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Frugal Cyclist Needs Advice on Carrying Cell Phone on Rides

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Frugal Cyclist Needs Advice on Carrying Cell Phone on Rides

Old 07-04-17, 11:18 AM
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gnrboyd
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Frugal Cyclist Needs Advice on Carrying Cell Phone on Rides

Hello,

I currently carry my older smartphone (It's not very smart.) in my saddle bag on rides. I only carry it for emergencies and never check it for messages, texts, etc. I've been thinking that after 8 years, I'm due for a phone upgrade. (Please keep laughter to a minimum.) Even though I won't be getting one of the high dollar phones, I still am not very excited about carrying it on rides for fear of various types of damage. I'd like to be able to continue using my old phone to carry on rides but I obviously wouldn't want to add a new line just for that. I doubt my new phone will have the same sim size as my old one so changing out the sims probably isn't feasible. (Plus, that is a hassle anyway.) Is there any way I can accomplish having 2 phones on the same cell plan with only having 1 active at a time without changing sims?

I'm guessing what I'd like to do isn't really possible but thought some of you may have crossed this bridge before and might be able to offer some thoughts or suggestions.

Thanks!
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Old 07-04-17, 11:32 AM
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Way back when cell phones were gaining popularity, I used a pre-paid phone that I rarely used to make calls. I really treated it as an emergency device and it was quite affordable for a college student. You only need to top off your balance when you run out of minutes and there is no long term commitment. I'm not sure how pre-paid phones work nowadays, that was almost 20 years ago, but I would think it still functions similarly so it might be worth looking into.
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Old 07-04-17, 11:32 AM
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It depends on what you mean by "emergency". If you're in the US (I'm not sure about other countries), all phones will allow you to make calls to emergency dispatch (911), even if they are not on an active line and do not have a SIM card.

As far as I know, companies will not let you have more than one active SIM at a time. If you did want to switch the SIM between phones, you can obtain a SIM adapter for quite cheap (less than $5 on Amazon), and it will allow you to use a newer/smaller SIM in an older device that requires a larger one. [Experience: I'm a cell phone cheapskate, and I have a teenager who breaks phones and needs a backup.]

I'll also say that riding with a smartphone isn't that bad. The combination of a lightweight case, a good screen protector (I like Skinomi), and a plastic bag (to prevent rain) can go a long way. Since smartphones can track distance and speed, I use mine instead of a bike computer and just check the results when I get home.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:15 PM
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Small Ziplock sandwich bag in the back jersey pocket. And/or as stated above, get a cheap pre-paid phone. Me? I ride with my iPhone 6 in a sturdy plastic case by UAG and zip it in a Ziplock bag. Never have a problem, even after a crash or getting caught in the rain.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
It depends on what you mean by "emergency". If you're in the US (I'm not sure about other countries), all phones will allow you to make calls to emergency dispatch (911), even if they are not on an active line and do not have a SIM card.

As far as I know, companies will not let you have more than one active SIM at a time. If you did want to switch the SIM between phones, you can obtain a SIM adapter for quite cheap (less than $5 on Amazon), and it will allow you to use a newer/smaller SIM in an older device that requires a larger one. [Experience: I'm a cell phone cheapskate, and I have a teenager who breaks phones and needs a backup.]

I'll also say that riding with a smartphone isn't that bad. The combination of a lightweight case, a good screen protector (I like Skinomi), and a plastic bag (to prevent rain) can go a long way. Since smartphones can track distance and speed, I use mine instead of a bike computer and just check the results when I get home.
Note that this may not be practical, depending on carrier.

Some like say Sprint, in the USA, firmset the SIM to one very specific phone handset. Technically their towers and servers pair the UICC of the SIM and the IMEI/MEID of the phone. The SIM can be repaired to another, but every single change requires talking to customer service.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by zammykoo View Post
Way back when cell phones were gaining popularity, I used a pre-paid phone that I rarely used to make calls. I really treated it as an emergency device and it was quite affordable for a college student. You only need to top off your balance when you run out of minutes and there is no long term commitment. I'm not sure how pre-paid phones work nowadays, that was almost 20 years ago, but I would think it still functions similarly so it might be worth looking into.
I've thought about that but I think the minutes expire so there would always be an ongoing cost. I really have not investigated them recently though so perhaps that option is worth another look.

It depends on what you mean by "emergency". If you're in the US (I'm not sure about other countries), all phones will allow you to make calls to emergency dispatch (911), even if they are not on an active line and do not have a SIM card.
I've heard about 911 being available on inactive phones but I'm a little leery of trusting it. However, what I meant by emergencies was more in the event that I had a mechanical issue, minor crash, etc. where I would need to call someone to come and pick me up. I doubt if 911 would appreciate such calls...Ha

As far as I know, companies will not let you have more than one active SIM at a time. If you did want to switch the SIM between phones, you can obtain a SIM adapter for quite cheap (less than $5 on Amazon), and it will allow you to use a newer/smaller SIM in an older device that requires a larger one. [Experience: I'm a cell phone cheapskate, and I have a teenager who breaks phones and needs a backup.]
I wasn't aware that was available. This might be a viable option for me to just change sims for the first year or so while I am getting the newness of the phone worn off. It then might be an easier choice for me to just carry the new phone and avoid the hassle of swapping the sims as I'm sure I would be tired of it by then.

I'll also say that riding with a smartphone isn't that bad. The combination of a lightweight case, a good screen protector (I like Skinomi), and a plastic bag (to prevent rain) can go a long way. Since smartphones can track distance and speed, I use mine instead of a bike computer and just check the results when I get home.
I do have a basic bike computer which I probably would not want to replace with a phone even though I know it would do more than my bike computer. I got it as a gift a few years ago and really didn't think I would have any need for it at the time. Now, I can't see myself riding without one. I primarily use it to just help me stay on pace and know what distance I'm at.

I ride almost exclusively packed limestone trails which can have their share of divots, bumps, etc. so I just want to avoid doing any damage to the phone. I know most ride with their phones without problems so I probably just need to stop being a worry-wart and just use it.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Small Ziplock sandwich bag in the back jersey pocket. And/or as stated above, get a cheap pre-paid phone. Me? I ride with my iPhone 6 in a sturdy plastic case by UAG and zip it in a Ziplock bag. Never have a problem, even after a crash or getting caught in the rain.
I probably just need to quit worrying so much about it and protect it the best I can.

Thanks
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Old 07-04-17, 12:29 PM
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I just got my first smart phone (iPhone 7) a few days before starting a two-week, self-contained tour. I got a Life Proof case for it. Rode with it in my jersey pocket. I have been carrying various phones that way forever. No damage, except when I forgot about the phone and jumped in a lake to cool off.

I think you are wasting head space on this issue. Not everything is an issue. Carry your new phone the way you have been carrying your current one and devote your mental energy to solving world hunger or something.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Note that this may not be practical, depending on carrier.

Some like say Sprint, in the USA, firmset the SIM to one very specific phone handset. Technically their towers and servers pair the UICC of the SIM and the IMEI/MEID of the phone. The SIM can be repaired to another, but every single change requires talking to customer service.
So what you are saying is that swapping sims may not work without contacting the carrier each time? I have swapped sims on my current phone with an even older phone in the past and it worked fine but perhaps things have changed since then. I supposed the best thing to do is verify with the carrier before attempting.

Thanks for the heads up on that.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:35 PM
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I would just get a rugged splash proof case for the phone and use it only on rides (unless you don't mind keeping it on all the time).
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Old 07-04-17, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I just got my first smart phone (iPhone 7) a few days before starting a two-week, self-contained tour. I got a Life Proof case for it. Rode with it in my jersey pocket. I have been carrying various phones that way forever. No damage, except when I forgot about the phone and jumped in a lake to cool off.

I think you are wasting head space on this issue. Not everything is an issue. Carry your new phone the way you have been carrying your current one and devote your mental energy to solving world hunger or something.
LOL.. I think you are probably right. I do waste head space on things like this. I guess it's in my nature.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by zammykoo View Post
I would just get a rugged splash proof case for the phone and use it only on rides (unless you don't mind keeping it on all the time).
I never really thought about getting just an extra rugged case just for rides. Good idea. Thanks!
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Old 07-04-17, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by gnrboyd View Post
I currently carry my older smartphone (It's not very smart.) in my saddle bag on rides....I still am not very excited about carrying it on rides for fear of various types of damage.
A phone in a freezer-grade ziplock bag nestled between some soft things should survive a lot, though try not to pack it next to a wrench or something that could go through the screen if the bag takes a blow.

There are of course hard cases sold.

Is there any way I can accomplish having 2 phones on the same cell plan with only having 1 active at a time without changing sims?
Really wish the carriers would offer some sort of "jogging phone" option where you could do this, but the closest they may come is trying to find a family plan where you largely pool the consumable resources. Maybe you can add a "line" without buying a (2nd new) subsidized phone and so incurring a termination fee if you drop it?

Main reason in my mind for a cheap phone would be to have it out while riding, and not packed away securely. Might still bring the primary phone, perhaps powered off to preserve battery and buried deep in protecting gear.

Was actually just considering charging up an old cast-off phone to use as a clock / camera (I've suddenly discovered that the timestamps on pictures of landmarks help me reconstruct memory of the progress of a ride, especially when budgeting daylight on a subsequent one). May have to do that and see if it says something about "emergency calls only" or a more general "no service". The cast-off is on a different carrier, which could be useful in hilly rural area - several times I've dug mine phone out to check something only to find that I'm at a spot with no service.
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Old 07-04-17, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Small Ziplock sandwich bag in the back jersey pocket. And/or as stated above, get a cheap pre-paid phone. Me? I ride with my iPhone 6 in a sturdy plastic case by UAG and zip it in a Ziplock bag. Never have a problem, even after a crash or getting caught in the rain.
I have mine in ziplock too. No matter the weather I made it a habit. Cause I ride in the rain and along the canal trail. People react with "Who carries their phone in a ziplock bag!?". I tell them "I like it to keep working incase of unexpected rain, or Cthulhu forbid I crash into the canal"
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Old 07-04-17, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by PanoramicPixel View Post
I have mine in ziplock too. No matter the weather I made it a habit. Cause I ride in the rain and along the canal trail. People react with "Who carries their phone in a ziplock bag!?". I tell them "I like it to keep working incase of unexpected rain, or Cthulhu forbid I crash into the canal"
snack sized ziplocs fit the best. while they work for rain, the primary purpose is just keeping sweat off the phone.
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Old 07-04-17, 01:19 PM
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You can get a pre-paid wifi hotspot with its own cell data, and use VIOP to connect the phones to it. You would't have actual cell phone service, but it amounts to the same thing with calls going out over the cell data. Callcentric among others provides free outgoing VOIP, and you can also get free DID (inbound number) with a little hassle. In fact, with that setup you can use it with Google Voice, and have all of your calls going to every phone if you want. Without cell service at all. That may be overkill for what you want, but it's one way to do it.
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Old 07-04-17, 03:46 PM
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For my current training run-up going from near-zero miles last year to a 1200km event later this year, the "emergency phone" solution I am using is a simple pre-paid Walmart special, a not-particularly-smart phone, for which I paid $30.

I've made one call of shame this year - it was a temperature and humidity thing and I don't regret the call. I used less than 3 already-paid-for-minutes so I haven't felt the need to "top it off" again.

So, it's got the absolute minimum minutes on it, is on a network that has very dense coverage in the area I am riding/training in and stays on/with the bike even when charging (usually twice a week and/or the night before a ride). I rarely worry about it.

As far as taking care of it even while riding in the rain, as others have said - Ziplocks are my friend. As far as non-water-damage like dropping, well, I'm cheap - very cheap. I use a home/custom-made bubble-wrap layer placed inside a zippered Ziplock bag and stick the phone in a rear-rack bag, in a zippered-pants pocket or in my rear jersey pocket. I figure if I actually have an accident, I'll be in worse shape than the phone.

I don't use my regular smartphone phone on any ride. I have 2 Garmin GPS's on the bike so there's no need for a smartphone app for map backup.

Obviously, others' mileage may vary.
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Old 07-04-17, 03:54 PM
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Otterbox Defender.

Singletrack, rugged gravel descents, torrential downpours and hours in the rain... Never a problem.

Pretty sure this isn't an option for the OP though.


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Old 07-04-17, 04:21 PM
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Ziploc baggie is all you need.
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Old 07-04-17, 04:46 PM
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Jersey pocket for me. Along with my pump. Never been a problem.
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Old 07-04-17, 07:04 PM
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I don't wear cycling jerseys, I wear jogging shirts. My tools etc live in a saddle bag. I carry my keys, phone and wallet in a bum bag - you don't notice the bag's there when riding and you'd be dreadfully unlucky to fall on your back.

If you are wearing a jersey though, I'll second the ziplock bag.
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Old 07-04-17, 08:18 PM
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A truly frugal cyclist wouldn't bother with any phone.
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Old 07-04-17, 08:19 PM
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Cheap cell phone storage

Pocket.
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Old 07-04-17, 08:25 PM
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Depending on your plan and what your montly spending is, you have a few ways to go.

The most straightforward is to simply upgrade the phone, and maybe the plan, and carry it on the bike, well protected against rain or crash damage. This is easy enough and you might stop here.

Another option is to buy a new phone and new plan if you want to, and also buy a 2nd pay as you go plan, which can cost you only a few dollars a month, and use the old phone on that plan.

A third option would be to look for a multi line plan. I've seen 2 line plans that cost only $5-10 what a low cost single line plan costs. So, you have the good number as the mainstay, and the B number and old phone for emergencies.

Or, you upgrade your phone and leave it home. This might make the most sense if based on your experience you don't have reason to worry about being off the grid for a while.
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Old 07-04-17, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by gnrboyd View Post
I never really thought about getting just an extra rugged case just for rides. Good idea. Thanks!
My iPhone lives in it's rugged case. You can add a screen protector as well. Then... kept in a ZipLoc bag (when riding).... the phone is more durable than most cyclists. And the case should last as long as the phone too.

One of the things that made me switch to a modern phone (a few years ago)... is the advanced technology and available apps. They are WAY more than a phone... and worth every penny.
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