Re:The perfect phone for a birder?

To: "Peter Marsh" <>
Subject: Re:The perfect phone for a birder?
From: "Damian Kelly" <>
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 2009 20:30:01 +1100 (EST)

I have been using an iPhone 3G for several months with Telstra.

Coverage: having used others (Vodaphone and Optus) I can say that the
Telstra coverage is significantly better over wide areas, but not 100%.
Does work fine at Cape Conran (others didn't) and Hattah. I even managed
emails and sms at Lake Mungo (but not voice calls) as long I was on top of
a sandhill.

International coverage is easy but very expensive via Telstra roaming.
However, the inbuilt wifi works fine (in my experience) in the US,
Singapore and the UK which gives you Skype for calls on the iphone. No
idea about other places.

GPS works pretty well anywhere, but better outdoors or windscreen mounted
in a car. Several map sets available (Sygic, Tom Tom I have used) with
full set on phone. Sets also availbale for other countries. Sygic
Australian set is ~900mb - available even when out of 3G range.

MP3 - I have the BOCA set of calls and the phone works fine with a small
external speaker with separate batteries.

Haven't used an external mic but internal one works quite well for voice -
I use it for voice memos. Haven't tried bird calls.

I have been using the BirdSight AU software - generally works reasonably
well. On a recent trip to East Gippsland I didn't use a notebook at all,
just the iPhone, to record lists. Exports via email to .csv files for
Excel. Haven't tried to upload to online sites yet. Also gives you access
to bird image sites and Wiki on each species. Could probably dispense with
a bird book in the field to check identification as long as you are in

Having used it for a month whilst tent camping at Lake Mungo I can say it
is tough - no problems with sand or moisture in a very harsh environment.

There is a huge range of software - I use several apps regularly.

Phone security is not an issue if you don't 'jail-break' the phone. I
would not recommend that.

Hope this helps.


> Knowing that you will all be at a loose end too full of Christmas pud to
> be able to go out birding let me test your tech savvy by asking what is
> the perfect phone for a birder?
> I appreciate that the question goes a bit further than the phone. There is
> also the carrier and software to consider. Therefor the answer that I am
> looking at will necessarily cover these issues.
> What I know I want in a phone are the following features :-
>   1.. As great a coverage within Australia as is possible
>   2.. As much international coverage as is possible
>   3.. GPS coverage whether within coverage are or not
>   4.. Access to detailed maps of Australian rural areas when out of
> coverage
>   5.. MP3 player to hold 500+ bird calls
>   6.. Sound recording capability ideally with the capacity to use an
> external mike
> Possible other wants are :-
>   1.. ability to load bird recording software
> What else should I want in a phone?
> So, what handset do I need, Who should my carrier be, what maps do I want,
> what other software etc, etc.
> Hope responding to this RFI will fill in your post Christmas birding lull!
> Oh, and may the new year bring many birds into your life.
> regards
> Peter
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