Tips: Stretching an iPhone 5 Battery Through a 6 Day Hike in Yosemite National Park

This will be a quick one folks! I just wanted to share how I made a stock iPhone 5 battery stretch 6 days on one full charge while using it only as a camera.

When traveling, I really love using my iPhone as my main point-and-shoot. Does it best my wife’s DSLR? Hell no, not even close. But it does take decent photos if you’ve mastered its quirks and the portability of it is second-to-none.

Upper Cathedral Lake

But what about on hiking trips? Not car-camping mind you, but hiking out in the middle of nowhere, where the nearest power outlet is literally days away?

In those cases you could either bring one of the many portable solar chargers that are now available at any camping/outdoor gear store, or even a hand-crank generator, but that’s just extra weight for me to lug around, not to mention misplace or lose. So when my week-long hike in Yosemite came along, I wanted to see just how far I could stretch a single charge on my iPhone 5, all while using it to snap frequent pics of the stunning beauty out there (and man, there is SO much!).

Now, on a typical day I use my phone to such a degree that I rarely get through a full 24 hour period without plugging it in. I am sure many of you can relate. So how did I accomplish 6 days straight? Let me tell you!

Dim Your Screen Brightness

Brightness Settings

Go under “Settings” and tap “Brightness & Wallpaper”. In that menu, use the slider to bring your brightness down to 50% (or as low as your poor eyes can stand).

Airplane Mode is Your Friend!

Turn off Airplane Mode

Tap “Settings” (if you aren’t still in there) and right up at the top you’ll see a toggle for “Airplane Mode”. Turn this bad boy on and leave it. This turns off your cellular service, WIFI and your Bluetooth connectivity. With this turned on, your phone stops continuously looking for something that, out in the middle nowhere, it will never find. If it was constantly searching? Your battery would be dead in way less than a day. So at the very least, switch Airplane Mode to the “on” position.

Turn Off Location Services

Turn Off Location Services

Tap “Settings” again, go down to “Privacy” and in there you will find “Privacy Services”. Click on that and hit the toggle at the top to turn that off. You will lose the geolocation of the pictures you snap, but the accuracy of that gets dodgy anyways when you are that far off of the grid.

Basically an iPod Touch…

That’s all I turned off! With all these services off, you’ve basically got an iPod Touch, but you can still utilize your camera (which I used continuously from the slider on the lock screen), snap a pic, check it out and lock the phone immediately afterward.

So how did this all work? Quite well! So well in fact that I took well over a hundred shots (a bunch of panoramas too) and, with less than 48 hours until I was back in civilization, I still had 50% battery left! I know! Not bad!

I am sure a lot of folks have tried this combo with varying degrees of success, but sometimes it’s good to read about a use case that actually occurred and worked. If there are any other services I missed let me know!

A Bit on Common Sense

I know it goes without saying but… I when I was hiking, I was with 4 other people who all had charged phones, compasses and maps on them… in other words: don’t take chances. If your phone is the only thing you have as a link to possible rescue, don’t try this out. It’s not worth it.

But, if you are properly prepared, I whole-heartedly recommend leaving your iPhone charger back in the car.

Out there it’s not going to do you any good anyways. ;)

Have fun and be safe!

Hardware: ōlloclip Review

I really love to photograph the world around me. It’s yet another way to tell the stories that I constantly see floating around in my day-to-day. They are also incredible reminders of times past, for better or worse.

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a camera at my disposal. When everything went digital, my instances of taking snapshots went up significantly. But when my phone became my go-to camera? That’s when the game changed completely. The ability to take great quality shots from something I carry with me pretty much all the time, was what changed me from a part-time “planned moment” photographer, to a full-time one.

Am I a professional by any means? Hell no. I am more of a hobbyist really. But I do love it and with each composition, I notice my eye getting better and my shots more interesting.

For the last couple of years, I have been using whatever version of the iPhone I owned at that time. I love the shots it takes and with the plethora of image manipulation apps at my disposal in the App Store it gives me a lot of opportunities whenever I find inspiration.

But there comes a time when you can feel you are reaching the limitations of the hardware at your disposal. Not that you want to abandon it completely, but that you simply wish you could somehow  “do more” with it.

Therein Lies The Rub:

When you reach the point I mentioned above, you have a few options. You can always upgrade to more powerful kit. Maybe a more powerful point-and-shoot? Maybe a gorgeous DSLR? But that’s yet another thing you have to carry around with you and it can also get expensive; not all of us have hundreds of dollars of disposable income.

You could also just learn to live with what you already have. But where is the fun in that? ;)

Wouldn’t it be great if there was something in between? Something that didn’t let you sacrifice your current situation (that camera that’s always in your pocket), but also gave you new avenues allowing you to expand upon what already works?

Enter, ōlloclip “3-In-One iPhone Photo Lens”…

ōlloclip 3-In-One iPhone Photo Lens

ōlloclip is a 3 lens kit that slides firmly over the back camera lens of your iPhone (there are two different kits, to accommodate that iPhone 5 and 4 form factors). You can get a description of it from their product page, but basically it is a tiny solution (seriously, it easily fits in your jeans pocket) that can deliver some really nice results that you could never achieve with your iPhone camera alone. Once attached it gives you the following:

  • A macro lens (with a 10X multiplier that allows you to focus an iPhone within 12-15mm)
  • A wide-angle lens (that doubles the field of view of the iPhone)
  • A fisheye lens (captures approximately a 180 Degree field-of-view)

That’s some pretty cool extra functionality and while I’ve only been using it on my iPhone 5 for a few months now, I am already loving the results that this tiny lens kit provides.

I particularly love the macro capability and am astounded that my phone can produce such shots. My second favorite is the fisheye, which has afforded me some neat artistic license, and while I haven’t used the wide-angle much, it’s definitely been handy when I’ve wanted to capture the horizon (while not doing a panorama).

What’s also fun is using these lenses while shooting video! You can create some pretty funky stuff if you feel so inclined!

The Build Quality.

ōlloclip 3-In-One iPhone Photo Lens

The first thing you notice when you unpack the ōlloclip is that, despite it’s weight, it feels rugged.

The clip part of the lens kit that is attached to the iPhone itself is a kind of soft plastic that, at first, had me worried about scratches on the front and back body of the phone. But, after using it for a bit, it is clear that it’s the soft build of the plastic that insures a tight fit on the phone, all the while protecting it.

The glass itself is housed in a rugged anodized aircraft grade aluminum that feels rigid, yet incredibly light weight.

The glass (arguably the most important part) is “precision ground glass multi-element optics” and while I am far from being a lens expert, I have been very pleased with the quality they produce. They each come with their own lens caps and the lenses themselves are also really easy to clean.

The kit itself comes pre-assembled with a tiny pouch that doubles as a handy lens cloth. I keep the whole kit in my breast pocket of my jacket or in my front pants pocket if it’s warmer. It’s so light that I hardly can tell its even there. Oh and if you are a traveler and are into light-weight minimalist systems, this will definitely help in that regard. I can’t wait to take this on my next trip anywhere.

Any Drawbacks?

As tiny as the kit is, it is oddly shaped. So my only wish really, is that I could take the entire assembly apart and somehow still protect the lenses from damage. In its current state I don’t really see a way to do that. But, as I stated above, you don’t really feel it in your pocket unless you bump into a wall or something and it jabs you.

Also, because of its size, I do worry about breaking it. I can’t help it. It’s not that it feels fragile or anything, it’s just that I personally can be really clumsy and, depending on the day, absent-minded. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I dropped it or sat on it some day. But again, as I stated above, the build quality is such that I have yet to feel that this little power-house would go down without a serious fight.

The results.

I can could sing the praises of the ōlloclip all day but really what matters is the quality of the pictures you take, so here are some examples:


A lot of these have been run through filters (you can tell which ones I am sure), but while I am no pro, I still am stunned that these were shot with an iPhone. At $69.99 I can heartily recommend it for folks looking to take their iPhone photography to that proverbial next level. It’s super easy to use and once you get the hang of it, I think you’ll be just as amazed as I’ve been!

Please Note: The pics in this review of the ōlloclip itself, are all linked from their site. I did not take those (though I wish I did).

Thanks for the recommendation! Now where can I get it!?

  1. At ōlloclip’s site.
  2. The Apple Store
  3. Best Buy
  4. Sprint Retail Stores