Summer has officially begun in the UK. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a summer of barbeque weather, great music, brilliant sporting results and long weekends spent away with friends and family. For many of us, an essential part of summer will be the quintessential British music festival.
The festival season begins this weekend with Wychwood Festival (8-10 June) and as the summer progresses, we’ll be looking forward to a whole range of great festivals including Download Festival (9-10 June), Beach Break Live (14-18 June), Isle of Wight Festival (22-24 June), T In the Park (6-18 July), Reading & Leeds Festival (24-26 August) and Creamfields (24-26 August).
In this article, we present our top 10 tips for using your mobile phone at a music festival. We look at how you can keep your phone safe and secure at a festival, how to stay on top of all the festival gossip and how to ensure that your mobile phone doesn’t run out of battery whilst you’re there.
1. Do you really need your smartphone?
Many of the latest smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X have a value of around £500 when you buy them SIM-free. With the possibility of wet weather and large crowds, a music festival really isn’t the friendliest environment for a smartphone to be in. Combine that with the fact that smartphones need to be charged every day and it could be much more of a logical option to take a cheap feature phone to the festival with you.
It’s possible to get a decent feature phone for under £50 and providing it’s been unlocked, you can simply slot your current giffgaff SIM card inside it. You’ll have the exact same phone number as normal so your friends can continue to contact you in the normal way but you’ll benefit from better battery life and fewer worries about damaging an expensive smartphone.
2. Take a portable charger
Whilst it may be possible to find mobile phone charging stations at most music festivals, these can sometimes be expensive and you’ll be out of contact whilst your phone has been left to charge. A great alternative to using a mobile charging station at festivals is to use a “portable battery pack”. These pocket-sized accessories are available from most good electronics retailers, costing around £30 with the ability to store up to 10,000mAh of charge. Today’s top-end smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X can store around 2,000mAh of charge in their internal batteries so these portable battery packs should store enough juice to charge your phone fully 4 or 5 times. The great thing about having a portable battery pack is that you can carry it around with you and continue to use the phone whilst it’s charging.
3. Keep an eye on the weather
It can be important to keep one eye on the weather when you’re at a festival so you know whether to pack the sunscreen or don the wellies. If you’ve got an Android phone from HTC or Samsung, your smartphone should come with a built-in weather widget and application that will show you the latest weather forecast on your homescreen. Alternatively, iPhone users can download the free application from the UK Met Office for the latest weather forecast.
4. Think about security
Music festivals can often be crime hotspots and mobile phones can regularly go missing. You can help to secure your phone by following our smartphone security tips before you go: for example by adding a security code to help protect your personal information. We also recommend registering your mobile phone so you can get it back in the event of a loss or theft. It may also be worth installing a GPS tracking application which can help to recover your phone.
5. Get a tough case for your phone
With mud and rain expected at many festivals, festivals can be a harsh environment for electronic devices. To help protect your device against the elements, we recommend a toughened protective case that is waterproof and shock-proof. Our resident blogger Will has reviewed a large range of cases that are designed for use outdoors.
6. Get a rugged handset instead
If you spend a lot of time outdoors and at music festivals, a great alternative to buying a case for your current phone could be to buy an entirely new “rugged” handset for use outdoors. We’ve explored the range of rugged handsets that are available for use outdoors and looked at how you can compare them using “IP Certification” ratings. It’s possible to get a rugged feature phone for around £75 – alternatively a high-end rugged smartphones will cost around £200. The benefit of a rugged smartphone is that it can automatically synchronise contacts, e-mail and calendar appointments with your normal handset over-the-air meaning you shouldn’t notice a huge difference when using it.
7. Download the festival schedule & map before you leave
Mobile phone reception isn’t always ideal at music festivals – a large number of people in one field simultaneously making calls and texts can cause mobile networks to become slow and overloaded. For this reason, it is a good idea to download the festival schedule and map to your smartphone before you leave home. Most festivals provide a map and schedule in PDF format on their website and this can be saved to your phone and opened with the built-in PDF reader application. Trying to download a new version of the map or schedule each time is likely to be very unreliable at a festival.
8. Keep an eye on Twitter for news on secret gigs
Occasionally bands choose to play “secret gigs” at music festivals. The best place to keep your finger on the pulse of the rumour mill is Twitter. Twitter’s mobile site can be accessed from your smartphone web browser or you can download a free application for your iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone. Music festivals often have their own official Twitter accounts too: for Wychwood it’s @Wychwoodfest. It’s worth following these accounts for news and announcements.
9. Keep an eye on battery usage
It’s likely that you’ll be away from a power socket for a long time at a music festival so it’s important to keep an eye on the applications and processes on your phone that are consuming power. We’ve got an in-depth guide on preserving your mobile phone’s battery life.
One way of significantly improving battery life at a music festival is by turning off e-mail synchronisation. Not only does this save huge amounts of power, it also means your weekend away won’t be interrupted by e-mails from the boss. Two birds with one stone.
10. Keep your phone out of the Sun
Mobile phones and the batteries within them are designed to be at their optimum performance rating at room temperature. We recommend against leaving your phone in direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time as this reduces battery life and causes long-term wear and tear to your battery.
In this article, we’ve looked at the music festivals occurring across the UK this summer and presented several tips for getting the best out of your mobile phone whilst you’re there. Are you planning to go to a music festival this summer? If so, which ones? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Have you ever lost a mobile phone in the festival mud? We’d love to hear your thoughts!!
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