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Iphone for camera/clock

I was planning on using my iPhone as my camera and also as my clock/time piece. Thoughts on using electronics for these purposes. Will they hold their charge through the day in European countries?

Posted by
21326 posts

I have an Android smartphone rather than an iPhone. What I've noticed is that keeping the GPS service on all the time makes the battery drain faster. I try to remember to turn the locator function off if I'm not going to use it for a while for finding my way around.

I have never had my phone run totally out of juice, but I do not put a European SIM in it, so there are no phone calls and not much web surfing during the day, and I do not take a lot of photographs. It goes without saying, I assume, that playing videos is the kiss of death, battery-wise.

What you might do is use your iPhone heavily one day and see what happens. Take a lot of pictures. Wake the phone up every time you think of it. See what happens to the battery level.

Posted by
1416 posts

Many people use their phone’s camera while traveling. If you’re happy with the results you get and will not be printing enlarged photos it should be fine.

As far as battery life it will depend on many factors.

  • How often you use it.
  • What you use it for.
  • Has the battery degraded and can no longer hold a full charge.

If you’re concerned about getting through the day you can carry a power bank can recharge it.

Posted by
8014 posts

If you aren't getting an international phone plan, put the phone on airplane mode when you leave a wifi area to use it as a camera. Overnight, plug it in, set it on airplane mode and set the alarm. Using airplane mode while alarm is set will stop pings and dings from emails loading while you're sleeping, waking you up throughout the night. Make sure volume is turned up for alarm .

Posted by
21326 posts

One other thing: Be sure you have a way to back up your photos. If you don't want to have to delete any off the phone during your trip, be sure you have enough storage on the phone.

Posted by
11292 posts

"I was planning on using my iPhone as my camera and also as my clock/time piece. Thoughts on using electronics for these purposes."

I've done this for years (even before I had a smart phone, I used my flip phone for these), so it sounds like a good idea to me!

"Will they hold their charge through the day in European countries?"

They will hold a charge in Europe just as they do at home - with the caveat that if they are constantly searching for a signal, they use up battery faster. So, if your battery is going and discharges quickly, you can shut off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular signals when you're not actively using these things. Or you can just put it in airplane mode, which will shut these off (they can be turned on again individually if you need them). As acraven says, location finding also uses up battery, so you can switch that off when you're not using it.

Test it by taking bunch of pictures at home - does this discharge the battery to an alarming degree?

If your battery is getting old and so is not holding a charge like it used to, you will want to carry a backup external battery. Here's one that my mother uses with good results: and here's a review of various kinds with specific recommendations:

Posted by
28145 posts

It will also depend on which iPhone and which version of iOS you have on the phone.

I have noticed a huge - that's huge with a capital H - decrease in battery life after the upgrade from iOS 10 to iOS 11 recently. And it leaves everything toggled on.

But in general my SE gets way more battery life than my old iPhone 4s.

Posted by
333 posts

I was in Europe for most of September this year with my iPhone 7plus. I bought the Verizon International Plan (Travel Pass) for 10$ a day and used my phone for everything. The GPS was invaluable for getting around in Berlin, Munich, Paris and Rome. It gave train/subway specifics and everything- it was incredible! I also used the phone for alarms and exclusively for pictures, risking leaving my nice Canon at home. As for the camera, it does really well (even with 8X10 enlargements) EXCEPT in low light/artificial light environments. The iCamera has great megapixel and does very well in natural light, I took some incredible sunset pictures. However, when streetlights come on, or room lights (like in a restaurant) the camera struggles and it makes light streaks through the photos (I called them ghost streaks). I did a Colosseum by Night Tour in Rome. I got wonderful video and pictures at the Forum and outside. But inside the Colosseum, which had little lights in all the arches, but still a dim environment, I struggled to get a decent photo without streaks. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding another angle without the lights facing the camera, but other times there was no escape and I was stuck with my ghosts. As to battery life, most days I did just fine charging overnight, even using GPS regularly several times each day and taking (honestly) hundreds of pictures each day. Occasionally I would require a battery boost mid day. You might benefit by investing in a portable charger to carry with you if you’re concerned. Hope my info helps!

Posted by
728 posts

I travelled for two weeks in Switzerland and Italy this summer. Instead of using my heavy DSLR camera, I used my i-phone 7 plus and was completely happy with the Photos. I created a photo book through Shutterfly and picked a few of the best photos to enlarge and placed in my office. I was not disappointed with the quality. I backed up photos using the iXpand flash drive. I purchased from my local At&t store for about $50.00 - it worked perfectly. (I took around 1200 photos). I also used apps throughout the day for trains and used it for a clock. As long as I charged my phone each night, my battery life was fine throughout the day.

Posted by
8014 posts

For alarm clock- I put it in airplane mode so I don’t hear messages loading or texts/calls and plug it in at night so it is fully charged for the day.

Posted by
337 posts

Keep your phone in airplane mode most of the time, and you'll be fine.

But if you use maps for navigation--even offline--you'll use up your battery quickly. So keep a car charger handy, if you're driving.

Have fun!!

Posted by
996 posts

As others have already said, a lot depends on your phone and its age. How is it now for holding up during the day with multiple photos, apps, and the like being used?

Having said that, I use my iPhone for everything on our foreign adventures. I make sure I plug in the phone overnight, so that when I leave in the morning it has a full charge.

Double check the international plan you will be using so that you do not go over and wind up owing a small fortune.

If you're away from the hotel and wifi, consider turning off the wifi on your phone until you return. This saves battery life for me, at any rate.

And if you're going to be on a long day with possibly TONS of photos, consider carrying your charging cord and adaptor for a foreign outlet...just in case.

Have a great trip!!!

Posted by
2747 posts

Battery - I use my phone for maps (offline but the GPS still works) when walking around town so battery goes fast. I would highly suggest carrying a small power bank to recharge it during the day. I'd hate to be somewhere lovely at the end of the day and not be able to take a picture. Between photos, maps, logging into wifi when you find it - if you are actively using the phone a lot the battery won't last all day. But a portable charger is small, light and cheap - just charge it overnight and bring it with you.

Camera - if you like the pictures it takes then there is no reason to use a different camera. I am pretty into photography and bring a DSLR camera, but my husband just uses his phone and his pictures turn out very nicely. Plenty of people do this, to the point where there is not as much of a market for basic cameras as there used to be - so many people either use their phones or are hobbyists who want a more specialized camera. But I would make sure you can back up your photos - uploading to the cloud when on wi-fi works fine if your wifi is strong enough. This should not be a problem, it is just something to look for. I also email especially good pictures to myself. That way at least my absolute favorites are in my email if all else fails.

Clock - Yes. No need for a watch when out and about if you don't want one. Ditto for alarm clock in the hotel. Phones are really cutting into the market for these things as well. I prefer the phone for my alarm -I know exactly how to set it, I am used to the noise it makes, and I can trust it to work. I don't love waking up in the middle of the night and needing to grab my phone to know the time, I prefer to have a clock I can see easily, but that's not always possible when traveling. Some hotels (US and Europe and presumably other places) don't even provide clocks anymore.

Posted by
136 posts

I only take my iPhone and use it for everything- camera, talk, text, google maps, Skype, alarm, kindle, email.
Take a portable extra battery and carry it in your day bag all the time. Then charge your phone and battery at night.
Sometimes I need to use the extra battery, mostly I don’t but it’s good to have just in case.

Posted by
1179 posts

I have used mine this way for years. I have a 6s and am happy with the photos. I’m not so happy with iOS 11 battery changes.

So you’ll need two things - a battery pack and a photo storage device.

I have a small battery pack the size of my phone. I get several charges per day off of it. It can even power my laptop.

For photo storage I use a SanDisk iXpand flash drive. There is a compatable app that goes with it. So I have an offline backup for my photos that I can also transfer to my computer via flash drive.

Posted by
258 posts

I'm not into photography like some people but I prefer a nice compact digital camera for slightly better photographs than my iPhone 8. It has a good lens and works well in low light and for zoom shots. It fits in my front jeans pocket and uses an SD drive that I backup to my laptop each night. For my iPhone I use a Mophie battery case to double the life of my phone battery.

Posted by
3355 posts

Your iPhone already is a clock. Using your iPhone to set alarms is something I do when I travel. Both are not battery drains.

Using your iPhone as a camera IS a battery drain especially if you're editing, adjusting the focus as you take pictures, and sharing them. Because of this, I have a battery case for my phone that is there to recharge just in case.

If you have an iPhone SE and newer, you can get a new battery for $29 from Apple as they are replacing batteries all year due to their scheme of slowing down phones was outed to the media. That's at least a good opportunity to get a fresh battery at a good price.

To optimize your battery life, charge your battery only when it gets down close to zero. You don't want to keep charging it or always having it on charge as it will weaken the battery.

Posted by
86 posts

I too want to just use my iPhone 8 for my camera on this year’s trip. My concern is security while taking pictures. As in, not dropping the phone! My small camera has a wrist strap but my phone obviously doesn’t. Bandolier makes a cute case with cross body strap but it is $88. Hate to pay that much for something I’d only use while traveling. Any ideas?

Posted by
257 posts


For camera wrist strap, I use something similar to this:

The strap I have is smaller and lighter. Search for wrist strap on Amazon and see the options. The small thread loop will go through any opening on the cellphone case--remove case, loop the strap through an opening on the case, reinstall the case. Mine is looped through a speaker opening.

For my peace of mind, I sew a key chain slip ring inside my cross body day bag, then use this coil lanyard
attached to the phone wrist strap. I can use the phone/camera while still safely attached.

Posted by
86 posts

Lynn, what a great idea for a strap! That’s the kind of strap I have on my camera! And love the idea of attaching inside the purse or day bag.

I knew someone would have the answer!

Posted by
92 posts

Lynn- I'm also appreciative of your ideas for holding onto your phone. I haven't carried a smart phone before, and between dropping the thing, or someone grabbing it, I'm a little apprehensive. You have company, Cill, thanks for your question!

Posted by
92 posts

Thomas- I've also leaned in the direction of throwing all caution to the wind and getting a new digital camera in addition to getting a smart phone for our trip. Maybe. What kind of camera do you have? You use it mostly for low light shots?

Posted by
319 posts

On my first trip abroad I did not carry battery backup and I did run out of juice because I took so many photos. Now I always carry battery home and abroad.