for the Otterbox. I never thought about letting the phone out of the box to dry out but it makes sense
    Red, like the color my hair used to be.

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  6. #6
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    I have an Otterbox myself and just my opinion - that technicien's comments don't make any sense to me.

    Humidity is in the air everywhere and in North America at least - the places where you'll find the lowest levels of humidity are indoors. That's just a side effect of creating a heated, sealed environment. It's impossible to totally prevent issues with condensation - and cameras are no different than cellulars. And I can't think of a more appropriate way to minimize condensation issues than by sealing a package indoors.

    I'm more of the opinion myself that the problem was caused more by regularly subjecting the cellular to conditions that promoted condensation ( extreme cold / extreme humidity ) rather than by the level of protection.

    None of the ports are actually sealed against moisture with or without an Otterbox, and I personally appreciate the shock resistance of the additional case.

    Something to think about: If you were keeping the iPhone in an inside pocket - that's a high humidity environment because of perspiration and that's probably all the Ziplock is effectively protecting it from. A ziplock would be a good idea there with or without an Otterbox.

    And reception issues due to interference from a small amount of plastic and metal? It takes a lot of steel and concrete to do that. A bit of plastic and silicone really are no promlem for reception. The iPhone case already uses it.
    Last edited by Burton; 12-30-11 at 04:03 PM. Reason: Internet issues

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    I have an Otterbox myself and just my opinion - that technicien's comments don't make any sense to me.

    Humidity is in the air everywhere and in North America at least - the places where you'll find the lowest levels of humidity are indoors. That's just a side effect of creating a heated, sealed environment. It's impossible to totally prevent issues with condensation - and cameras are no different than cellulars. And I can't think of a more appropriate way to minimize condensation issues than by sealing a package indoors.

    I'm more of the opinion myself that the problem was caused more by regularly subjecting the cellular to conditions that promoted condensation ( extreme cold / extreme humidity ) rather than by the level of protection.

    None of the ports are actually sealed against moisture with or without an Otterbox, and I personally appreciate the shock resistance of the additional case.

    Something to think about: If you were keeping the iPhone in an inside pocket - that's a high humidity environment because of perspiration and that's probably all the Ziplock is effectively protecting it from. A ziplock would be a good idea there with or without an Otterbox.

    And reception issues due to interference from a small amount of plastic and metal? It takes a lot of steel and concrete to do that. A bit of plastic and silicone really are no promlem for reception. The iPhone case already uses it.
    I agree. In fact, after reading the previous post, I called Otterbox technical support and explained to them the concern with trapping condensation inside the phone. The girl I spoke to said that she fields hundreds of calls and complaints each day and has never once heard of that being an issue. She said I was the first person to ever ask about it, and she has never had customers report moisture damage resulting from their use of an Otterbox. She sounded very genuine.

    There are lots of things that could have caused corrosion inside the previous posters phone. Without knowing exactly how the phone was used and cared for, its impossible to speculate. And, like you mentioned, the Otterbox case is not air tight. The phone could breath through the speakers, connection ports, etc.

    Here is how I look at it... Do I want to risk my phone being damaged from the rare chance that the case is trapping moisture inside, or do I want to risk my phone being damaged by dropping it without the a case? I know one thing is for sure, I'll take my chances with the Otterbox. The odds are astronomically higher that I'll inevitably damage the phone without the protection of a case.

    Now, does anyone have any insight on protecting the phone from sweat and other bodily fluids while the phone is mounted on the bike?

  8. #8
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    I have an iPhone 4 on my bike. It is mounted in a RAM mount, open to the elements, my sweaty hands, (and drool??!!). It just seems to work. Has done so for 1 1/2 years or so, including an iPhone 3G before that. If it rains I put it in an Ortlieb waterproof flexible holder that mounts onto my Ortlieb handlebar bag. Or I just put it inside the handlebar bag or in my pocket. I did try the Otterbox when I used it on my motorcycle, because I was worried about a fall at 60 mph, but hasn't happened (yet). The RAM mount I use is:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...K2ZHEJCA2MS5AG

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhendrick View Post
    I have an iPhone 4 on my bike. It is mounted in a RAM mount, open to the elements, my sweaty hands, (and drool??!!). It just seems to work. Has done so for 1 1/2 years or so, including an iPhone 3G before that. If it rains I put it in an Ortlieb waterproof flexible holder that mounts onto my Ortlieb handlebar bag. Or I just put it inside the handlebar bag or in my pocket. I did try the Otterbox when I used it on my motorcycle, because I was worried about a fall at 60 mph, but hasn't happened (yet). The RAM mount I use is:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...K2ZHEJCA2MS5AG
    Great! Do you find that sweat drips all over the phone? Do you take any precautions to wipe it off right away or clean it when you get home?

  10. #10
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    http://www.lifeproof.com/lifeproof-s...es/iphone-4-g2 Pricey but fantastic! I love mine.
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  11. #11
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    Wahoo bike case http://www.wahoofitness.com/ works great. In and out is easy, and I get all my speed/gps/cadence/HR and map info auto mailed to me via cyclemeter app. Fantastic. I use a Iphone 4s.

  12. #12
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    Every time I stop and take the phone off I wipe it on my Jersey.

  13. #13
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    I have been riding with first my iPhone 3G and now the 4. When I went to the 4 I also used an otter box case and the belt clip case that comes with it. I would not recommend taking out the screen protector that comes with the otter box. I have found that protector works much better than the stick on type and has less problems with air bubbles etc. under the film. I also built an on board charging system as I do long days of riding and uses the phone for a variety of uses one being (cyclemeter) these apps uses a lot of power in the course of a day. The first few photos shows the 3G setup and I don’t have a photo of the otter box setup only the mounting bracket that the belt clip snaps onto. The belt clip is nice because the phone quickly comes off for taking a photo or when leaving the bike. The phone and handlebar bag never stay on the bike unattended.

    I normally just use the otter box case alone unless there is drizzle or chance of moisture then I stick it in a baggie and then clip it into the belt clip. The touch screen works fine thru a baggie. I don’t seal the open end of the bag I just put it to the bottom. In the event of a hard rain I put the phone in the baggie inside the handlebar bag.

    When I first started using the cyclemeter app there was a new novelty about watching the map and speeds etc. after a while I know it’s all logging and I tend to let the screen black out and review it all when I stop.

    3G setup




    otter box with belt clip setup
    Last edited by bud16415; 01-03-12 at 08:28 AM.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apexhunter View Post
    Wahoo bike case http://www.wahoofitness.com/ works great. In and out is easy, and I get all my speed/gps/cadence/HR and map info auto mailed to me via cyclemeter app. Fantastic. I use a Iphone 4s.
    +1

    I've done about 2100 miles with my Wahoo case, works a charm. Had one bad fall recently where the case/phone was ejected from the handlebar mount - iPhone was fine, the case has a few minor scuffs/dings, still works fine.

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