theHawkisHowling

GPS vs smartphone GPS

Is there anything a standalone GPS system can do that a good smartphone can't?
The family were thinking of getting my dad GPS and a new phone for his birthday, but I wondered if we should just get a really good phone instead.

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7 comments

JanSt / MOD  May. 5, 2014 at 22:17

I live in Deadend Ireland. My need for GPS is very close to zero. But on occasion Nokia's offline maps on this or that Nokia phone have saved my butt. You could get a discounted Lumia 925 (screen is comfy enough for in-car use) Or a huge 6in Lumia 1320. Maps are free, regulary updated and you can store them on the device. Search thus is very fast even without a data connection. Maybe WP is the wrong OS for you? I'm sure someone here who doesn't dislike Google quite as much as I do could tell you more about Google maps?!

What kind of smartphone were you thinking of? Mapping aside, what would your dad most likely do? Camera? Browsing? GTA? Social networking? Work? Documents? And: Budget?

Astec123  May. 5, 2014 at 23:29

You didn't say what sort of GPS you are after, is it for driving navigation or for orienteering type activities. Car, as above, Nokia maps has been excellent since it was made free and just gets better.

Also add Android into the mix, as with NavFree it makes a phone excellent for offline maps. I've used it quite a lot as it's better than Google maps in my opinion for navigation especially when you lose signal and the screen then goes funky (try driving down the A1 in places with 3). With Navfree it just keeps going using it's stored data and doesn't miss a beat.

I tried it on holiday, I set it up against a dedicated mid range Garmin that we rented in the USA it beat it by a mile, it was faster to find locations with address book searches, updated quicker when we went off track for stops along the journey and had more accurate junction data as some junctions the Garmin just completely flopped. Added to this the thing just gave better voice alerts for upcoming instructions and I'd opt for it any time. The only down side was it's limited take me to a shop/petrol station/restaurant feature and that you have to put all the data on the phone.

If your Dad uses it for walking based activities then a dedicated one is likely to be better as the battery life on GPS with screen on from a phone will take a massive hit.

rhinopaul  May. 5, 2014 at 23:33

You need to ask, for what purpose. If your father is out n about for hours walking the mountains then a dedicated GPS is best. Smarthphone battery life is usually poor at best and if you need to rely on a GPS and your phones battery dies then you could be in trouble. If its more for the odd ramble cross country then I would say the smarphone, there are plenty of free OS maps available to use offline.

BillyBuoy  May. 5, 2014 at 23:40

You need to ask, for what purpose. If your father is out n about for hours walking the mountains then a dedicated GPS is best. Smarthphone battery life is usually poor at best and if you need to rely on a GPS and your phones battery dies then you could be in trouble. If its more for the odd ramble cross country then I would say the smarphone, there are plenty of free OS maps available to use offline.

Take a spare battery ?

rhinopaul  May. 6, 2014 at 08:15

You need to ask, for what purpose. If your father is out n about for hours walking the mountains then a dedicated GPS is best. Smarthphone battery life is usually poor at best and if you need to rely on a GPS and your phones battery dies then you could be in trouble. If its more for the odd ramble cross country then I would say the smarphone, there are plenty of free OS maps available to use offline.

Take a spare battery ?


The last thing you want to be doing when using a GPS out hiking , possibly in unknown terrain is having a device that you have to swap batteries and wait for it to boot up again and then try reload the app and wait for the phone to pick up the satellites signal again especially if the weather has turned.

theHawkisHowling  May. 6, 2014 at 09:52

Sorry all! That'd be GPS for driving as opposed to walking, thanks!

rhinopaul  May. 6, 2014 at 10:25

In that case the smartphone option. Plenty of free satnav apps and paid ones such as Tom Tom or Co-Pilot which I use.The only downside is they are not 100% reliable and are prone to crashing on the odd occasion but do a good job for most of the time.I used Co_pilot through out Europe with no problems but it decided to crash when I got back to the UK. These apps are dependant on updates to fix glitches reported by us.

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