Dual Wielding

post by Zvi · 2019-08-27T14:10:00.715Z · score: 53 (27 votes) · LW · GW · 12 comments

Previously: More Dakka

Epistemic Status: The Dakka Files

Smartphones are wonderful things.

Get a second one. And get a lot of chargers.

I did this a week ago. My phone (a Google Pixel 2) had some sort of ink leak onto its screen, so I purchased a second one (a Google Pixel 3a) while I attempted to repair the old one. When the repair attempt was successful, but I hadn’t finished transferring some features and data across, I tried carrying around both.

It was clear by the end of the day that the second phone was a huge improvement.

On reflection, this was a basic case of More Dakka. A substantial portion of the people one interacts with worry about running out of phone battery, or running out of phone storage space, or needing to toggle too many things on their phone at once.

This solution solves all these problems right away.

Battery life more than doubles because of your newfound ability to charge one phone while carrying around or using the other. I have not come close to running out on either phone since doubling up. I have also been told that draining the batteries is bad for battery life, so long term this will pay additional dividends. A battery pack is an alternative, but they seem to be similar in size to phones and don’t allow the charging swap tactic, and also lack the accompanying additional benefits of dual wielding.

Storage space effectively doubles as well. Yes, some things must duplicate, but that still means effective storage space is doubled. Which is great, because I otherwise wanted a Google Pixel 3a rather than a 3, and its one issue for me is that it doesn’t give the option of extra storage space.

I can also do things like look up information on one phone while typing it into the other, comparing two things side by side, and other neat stuff like that. There are a number of apps that actively punish you toggling out of them in various ways, which this allows you to avoid.

Only one of the phones needs mobile data. The other can be purely on Wi-Fi. This also solves the problem of needing to know when to swap the Wi-Fi on and off due to speed issues, or to preserve data. It also means you don’t have to pay for an extra line.

It also solved two problems I did not expect it to solve. When my phone in theory has access to mobile data, my podcast app would often cut off access to recordings that were downloaded while it waited for some sort of download or query. I have no idea why this is the case, but once the old phone no longer had mobile data on it, this issue went away. Its battery life also dramatically improved, for obvious reasons. I regularly travel through dead zones, including one right outside my apartment and much of the subway, so this turns out to be a big deal.

Another problem is that one can put necessary (or simply desired) but distracting or tempting apps, such as games or social media (I don’t use social media on phones, but others claim this is not an option), and types of notifications one wants the ability but not the obligation to check, on one phone but not the other. This has proven to be a reasonably large win.

A related note is that you should keep charging wires for your phones (and your laptop or tablet) actual everywhere you ever sit down. In my apartment, I now have them permanently stashed in four locations, plus another set at my desk at the office, plus another set for carrying around. Wires are cheap on Amazon. There is no reason to constantly worry about where they are, whether you have lost one, bothering to move them or plug them in or wrap them up. Just overkill this. I kept buying more, and I kept  only later realizing I hadn’t bought enough.

12 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by jimrandomh · 2019-08-27T16:21:58.906Z · score: 41 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
A battery pack is an alternative, but they seem to be similar in size to phones and don’t allow the charging swap tactic

That's because you haven't used enough dakka. In addition to carrying an extra battery, you also leave an identical battery plugged in at each of the spots where you have a charger. You charge your phone by connecting it to the battery (with both in your inventory); you charge the battery by swapping the one in your inventory with the one that lives at the charger. This has the additional benefit that, in addition to solving the battery problem for yourself, if you find yourself with a group, you can solve the phone-battery problem for other people by lending or gifting them a charged battery.

comment by Zvi · 2019-08-28T11:31:58.001Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My lord, that's genius. I'm not sure it's necessary given I would want to dual wield anyway for other reasons, but if not, seems obviously correct.

comment by mr-hire · 2019-08-27T19:15:44.307Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Aren't phone batteries like unique snowflakes that only work with their specific phone?

(Note, one way to deal with this if indeed the battery thing is true for friends is to make sure to get long chargers that have multiple types of connections, I've used these ones from Amazon)

comment by jimrandomh · 2019-08-27T20:27:27.424Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If the phone has a removable main battery, and you're swapping that, then yes. If it's a standalone power bank with a USB port, then it's the cable that varies rather than the battery, and you only need a few varieties for complete coverage (micro-USB, USB-C and Lightning will charge pretty much any device you can find these days).

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2019-08-27T16:56:56.306Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That’s a great point, thx, will order second batter pack and charger today.

comment by tinyanon (aaron-teetor) · 2019-08-27T17:44:43.696Z · score: 38 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Under The Law of Equal and Opposite Advice I'm going to say that some people spend too much dakka on things that are actively harmful and I'd recommend literally the opposite.

I use Google Fi so I can text/call from anywhere I have internet on any device and then I simply leave my phone off hidden in my car for emergencies. I keep a small pocket notebook for anything I need to write down. I do take my phone out for podcasts or audiobooks while cleaning but that's it. If you have kids you probably do need to get a dumb phone to keep on you but otherwise no.

Phones destroy slack. They are not a compact cost and getting a smartphone was a horrible decision for me. Now I just write down what I'm interested in and check it when I get home. The things that were time wasters don't make it on the list. I batch more so I only need to check things once. I take more time to sit and think and relax. This is the single best thing I've done for my happiness in the last year.

comment by Zvi · 2019-08-28T11:30:13.925Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mad respect for this position. I do try to be at zero phones on me whenever it makes sense to do so, but alas my life doesn't really allow this. Also I listen to a lot of podcasts, which I don't regret at all.

comment by TheMajor · 2019-08-28T07:58:39.947Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Most of the problems you mention deal with limited battery life. I have never had any issues with this on my Huawei Nova, and in fact I only charge it every 2 or 3 days with normal use. Would you still recommend dual wielding if battery concerns are not an issue?

comment by Zvi · 2019-08-28T11:27:17.511Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you have zero battery life issues, and the other stuff never comes up, then probably not worth it. What I noticed was that worrying about running low takes up brain space long before running out becomes an issue, but if it's taking up zero brain space? Neat.

I'm guessing you use your phone differently. It's probably healthy.

comment by Error · 2019-08-29T02:46:18.901Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Datum: I have a Pixel 3 (known for a relatively small battery) and the only time battery becomes an issue is when I forget to put it on the charger overnight.

But I don't watch video (too small a screen), play games (ditto), send email (fuck phone keyboards), or do much of anything but SMS, rare phone calls, and internet lookups when I'm away from a keyboard. I think a lot of worrywarting over phone battery capacity stems from trying to use them for things that are better done on a real computer.

That said, I got an external battery after reading this post. I have one use case: at conventions, when I use it constantly to read the schedule. Buying something for a single use case seemed out of line at first, but eventually I thought of it this way: if I'm willing to spend $30 for slightly more convenient parking, I should be willing to spend $30 to stop worrying about phone charge forever.

comment by Jacobian · 2019-08-27T15:18:00.366Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Updating slightly that dual-wielding is a good idea. Updating significantly that the Pixel has a crappy battery - my Note 9 only ever finished the day below 30% during the short while I was obsessed with Bloons TD 6.

comment by FactorialCode · 2019-08-27T20:08:30.774Z · score: 2 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This of course, leads naturally to a new app/os idea. We need a way to semi-seamlessly use two phones together as if they were a single phone. Like dual monitors, but with phones.