We all browse Bernard's great site and take a gander at what other people are carrying. One trend I have noticed is the number of people that use their smartphone as their flashlight. So, in this day and age, where the smartphone can take the place of your credit card and buy you a cup of coffee, is it necessary to carry a separate flashlight at all?
There are lots of quippy answers to this question.
There is a 100% chance of darkness everyday, after all. But really, do
you need a flashlight? How about an even more pointed question: with
very good flashlight apps (I recommend the easy to use: Flashlight.) on smartphones do you still need a standalone flashlight?
I throw out my opinion let me say this: I am not sure there is any
reason to EDC a multi-cell light anymore. Lots and lots of makers,
custom and production, have ratcheted up performance on single cell
lights that the bulk and extra output/runtime on multi-cell lights does
not make up for the increased size and weight. In an EDC role, peeking
under tables for dropped keys in a restaurant, or carrying the trash to
the corner, there is no real practical reason for something that puts
out more than 200 lumens. And now we have a range of single cell lights
that can do that: the Incendio and the MiNi Quark 123
to name a few I have looked at here. More than 200 lumens in close
quarters is more likely to blind you than help you. Also, some of the
lights out there have insanely long runtimes (I just switched over to
battery #4 for my 18 month Muyshondt Aeon). So I think a good case can be made that you don't really need a multi-cell light for your average, run of the mill EDC use.
this still doesn't answer the question about whether you need a light
in general. I think the answer, even with the advent of the great
smartphone flashlight apps, is still yes. The flashlight app functions
sort of like a Photon keychain light. Most use the smartphone's built
in flash as a flashlight. Some of the older, less powerful versions,
use the smartphone's screen backlight as the light source. I prefer the
flash versions. It works well illuminating hallways on the way to a
bathroom in the middle of the night and it does a great job of finding
the door knob on dark evenings. But really, that is it. If you have to
go see what is outside in the middle of the night or you want to light
up an entire room with a ceiling bounce, the flashlight app is not going
to help you. Additionally they are battery guzzlers. In situations
where you need your light, say in a power outage, for example, it is
probably not that good to drain your cellphone's battery by using it as a
At this point, I cannot see why you'd
opt for only a smartphone flashlight app over, say, an Aeon or the MiNi
Quark 123. The size and weight of the light are negligible. Check out
how tiny the Aeon really is, next to a AA cell and a CR2 cell:
performance of either of these lights is quite impressive. And the
cost, well, for the MiNi, its is a few stops at Subway more than the
flashlight app. But it can meet 90-95% of your daily illumination
needs. A flashlight app can't do that. It is better than nothing, but
as LED tech becomes better and lights get smaller, I can't see a reason
to consolidate yet another gadget into your smartphone.
have one of these flashlight apps, and it works well, but it functions
only as a back up, only in a pinch. And if you can afford a smartphone,
I can't see how $40 for a MiNi Quark is going to break you.