Guest Review by Bart Busschots of bartb.ie – Cycling With My iPhone
My preferred form of exercise is cycling. I want to have my iPhone with me for two reasons – to play podcasts, and to track my workout. Physically doing that is not as easy as you might think.
I tried slipping my iPhone into the back pocket of my cycle jersey, and running the cable from my headphones down through the jersey, then up and around into the pocket from the bottom. That stopped me snagging the cable on things (I broke so many headphones that way over the years), but I soon noticed that those back pockets don’t stay dry on a good workout, so that wouldn’t work.
Next I tried a cheap armband with my wired headphones. The cheap armband refused to stay on my arm, even when tightened uncomfortably tightly, and it’s not even water proof, so after a very narrow escape from a heavy Irish shower, and breaking ANOTHER set of headphones by snagging the cable on something, I decided it was time to re-think things.
A few months ago I found a new armband, and set of bluetooth headphones that are working really well for me, solving all my previous problems, and fixing a few others I didn’t even realise I had! I held off on this review to be sure these products worked for me long-term, but enough time has passed now for me to be comfortable recommending them.
First – a cheap water resistant armband that does not slip down my arm – the iGadgitz Reflective Anti-Slip Neoprene Sports Gym Jogging Armband (http://www.amazon.co.uk/iGadgitz-Reflective-Anti-Slip-Neoprene-Jogging/dp/B005QA2048/ref=sr_1_1) – I got mine from Amazon.co.uk for £7.99. Allison’s affiliate link in the US: http://amzn.to/1R8TReb
The band cocoons the entire iPhone behind water-proof plastic, and the entire surface is covered in little rubber dots that really work to keep it on your arm, even while mountain biking along rough tracks. Since buying it a few months back it has not slipped off my arm once, and it has kept my phone dry during some absolutely torrential downpours.
Second – bluetooth bone conducting headphones – Damson Headbones (http://damsonaudio.com/pages/headbones) – I picked mine up from Maplin for €134.99. Allison’s affiliate link in the US: http://amzn.to/1O1adHm
Things I’m happy about:
- Because these are bone-conduction headphones, they leave your ears COMPLETELY un-coverd – much safer for cycling and jogging than regular headphones
- Because they use Bluetooth – no cables to get tangled!
- the battery lasts surprisingly long – I have yet to charge it more often than once a week. The iPhone shows a very handy battery indicator in the top menu bar when the device is paired (iOS 9 also shows the battery level in the notifications pull-down)
- they are designed to be used for outdoor sporting activities, and assuming you close over the little rubber covers over the ports, they appear to be waterproof – I’ve gotten well and truly soaked a few times with them on, and there have been no adverse effects.
- for listening to podcasts the sound quality is at least as good as any other sports headphones I’ve ever used – and they seem to deal with wind and traffic noise better than anything else I’ve used before
- there is a speaker built in, and a button to answer calls – the quality is as you would expect for calls – acceptable
- The headphones ship with a nice hard case with a clip so you can attach them to a backpack. The hard case has room for the headphones and the USB charging cable.
Things that could be better:
- if you take care to wear them properly, they are surprisingly comfortable for something so robust looking, but, after an hour or two, they begin to get uncomfortable, more so than ordinary headphone do. You also have to be careful when putting on your cycle helmet to make sure the straps are not pressing onto the ‘ear pieces’ because the extra pressure will make them start to feel uncomfortable after just 10 or 15 minutes
- the volume buttons on the back of the battery pack are hardware buttons – they do not alter the volume on the phone – if you turn the volume down with them, you won’t be able to turn it back up from the phone (or from your smart watch). I’ve found that it’s Best to leave the hardware buttons close to full volume, and adjust with the phone.
- loud bass sounds can result in weird feeling vibrations where the headphones touch your face – the sensation is in no way painful, it’s just a bit odd, and I find myself adjusting the volume more often than I normally would to avoid that happening.
- They’re not cheap!