Make Your Smartphone Your Computer

My smartphone as my computer.
Writing a blog post on holiday in 2016.

Do you carry a mobile phone? Most of us do. Except that we don’t. The modern smartphone is a very powerful handheld computer.

But we know that! it not only makes phone calls, but runs apps.

So how can you use it as a computer and leave that heavy laptop behind. Well, the smartphone just works, held in your hand operated with fingers and thumbs. But it can be inconvenient, so we need to add a few accessories.

Add a Keyboard

I use my smartphone for many things, including making travel notes and writing blog posts, working on spreadsheets and much more. In fact I have been doing that for several years – see this post from South Africa in 2016.

When you are away from home and typing those blog posts or long e-mails or WhatsApp messages to the family the keyboard makes life so much easier. Especially if those fingers are not so nimble any more.

In practice the keyboard connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth. I use an Omoton keyboard similar to the one pictured. Compact and light, it is just the right size. It has the added advantage that it uses AAA batteries, so no issues about packing lithium battery powered kit – it simply slips into my case between my shirts.

There are many different Bluetooth keyboards which will do the job – check out the Amazon offerings.

And What About A Mouse

My Android devices function very well with a bluetooth mouse. I cannot comment about iPhone devices as I have not tried this. It was not possible with some of the older Apple devices.

But, to be fair, my bluetooth mouse generally lives at home.

When traveling I normally carry a stylus. That’s much more useful than the mouse in general, as you can use it while holding the phone in your hand. It also does not need batteries or connection to Bluetooth – it just works.

Make It Stand

And so, we have a smartphone lying flat connected to a keyboard. How unpleasant to use. At this stage we need a stand to make the whole thing come together.

There are many options for phone cases with stands. My favourite is a good leather case which protects the phone in all sorts of situations.

But! Change phones and you need a new case. Normally the case allows the phone to stand up in landscape mode, but sometimes vertical portrait mode is more useful. As when you are writing a blog post.

I found these neat stands, which now live in my travel case. They see regular use, sometimes just for backing up photos, or using the Kindle app on the phone.

You May Need a Screen

Now that the keyboard and mouse are connected, the smartphone screen presents a bit of a challenge, mainly due to its small size. Again, I can’t speak for Apple, but some Android phones have “Dex”. Simply plug the handset into a screen via HDMI, and it goes into full screen mode.

Many newer computer screens have HDMI. Your hotel room may well have a TV with HDMI. Simply plug in using a USB-C to HDMI cable. It’s also great for showing off the photos that you have taken with that magic multiple camera which most higher end mobiles now have.

If you use it for longer periods why not try a hub, which will charge the handset at the same time, and provide an SD Card reader. ( I have not tried this one. Yet!)

Can You Really Make Your Smartphone Your Computer

Put Simply: YES! Especially with these simple accessories.

Actually the answer is a lot more complex, as it depends on what you do.

Our work systems (my design) use Remote Desktop Services (RDS). With a big screen I can work for extended periods on the phone only. But I can’t do it all. There are a few tasks which need the power of a bigger computer.

The smartphone as your computer really does work for short trips, say up to a week, and you can do a lot with it. If your needs are limited to the apps on the phone, then you can go much longer.

Personally, for longer trips, I have a Chromebook. But that’s a discussion for another day.

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Make your smartphone your computer.
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