Battery experiment: survive a vacation trip with no chargers but a battery pack (updated)
By the time you folks are reading this, I’m probably half-way to my destination at the Adriatic Sea. Taking a vacation for the first time in years was one of the most difficult decisions I had to recently take, but I’m leaving — for a tad more than a week — knowing that Pocketnow is in good hands with my dear colleagues I couldn’t be more proud of.
The Nokia Lumia 1020, with its camera grip case, is the main phone I’m packing, and you know why that is: pictures. I don’t plan on taking a lot of pictures, but those that I do choose to take, I want them to be good, and the Lumia 1020 is my go-to phone in situations like these. It also happens to be my primary navigation device with Here Drive+, Here Maps, and free, quality (at least for me, here in Europe), voice-guided, offline navigation. My secondary phone is my personal favorite phone of 2014, the Sony Xperia Z2, and, despite not being able to dip it in salt water (despite doing that in a recent trip to the Mediterranean), I just have to carry an Android for all the things I can’t (yet) do on a Windows Phone.
This is a battery experiment. I will take no chargers! I will also regret my decision… :)
That’s gonna be tough to pull, but I’ll try it out. My one and only power source will be a Harmonica Style Lumsing 10,400mah external battery. Let’s do some math: the Lumia 1020 has a 2,000mAh battery, its camera grip has a 1,020mAh power source (and since they’re going to be inseparable, why don’t we treat them as a single 3,020mAh battery?), while the Xperia Z2 has a 3,200mAh juice pack. 6,220mAh in total, so the chosen external battery will be probably good for one full charge, and another partial one for both devices.
We’re talking about a roughly 3,000km/1,800mile round-trip combined, where navigation will be essential on the Lumia 1020. Then, we’re talking about taking a lot of pictures, social media, listening to music, some phone calls and texts, as well as light email usage.
Somehow, I know I won’t be able to make it. If this was a three-day trip, I’d say it stands a chance, but I’ll be out, combined, for more than seven days. However, it will be a fun experiment to see how long one can last without power.
Expect to hear from me (and my stories of begging hotel receptionists for a quick charge) in week 30. Until then, you all stay safe! Meanwhile, share your experiences with us: how long did you go for, without a charger or power? What’s the size of your preferred external battery pack?
So I returned, and, after more than a week of catching up with everything (cause that’s what happens when you’re away from the office for that long, in this business), I can finally share my experiences with you. TLDR: you can definitely go for a week, with one phone, if you’re light on it.
Long version: heading out with two phones, out of which one was used for a 32-hour roundtrip navigation, is not a good idea. If you’re planing on taking two phones with you, for a three-day trip, with a power pack of this size, it is definitely doable. However, not a full week. Here in Europe, when we most of the times travel for more than five hours, chances are you’re already in a roaming situation (in my case, I can cover three countries in that period).
The Lumia 1020 with its camera grip was the device I used for navigation, and, despite what my US-based colleagues say, Here Maps and Drive+ work very well here on this side of the pond. I managed to get to my destination without using the power pack, but had to top off the phone, and its camera grip, as soon as I reached my destination. 10,400 mAh – 3,020 mAh = 7,380 mAh left.
Note: I also need to mention that, because of two reasons (1. costs, and 2. wanted to unplug completely), I have disabled data connection while in roaming, relying solely on the WiFi at the hotel, beach, plaza, mall, etc.
When you’re on vacation, in a foreign country, on a beautiful riviera (and you’re accompanied), you’ll take a ton of pictures, believe me! So the first day I completely depleted the Lumia 1020, and, at the end of the day, I had to recharge again: 7,380 mAh – 3,020 mAh = 4,360 mAh left.
A trip to an aviation museum and surrounding sights also implies a lot of pictures. The next day, the Lumia 1020 was at 20%, so I had to recharge again. That’s also when I decided to switch to the Xperia Z2. 4,360 mAh – 2,400 mAh = 1,960 mAh.
The rest of the days I was a casual smartphone user: not necessarily because I was afraid I’ll run out of power, but by the time you reach half of your vacation, chances are you took most of your pictures anyways. So it came down to watching the Pocketnow Podcast on the beach, looking up places, and occasionally kicking it to some tunes on Spotify. The Xperia Z2 got me through two-and-a-half days on a single charge, until it gave up, and shut down.
I had to go offline for an entire day to conserve whatever battery life I had left in my Lumia 1020, for my trip back home, when I (we) decided to stay one more day at the beach. That day was mostly spent off-line as well.
On the way back, I used up the entire juice in the pack, draining it completely, charging the Lumia 1020 (and its camera grip) to about 70%. The fact that you pass by Venice, and you stop for half a day, doesn’t help. A gazillion photos snapped again.
I ran out of juice by the time I was half way back home, on the highway. Relied solely on traffic signs, and my memory, as I’ve driven those roads so many times before.
If I have heavily used both phones, and spent my usual daily allotted time for work, I wouldn’t have made it through day three. But, at the end of the day, that’s what vacations are for. The team did an exceptional job without me (though I’ll have to admit some of them were happy to see me back at the office), but my conclusion is very simple: if you plan on going places where a charger (plug, power, etc.) is not available, bring only one phone, use at least a 10,000mAh battery pack, and be light, if you’re planning on staying for a week. Anything below that is definitely doable.
The being said, the product I tested, the Harmonica Style Lumsing 10,400mah external battery, behaved just as expected. Delivered solid performance and, if my math is correct, also delivered the juice it is advertised to deliver. It’s a solid battery pack which can get you through a light week, or a couple of days of heavy usage, if you often find yourself in a situation where power (charger, cables, etc.) is nowhere to be found.
…and, since many of you asked me to post some vacation pictures, find a bonus gallery below. AND MANY THANKS for showing interest in this silly experiment of mine!