Home Other Don’t Fear a Laptop Ban: 6 Steps to Turn Your Smartphone into an In-Flight Computer

Don’t Fear a Laptop Ban: 6 Steps to Turn Your Smartphone into an In-Flight Computer

by Beth Ziesenis

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What’s worse than a long flight for a frequent flyer? A long flight without a laptop… courtesy of a ban on electronics on planes.

Security officials have banned laptops and tablets on certain international flights, and more travelers could be impacted if the ban extends. But with a little planning, you can transform your smartphone into a powerful productivity tool that can (almost) replace your laptop.


Step One: Get a Larger Phone

If you’re still carrying around a tiny phone, it’s time to upgrade. You want a larger screen, a faster processor and plenty of storage.


Step Two: Get a Bluetooth Keyboard

A portable keyboard may be the most important element for working comfortably on long flights. You have plenty of options – most of them less than $50. You want something that folds up nicely for storage.

I recommend ordering a few styles to find your most comfortable position. Here are a few varieties:

Mini keyboards that include a stand for your phone – make sure your phone case isn’t too big for the lip and that your hands are comfortable on the tiny keys.

Silicone roll-up keyboards – some of these are waterproof.

Ergonomic keyboards – nice option for the angle of your hands on the airport tray. Full-sized keyboards that are the same size as your laptop – I chose one of these that has a backlight for the keys and instant Bluetooth connections.


Step Three: Get a Phone Stand

You’re going to want to prop up your phone at a nice angle so you don’t have to strain to see the screen. Look for a stand with a little grip to it so it doesn’t slide off the tray. Another thing to think about is how much space it needs on your tray. You want as small of a footprint as possible so everything will fit.


Here are some stand options:

Case with a built-in stand – great for portability, but your phone may end up thicker than you want for daily use.

Simple tripod stand – make sure you get one that doesn’t tip over.

PopSocket stand – this was my ultimate choice… it’s a collapsible stand that sticks to the back of my case and serves as a stand and holder wherever I go.


Step Four: Buy a Strong Power Supply

Don’t skimp on your juice: Get a high-power external battery (10000mAh or more) with two or more charging ports so you can simultaneously charge your keyboard and phone. If you’re lucky enough to have a plug at your seat, you can plug your charger into the outlet so it continues to charge even as it charges your other devices.


Step Five: Plan Ahead for Your In-Flight Projects.

This may be a challenge for some of you who are used to just opening your laptop and having all your files and programs with you. Even when you connect your phone to wifi on the plane, you may have trouble pulling existing projects down from the cloud. So it’s best to think about what kinds of projects you can make progress on during your flight, such as a presentation, spreadsheet, document or other files, and then download them to your device before you leave. Avoid working on extra-large files on your phone. My 300MB PowerPoints are just too dang big to download.

Microsoft Office, Google Docs and Apple work apps all have options to work offline on copies on your phone. Microsoft Office Mobile Apps are insanely good on this front – and they’re free. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps have almost every single feature that the software programs do. You can format, add pictures, apply themes, add headers/footers, create tables and much more. It takes a little more patience because you have to choose the options from drop down menus and scroll more than you have to in the full versions.

You also might be able to tackle email offline or online during the flight. It’s wonderful to disembark with an empty inbox.


Step Six: Plan for When You Get Off the Plane

If you checked your laptop in your luggage (try a hard case like Pelican for a shockproof laptop protector), all you have to do to keep working is connect to the cloud and wait for your phone and laptop to synchronize.

But if you’ve ditched your laptop for the trip because working with your phone is all you need, you can use some inexpensive dongles and cables to expand the functionality of your phone even further.

Your phone can connect to monitors and projectors with the help of HDMI and VGA dongles, or even remotely with tools such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV. If you’re giving a presentation, you can even use the live mode in PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote and have your participants follow along on their own devices.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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