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Imagine if you will a seemingly normal 24-hour day, only this time you’re getting to spend it in the Magic Kingdom. Well that day is almost here: February 29, 2012. Disney is calling it “One More Disney Day,” and it’s occurring in both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. This is both great and fantastic, and I don’t know about you, but I’m taking time off from work to experience it. My Outlook Calendar literally says “Magic Kingdom for 24 hours” for all the office to see. I fully intend to stay in the park for all 24 of those hours. However, as a mega-geek, I realize that I’m going to run into some power problems with my iPhone during this time.
For starters, my #1 rule is that it pays to be portable. I carry my own water while running because I don’t want to have to wait for a water table when I’m thirsty, and I certainly don’t want to make my iPhone wait for power. Now, if I was an Android user, I could have extra replaceable batteries for my particular phone. I’ve got friends who carry as many as 5 extra batteries for their phone, and that’s great. Generally they’re fairly portable, and not terribly heavy to carry around.
Life isn’t so easy for an iPhone – Apple doesn’t like you checking out the innards of its phones. So instead you have to resort to external means of power. Note, however, that not all of these will work with an Android device – many are made for iPhones only. However, if you get a device that can charge via USB, you’ll find you have complete flexibility. Since December 2009 my personal go-to device has been a Zagg Sparq (typically “Zagg” for short). It’s a very strong and fairly durable device, capable of charging a phone in under 30 minutes an average of 3 times before it is out of juice. In an effort of disclosure there are three things I should mention about the Zagg:
- While I love this device there are some who dislike it greatly.
- I am on my second one, as I had an original model that was recalled for a manufacturing defect.
- My wife, Cheryl, did manage to break the optimized plug on her Zagg – so we just bought her a new one, and I took her old one as a backup – yup, I’ve got two now.
There are, of course, several other options as well, and I’ll mention some:
- 3GJuice makes three chargers: the 3G Juice, 3G Juice Deluxe, and the 3J Juice Major Mojo. The latter was recommended in Episode 3 of Betamouse. I suggest buying these on Amazon, as they’re cheaper than buying direct. Note that only the Major Mojo would support non-Apple products.
- mophie juice pack air is a very popular iPhone-only product. It’s basically a battery built into a case that recharges your iPhone as you use it, making the battery last a few hours longer. There is also the mophie juice pack powerstation, which is a general USB charger, and a new higher power capacity charger on the way.
- Energizer and Duracell make very popular charging batteries.
- Go solar. The Solio Bolt Battery Pack + Solar Charger is a nifty little device that is both a charger and a battery. Its power output is only 1000 mAh, so it won’t charge your phone very quickly. However, it has the added benefit of being able to recharge using solar energy. In a pinch, should the Zombie Apocalypse occur, and you’re finding yourself trapped in Cinderella Castle, this charger will keep your phone charged for years to come. Alternatively, you could use a solar backpack.
- HyperJuice. If you’ve ever wondered how Lou Mongello can run “The Box” for 40 hours straight, this is his secret. These do not come cheap, but they carry quite a lot of power – the smallest model claims to charge an iPhone 14 times.
- Use Airplane Mode, especially inside of attractions where signal is generally poor or non-existent. This mode just turns off all phone and Internet functionality of your phone. It will turn off everything that follows in this section. Pros: one toggle does it all. Cons: your phone is off, you can’t receive calls.
- Turn off Wi-Fi in the parks. Currently, there’s no Wi-Fi in the parks for guests. This means that unless you’re using a MiFi device, there’s no reason to have it on ever when inside a park. When you’re not connected to a wireless network and this feature is on, your smartphone will be “spinning” trying to find and connect to a network. It’s not so bad if there are no wireless networks to be found, but there are wireless networks in the parks for Castmembers that the phone will keep trying to connect to. Those connection attempts eat a lot of power. Pros: saves a lot of power. Cons: you rely on your phone’s data plan.
- Turn off your GPS when inside or better yet, altogether. On an iPhone there is a toggle for “Location Services” that does this for you. On Android there is a button with a picture of a satellite. Similar to Wi-Fi, if your phone can’t find a minimum of 3 satellites to connect to, it will keep spinning to try to find them. Outside this is not a problem, but when you’re indoors, it’s going to eat a lot of power to look for those satellites. Pros: saves a lot of power. Cons: you have to keep turning it back on to check into foursquare.
- Turn off Notifications or at least as many as makes sense. Sadly, however, doing this for either an iPhone or Android phone is annoying these days. iOS used to have a single button to disable all notifications, but now this is gone – you now have to disable each notification individually. For Android, search the market, there are several apps that will let you do this, but there is no default way to just turn them off. Pros: saves power. Cons: you might miss an important notification.
- Turn off Bluetooth. Do you really need to be walking around in the park with your earwig in your ear ready to make or receive a call every waking moment? No, probably not. In general, Bluetooth–like Wi-Fi and GPS–is a huge waste of power whether it’s connected to a device or not. So turn it off, conserve, and free your ears. Pros: saves still more power, Cons: you brought your headset into the park for nothing.
- Kill apps you don’t need running. For iOS if you control the items above, you control the power consumption of background apps (suspended apps already do not expend power). Apps still be in the background and not suspended will be doing one of the following: playing audio, tracking location, waiting for incoming calls, downloading content, or attached to an external device. Android apps aren’t quite so limited because Android does almost-true multi-tasking and therefore unless you kill an app it is still considered running and still drawing power. There are several apps you can download to manage this better. Pros: saves power. Cons: your phone isn’t operating your way.
Overall, there’s a lot you can do to keep your phone charge available, and to recharge your phone on the go for while you’re in a park and any length of time, let alone 24 hours. Of course, there’s another option: cold, hard, raw, power fresh from the power company provided to you via an electrical socket. Next week I’ll go over all the locations I’ve managed to find in the Magic Kingdom with some pros and cons to using each location or type of location.
What about you? How do you keep your phone going when in the parks? Is this something you worry about? Will you be in Magic Kingdom on February 29? Disneyland? More power to you…