Note 4 Roadtrip: How Productive Can I Be With A Smartphone?

Modern smartphones are as powerful as computers and offer a broad range of apps — but is it possible to give up your PC entirely and still do your job? Next week, I’m going to find out when I take to the road equipped only with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

The premise is simple: I have to perform all the tasks I normally would as Lifehacker’s editor, including writing and commissioning stories, taking pictures and shooting video, organising schedules and selecting US content, attending meetings and recording interviews, with the Note 4 as the only gadget I can use. To add to the degree of difficulty, I’m also taking part in the NaNoWriMo novel writing challenge, so I’ll be aiming to produce 1700-odd words a day of fiction along with all those other tasks.

Rather than just staying in the office, I’ll be hitting the road and heading around Australia by plane and by train. I travel an awful lot for work anyway, and testing how well the device works in transit is a useful way of measuring whether people could realistically travel with only a phone — no tablet, no PC — and still be productive. An added twist: I’m also going vegetarian for November as part of the Veghacker challenge, so I’ll have to adjust my sometimes lazy work travel eating habits (no Bacon & Egg McMuffin for me!),

I’ll be aiming to test out as many of the Note 4’s features as possible, including its stylus for note-taking and drawing and its ability to run multi-window apps. I’m even going to have a crack at some video editing.

Longtime Lifehacker readers will recall that I’ve performed similar challenges in the past: with the BlackBerry Torch in 2011, and with the BlackBerry Z10 last year.

One conclusion from those experiences was that I really like physical keyboards. The Note 4 has a much broader range of apps and modern smartphone browsers give me access to most of the work tools I need, but I’m curious to see how well I’ll sustain typing with a touch screen over long periods, and how much difference the bigger screen and the ability to open multiple windows at once makes. I refuse to call the Note 4 a “phablet”, but being in pseudo-tablet mode should make more productive. Or at least that’s the theory.

One other note: with both those previous challenges, I also took no luggage whatsoever other than what I could fit in my pockets. I’ve proved that’s possible, so I’m not planning to repeat that aspect of the experiment. I will be aiming to keep my packed gear to an absolute minimum though, and fitting it all into a single messenger bag. I won’t need to check baggage at any point, I won’t be weighed down by a lot of stuff, and I won’t have to take my laptop out of my bag to get screened at airports.

The challenge kicks off on Monday, when I’ll start the day in Allure’s office in Sydney before heading to Newcastle, and will discuss the apps and travel gear I need to make this a reality. Join me then!

Lifehacker’s Note 4 Roadtrip series is sponsored by Samsung.

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