Is a smartphone the way to go for Cambodia travel? Let's take a look at the "Swiss army knife" of electronics. The latest BlackBerrys, iPhones, Microsoft, Symbian, Android and Palm devices all can offer a huge range of functions. This short article is not to discuss which is the best Smartphone but if a Smartphone is the way to go to replace MP3 players, cameras, GPS devices, checking email and generally going online while taking your Cambodia vacation.
Cambodia is hot, dusty and the power supply is not that good. Generators abound and some of your electronic devices will not like the sometimes uneven power supply. Take a notebook, camera, GPS and MP3 player and you are talking of adding several kilos to your baggage, not to mention the problem of damage or security.
If your Smartphone does not use GPS, ie with a SIM card it will probably not work in Cambodia. Please check with your local mobile phone operator and make sure that you have global roaming added to your service if available. Cambodia uses GSM and you can get a local SIM card just about everywhere! Pay as you go with top up cards again, found just about everywhere. This is by far the cheapest way to do things, but your mobile phone must be GSM – with a removable SIM card.
These days, modern Smartphones, as well as more basic models have pretty good cameras, with flash which are fine for snapshots and sharing online, printing on normal sized paper but not for high level photography. The best pictures of the sights of Cambodia can be bought for a dollar as a collection of post cards. GPS can be a very useful function and it does work with Google maps in Cambodia – specifically with WiFi, but using GSM can be sporadic, depending where you are.
For email and web browsing, there are many cafés, hotel and restaurants in Phnom Penh, Siem Riep and Sihanoukville that offer free or very cheap WiFi. If you need a big screen, there are lots of internet cafés around. If you are using an iPhone, there are several travel applications available – but the reality is that the information available in a guide book is far easier to access. Information in travel apps tend to be rather light.