By Richard Singleton


It’s summer time! Time for iced tea and lemonade. Time for hammocks and vacations. Time for road trips and youth camps. Time for bursting thermometers and slathering on enough sunscreen to create a minor upheaval of the global economy.


As the temps soar and the swelling voices of thunderous kids rise with praise of summer break, there might be a few technology considerations that you have as you enter the sweltering climes of central Texas. Specifically, depending on where you’ll be casting your shadow during the hottest rays of the year, you might want to rethink your phone of choice.


No doubt you or your tech-toting kids will be near a body of water this summer. Many of you or them will spend more time near the water than anywhere else. What are the best devices to have along when a phone baptism might be imminent? The Sony Xperia Z2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 are both rocking water and dust proof ratings high enough to allow you to make a mistake near the pool or beach and not turn your phone into a soggy paperweight or a bad sand castle shovel. The S5 has a slightly higher dust proof rating, the Sony a slightly higher water proof rating. A quick Google search will reveal some intrepid souls who’ve taken their waterproof testing to the extreme –and with some pretty stunning results. I’ll just say there was a washing machine involved in one test and not a few who have taken the testing to the shower (but, that’s an article for another day).


Suffice it to say, your trip to the pool is probably going to be just fine with either of these phones, especially if you’re in the pool and the phone isn’t. In fact, might I suggest the ultimate waterproof excursion: leave the phone at home and enjoy the beach.


Perhaps, like me, your summers are better enjoyed when there’s a porch, a breeze and a soaking in the dusk, not the water. Where I grew up, my cousin and I would always find time each summer to chase a few fireflies. Our temporary sanctuary of choice for our glowing prizes was a mason jar, and the chase always seemed to be done barefooted and with no attention to the dimming light and the lack of awareness of where a tree might decide to introduce itself during a full-blast sprint to the illuminated charm of the summer lightning bug kingdom. Oh how I wish I had some pictures of us from those last few moments of dusk, sprinkled with little green lights. Back then, pics weren’t a vital part of every experience. We didn’t snap shots of our food, didn’t do duckface selfies and didn’t labor to document all our fun. Times have changed. Taking pictures and sharing them with a few million good friends is a staple of modern life. So often, the best summer pictures are those in the evening –the time of day when it’s actually survivable to be outside. All phones aren’t created equal when it comes to snapping pics in the dusky moments of the evening.


If you’re looking for a summer phone that does well in the blurry dimness of the evening, the HTC One M8 might be just for you. It doesn’t sport the same massive camera sensor that many of the other phones do, but it does have the unique ability to do better in the dark because of its clever use of larger-rather-than-more approach to pixels. It’s not waterproof, so you’ll want to keep it away from trying its hand at dog-paddling, but because of its top-of-the-line front facing speakers, it would be a great little gadget to have when you’re in the mood for some evening tunes and don’t have the luxury of a proper full-throated jazz lounge on your back patio.


Summer’s not all fun and games, though. Sometimes you have work to do. Like so many road warriors these days, you’re likely never too far away from your business responsibilities, to-do lists or calendar. Even so, you often want to find just a little time to slip away to your own little summer oasis. That might mean that you have to do a little work from the shoreline, squeeze in a spreadsheet review while lunching at your favorite summer food trailer or exchange some document edits while zooming away to your favorite mountainside get away. If you’re tied to the Microsoft Office Suite, then Windows Phone 8.1 might be your ticket to getting business and pleasure taken care of simultaneously.


The Lumia 930, for instance, will meet your need to feel at home with your office software while on the road and exploring the great outdoors. While you’re at it, you’ll have a massive 20 megapixel shooter at the ready for those amazingly crisp, clear and colorful shots of wildlife and snow capped mountains. Your friends back here in Texas might be a little jealous for a while, but you’ll have the pictures to prove that you had the good sense to head out of the heat for a couple of weeks on your amazing summer getaway.


No matter if you’re lucky enough to have a snazzy phone for your summer escapades this year or not, remember to make it an adventure. Life is too short to stare at your phone all summer. No matter how water proof, no matter how great a camera, no matter how silky the speakers or how amazing the business apps, please remember to put down your phone and pick up your kids, store away your devices and unpack your hiking gear, turn off the screens and turn on the most amazing scenes that you’ll ever see. Summer is here. Enjoy it responsibly!


Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.


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