Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives

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Booted Cat
Booted Cat Senior Member • Posts: 1,283
Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives

As someone seeking a 10x optical zoom, near-7-inch phone, I have found the Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ to have better IQ than the Samsung S21 Ultra, thanks to people on this forum and people I talked to at Huawei stores I toured recently. I'm also informed to watch the Huawei P50 series to be released by the end of this month which will bring about even better optics such as a 1-inch Sony IMX800 sensor.

Safety of premium phones

When the "Which phone has better IQ" question was getting settled, another question arose in my mind: "How do I protect a premium phone such as the Mate 40 Pro+ or S21 Ultra from theft or robbery?" If you live in an upper social class and people around you are always as rich as you are, this is not a problem; but if you actually have little income and buy a premium phone via a 24-month financing plan, and you actually read the phone on bus and subway, you have a real risk of getting some bad guy's attention.

So far, the best solution I can think of is to "take two phones", one ordinary (such as my Xiaomi Mi Max 3) and one premium, and use the ordinary one for most tasks and only use the premium one when the environment is safe and there is a valuable photography subject.

What's your idea?

Budget alternatives

I have also been having the Xiaomi 10 Youth on my mind as it is a budget phone with a 48MP main camera and 5x optical zoom. It can replace my current "ordinary" phone Xiaomi Mi Max 3 so that even my "ordinary phone" would have 5x optical zoom. However, just like we should hold on and wait for the Huawei P50 series on the premium product segment, Xiaomi 11 Youth is also coming out this month on the cheap segment. So I'm holding on for my ordinary phone upgrade as well.

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PhotoFactor Veteran Member • Posts: 3,805
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
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Insurance?

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jaberg
jaberg Regular Member • Posts: 123
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
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I’ve carried a premium phone since the day the iPhone was first introduced and I’ve never given this a moments thought. Just as with an expensive camera — the various Leica threads seem to frequently mention a similar concern (that I don’t share, and I daily carried an M6 in NYC for years) — use the tool but don’t flash it around, and always be aware of your surroundings. A friends daughter did lose her iPhone to a local snatch-n-grab artist so my policy is that I’m either using the phone or have it in my pocket — though (pre-COVID) I often broke this rule while sitting at a bar — I generally trust my bartenders. This has worked for me so far, but I suppose my lucky streak could be broken at any time. So it goes.

David Hobby notably (or notoriously) “disguised” his Fuji x100 with a bad gaff tape masking job. (I have always blacked out my cameras, either with tape or black nail polish, but I do so neatly.) You could disguise an expensive phone by using a cheap case — though the 10X optical zoom might be a bit of giveaway.

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Booted Cat
OP Booted Cat Senior Member • Posts: 1,283
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives

jaberg wrote:

I’ve carried a premium phone since the day the iPhone was first introduced and I’ve never given this a moments thought. Just as with an expensive camera — the various Leica threads seem to frequently mention a similar concern (that I don’t share, and I daily carried an M6 in NYC for years) — use the tool but don’t flash it around, and always be aware of your surroundings. A friends daughter did lose her iPhone to a local snatch-n-grab artist so my policy is that I’m either using the phone or have it in my pocket — though (pre-COVID) I often broke this rule while sitting at a bar — I generally trust my bartenders. This has worked for me so far, but I suppose my lucky streak could be broken at any time. So it goes.

David Hobby notably (or notoriously) “disguised” his Fuji x100 with a bad gaff tape masking job. (I have always blacked out my cameras, either with tape or black nail polish, but I do so neatly.) You could disguise an expensive phone by using a cheap case — though the 10X optical zoom might be a bit of giveaway.

Premium phones generally offer zoom levels up to 50x or 100x (digital of course), and if you dial it to 10x, other people won't be able to tell if it's an optical or digital zoom.

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(unknown member) Regular Member • Posts: 160
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
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Booted Cat wrote:

[cut] So far, the best solution I can think of is to "take two phones", one ordinary (such as my Xiaomi Mi Max 3) and one premium, and use the ordinary one for most tasks and only use the premium one when the environment is safe and there is a valuable photography subject.

What's your idea?[cut]

When you read official, embassy travel advice, you often read something akin to: Don’t show valuables or cameras, don’t carry money, and avoid getting cash from ATM’s” etc. Try to look like the locals! (I’ve never really managed to do that in Africa and Asia - I’m white And on and on with mostly well meaning drivel, that is more scaring than usable.

Hmmm... no chance of any snapshot, plus... how do I get cash without queueing for hours, when I’m not to go near ATM’s? The only way to avoid cash is Apple Pay or Google Pay, but they don’t work in large parts of the world.

You cannot avoid being targeted by professionals. If you go about your life scared of what may happen, the real pro’s will spot you “miles against the wind”. You have no chance to avoid it, if you’re targeted by pro’s or desperate people, like e.g. addict needing money for a “refill”. So you may as well relax, and keep half an eye on your environment.

The only thing you can do, is getting a comprehensive travel insurance with liberal amounts upward - you’ll be surprised of additional costs accruing even from simple theft - from a company specializing in travel - everywhere (really important) in the world. Read the contract thoroughly before signing anything - take days without the agent breathing down your neck - and plan on getting the contract ample time before travel. Some companies require, that your insurance is paid and valid several weeks BEFORE first day of travel. Be sure on provisos like that!

I’m an OFU (not an UFO, but an OFU = Old Fat and Ugly) and I have traveled all over the World since the early years of this Millennium. The only continent I have not visited - yet - is Antarctica. I’ve mostly been my own travel guide - planning everything myself - and been virtually in every environment possible - from 4.900+ meters cold and gasping for air in the Altiplano to far above 44-45C chewing on fine sand with fantasies of water surplus in the Arabian desert. Boating through river bends with illegal gold mining at day to strolling along in the center of mega city’s at night, with or without people around. In most cases with a camera with mounted bazooka (14-140, 18-200 or 28-300 mm) dangling in front of my impressive airbag.

I have been in “scrapes”, but not really anything serious.

In august 2015 I lost all my gear in a safe place - I thought - in Marseille. I sat inside an ice-cream parlor. Bag leaning on me on my right side. Facing the Harbour outside. Hedge and table and chairs in front of me. Nobody able to enter unseen. Felt safe. Suddenly a person to the left of me started talking to me over the hedge to the next door shop. Turned the head shortly, but decided to ignore the guy. Happened once more. Ten seconds at the maximum. After around twenty seconds I felt “naked” on my right side, where my bag was - or rather: had been. Quick, quick to the front and looking. Nobody running. Nobody carrying anything like my bag or something that could hide my bag. No one else in the ice cream parlor noticed anything.

In short, I’ve been discretely fleeced by real pro’s! Quietly and dare I say: elegantly? Real pro’s, no fuzz. No upheavals. Not noticed before it was far too late.

I lost my MacBook Pro, my Panasonic camera and a nice selections of lenses. Plus bits and pieces of lesser value. All in my “theft prevention bag” (PacSafe), where everything was probably still safely stored within the bag; only in other hands

What saved me, was, that I never, EVER carry smartphone, passport, money, credit cards etc. in a bag. I have a travel west with inner pockets for these items. It may become hot in 40+C, but I can live with that. It’s my own stink - only bothering other people

It took a couple of hours at the “barricaded” central police station in Marseille. Waiting in company with a nice collection of victims of all sorts of crimes - mostly simple theft. The police business conducted by Madame le Commissaire was quick, relaxed and to the point. She even informed me, that she hated this kind of work, but she was the only one present in the station that day speaking English - upper echelon police small talk

Things were - ahem - painless due to the fact, that I had NOT lost my passport. I had NOT lost any money or any credit card, and my computer was encrypted. I had an encrypted copy of my passwords in a safe online storage, so I could start altering access codes to my most pressing accounts on my smartphone immediately after returning to my hotel. Just in case, someone succeeded in breaking my - then - fairly simple login code to Apple’s FileVault II.

In the hotel safe was a backup credit card and a backup phone, had I had the need. Plus backup of all images made up to that day. Loss was minimal.

After returning back to my own country, it took around 5-7 days to alter, kill or modify all my 400+ logins (now lowered to far fewer, most with two-factor logins etc.). No duplicate passwords! I ordered a new customized Apple computer the day I arrived home, and it arrived after a week from Shenzhen in China. After rolling the backup back, I was up and running practically as before within 24 hours.

Insurance paid up (remember to keep your invoices safe) after roughly a month.

And since then, I have again travelled all over the world - alone or on tours as was necessary - in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe without real problems. In all environments imaginable.

I have never met a crazed addict, but I may of course be unlucky in the future. Just as anyone else may run into similar trouble. But I travel to see the world first hand, and my experience tells me, that poor quarters do not pose more problems, than the rich environments, although “upper crust” streets have been the places, where I’ve experienced the most serious “scrapes”. Never parts of a city with low incomes or dirt poor.

Take out a serious insurance and behave with necessary precautions. Always have spare money, credit card, phone and passport in the hotel safe. And carry walkabout sets and money in INNER pockets on your own person. NEVER in bags!

Then relax, enjoy and live.

Chances are, that you will not experience anything untoward. If you do, you can just hope for “professional treatment”, where you’ll probably not notice anything before it’s far to late. Most are “blessed” by that.

Robbery happens and I’ve seen that happen in full daylight in a populated café in the center of a European city Luckily at a distance, and the item in question was a smartphone pulled by force from a young woman sitting in the middle of a crowd. A lot of screaming, but she lost the phone.

Sh*t happens. Just be prepared, as well as possible, and know what you will or have to do, if you’re on the receiving end. I can promise you, it will be exciting, even if completely unnoticed, and it will take a couple of hours before your heart rate is somewhat normal again. Your rage may take several days to subside

Regards

Drzewoid Regular Member • Posts: 446
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
2

In my opinion, investing a lot of money in a phone is pointless. It is better to find a slightly cheaper phone, which may turn out to be only slightly worse than the top one, and costs e.g. 1/2 of its price. This is the real art and not looking for a top phone, especially if it's a purchase in a long term financing plan.

For example, Mate 40 PRO Plus is an incredibly expensive phone, but for half of this amount you can buy P40 PRO Plus and you have photos at almost the same level - maybe 5% difference that you will not notice in everyday use. The 10x zoom is nice as an add-on, but you won't be using it all the time. Personally, I found that for me 3x is more important and much more often used and this is the basic zoom, and instead of the 10x zoom I would prefer 5 or 6x!

An expensive phone looks nice in the store and I know how it invites you to buy, but any flagship phone gets boring very quickly, no matter what camera it has or how fast the processor is. As a last resort, you'll just get used to it and it won't make any difference whether you're using a super-hyper flagship smartphone or the one you currently have. I recommend choosing wisely and not getting too hot to buy the best phone For sure, this forum will help you choose the best.

vv50
vv50 Contributing Member • Posts: 775
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
2

Booted Cat wrote:

So far, the best solution I can think of is to "take two phones", one ordinary (such as my Xiaomi Mi Max 3) and one premium, and use the ordinary one for most tasks and only use the premium one when the environment is safe and there is a valuable photography subject.

What's your idea?

statistically you are twice more likely to misplace your phone than have it stolen, owning two phones means you're doubling the risk of losing personal data. also, phone thefts are  crimes of opportunity like when the phone is left unattended in public places, cars or homes, they are not targetted specifically for models of high value.

jaberg
jaberg Regular Member • Posts: 123
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
1

Booted Cat wrote:

Premium phones generally offer zoom levels up to 50x or 100x (digital of course), and if you dial it to 10x, other people won't be able to tell if it's an optical or digital zoom.

I was referring to the physical presence and potentially unique appearance of the lens or lenses. The three lens cluster of my phone gives it away as  “premium”  and can’t be concealed by a case without diminishing the camera systems capabilities. A beat-up case might confound a casual observer but won’t fool a careful, knowledgeable observer.

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vv50
vv50 Contributing Member • Posts: 775
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
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jaberg wrote:

. A beat-up case might confound a casual observer but won’t fool a careful, knowledgeable observer.

regardless of the appearance of the phone or case, someone committing theft is going to pick on the ones where it's observed that the owners don't guard them

jaberg
jaberg Regular Member • Posts: 123
Re: Safety of premium phones and budget alternatives
1

I believe I mentioned “situational awareness” in my initial comment on this thread.

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