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GPS versus Smart phone

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by Andrew West, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. Hi guys
    After a question from a friend, I'm after input/suggestions of the pros and cons of a dedicated GPS versus using a smart phone and google maps.
    I have already mentioned that once the GPS is purchased there is no more ongoing costs (unless map updates are not included), where as a smart phone requires some provider plan and data costs could be an issue.
    The question was asked is there a difference between a dedicated motorcycle GPS and a everyday run of the mill car GPS, and because I have no experience with a motorcycle GPS all I could come up with is the cost.
    So any thoughts/recommendations or hands on experience would much appreciated.
    Cheers (y)

  2. Google maps is good until you have no phone reception.
    A GPS unit will be there regardless.

    The option I use is Navigon, on my phone. You download the maps to your SD card, so there's no data usage once you're out and about.
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  3. I prefer a dedicated GPS by a large margin over a smartphone.

    But there are some (pretty significant) disadvantages of a motorcycle GPS, the main ones being that you still can't get one with an internet connection for online searches or traffic and the high cost of the unit. I know traffic isn't a big problem on a bike as you can filter, but I'd sure as hell rather take a quieter backroad than spend my entire journey filtering down a motorway if I know in advance there is traffic.

    The advantage of a dedicated motorcycle GPS is they are quite rugged and they are fully waterproof. I've got a Garmin Zumo 660. It is wired to the bike and I have an intercom so I can listen to directions with helmet speakers and I also have speed camera / mobile camera blackspots with audible warnings.

    If you go smartphone, you NEED an offline map. Relying on an internet connection is a bad idea when there are many places where there is no 3/4G signal.

    Whichever you get, you should also get a powered mount.
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  4. I use my iphone with Navmii or CoPilot - both offline maps. Just look up your waypoints at home and save them to make life easier on the move.

    Biggest drawback is that YOUR PHONE SWITCHES OFF WHEN IT OVERHEATS. (Note the frustration in the caps!). Once had to stop at a servo and put my phone in the freezer to get it to give me directions again!
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  5. I have previously used offline maps on my phone. It was okay for short point to point trips, but found it not so great on longer runs where way points were needed. Plus, it chews battery life, so you need some means of charging on the go.

    I have just started using a dedicated GPS and find it a huge improvement. It's powered by the bike, so no battery issues. As creampuffcreampuff mentioned it provides speed warnings and fixed camera information too. Using a bluetooth connector, get all the turn information via audible commands. I also use a program on the computer to draw routes and then just transfer it to the GPS.

    It really is night and day the benefit of a dedicated GPS. If you are relying on your phone regularly for this function, you will get your use from the device to make it worth the outlay.

    There are lots of good options out there too for running power to you handle bars, not a difficult job to instal either. And, you could use this for either phone or a GPS.
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  6. The difference between dedicated motorcycle GPS and car ones apart from the waterproofing that has been previously mentioned is the ability to preload routes, the find windy routes options etc. These functions plus the waterproofing come at a price as you mentioned.

    A lot of the basic car ones won't have bluetooth so in helmet speakers is not an option.

    Most stand alone GPS will be better than phones in position finding, phones can suffer much more from dither which is moving your location around so that it thinks you are on side roads or on the opposite side of an intersection. This can screw up verbal directions and speed warnings and result in needless chatter from the voice module.
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  7. I've got Here Maps which comes free on Nokias but I believe it's been/being rolled out to Android and iOS. Free offline navigation but it'll do online searches as well if you've got data reception (eg when you want to search by name rather than address). Worldwide maps are free too if you're travelling overseas.

    I don't often need to use satnav on the bike but if that changes I'd lean towards a dedicated GPS. I figure if I have a crash, I'd rather my phone in an inside pocket of my jacket rather than mounted on the outside of the bike.
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  8. I'm with hyperspex....I use Nokia Here maps, off line with maps loaded.

    Frankly, I'll pretty well always have my phone with me, but the dedicated GPS's, of which I have two, are too much bother to use on my bikes.

    Most of the time, I'll just use the phone's GPS when I am lost in unknown territory, like the south of Sydney, at night.

    Also, quite a few of the "real" GPSs cost too much to update mapping.

    At one time in the past, I used to travel with a mobile phone, digital camera and GPS and the stuffing about to keep all three adequately charged, never mind where they are kept, all got too much......life is supposed to be simple fun, so I now just have my Nokia.....
    (OK, I admit to having a spare Nokia for O/S trips.)
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  9. I just have my old S4 which already has a crack in the screen if it falls off, plus it has a case on it anyway. As of yet, I have only used it with a GPS speedometer to test my speedo accuracy and one trip across Brisbane. To me, that's handy being able to use it for multiple things, rather than just maps. But when I did use it for the map, fairly sure the 3G signal was pumped into the tunnel (?), so it was better at exits than a normal GPS which loses it's way. If it rains, I can swap in my S5 for the water proofing!

    The other thing to consider with a GPS, is having to remember to take it off all the time, where I bet you wouldn't leave your bike without your phone very often!

    I'm still to look into a power supply for it, I'm tempted by a solar backpack though, so no wiring is needed and is easily transferable from bike to bike. Will find a thread on power supplies somewhere no doubt.
  10. This. I've had it happen too many times to rely on the phone on tour. Plus the GPS chip discharges the battery fiercely, sometimes faster than it can be recharged.
    Another big factor for me is that in sunlight, a phone screen is nowhere near bright enough for me to see clearly. Whereas a proper moto GPS is brighter enough.

    That said, I've found the Sygic phone GPS app is very good - excellent routing and warning alerts, and no data usage after the initial download. I'll use it (mainly listening to turn by turn instructions) for local trips around town.
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  11. I figure I carry a phone with me anyway, why double up by having a dedicated GPS? It feeds me voice instructions through my headset, and while it's at times frustrating not being able to look at it, I usually end up where I need to be. Mind you I do spend some time studying the route before I leave so I don't need to rely on it entirely. I also don't mind being able to keep my eyes on the road and not looking down thinking about turns etc. It does take some getting used to though, only having the voice directions.

    If I'm on a short ride my phone is in my pocket. If I'm on a long ride then it's in my tail bag attached to an external battery pack. My android seems to handle the battery better with the GPS on than any iPhone I had before it, though. I can ride for a good portion of the day on a single charge.

    Generally I'm riding in populated areas so just use Google Maps. If I'm venturing outside of that though, I use CoPilot - it's rare though. There's plenty of nav apps that will operate offline.
  12. I just stop for a break every now and then, figure out the route I need to take and then go for it. This may sound like I'm trying to blow my own trumpet here but I still find it really easy to navigate using a paper map; a skill that phone and GPS really does seem to erode. Most people my age (early 20s) and younger rely so much on GPS that they lose practice with landmark recognition! Sounds silly but I reckon it's true :p

    But to answer the OP; I use the phone in pocket navigation.
  13. Normally I keep the phone plugged in on a handlebar mount and listen to instructions only. I relied heavily on the gps first few months in Sydney,but now doing my best to only refer to it once I get lost.
  14. Thanks for the replies fellas some good information I can pass on.
  15. I have been using tomtom on my iPhone for years and it for me it works fine.
    I bought a couple of bits to make my helmet Bluetooth comparable ($25) and it works fine and I can hear directions till I get over 100kms then the wind sort of drowns stuff out but if your on the free way you slack sort of hear stuff so you sort of know when to turn off.
    That's my 2c worth of rambling
  16. Sh1t I type really crappy..........
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  17. I've been using this gps with DesNav installed with good success. Its not the flashiest of interfaces however its very accurate and comes with bluetooth and a 3.5mm jack. This ones been drenched a few times and has lived.


    The difference between a motorcycle and consumer gps is about $600, other than that your get old hardware and waterproofing.
    Yay for being a select market.
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  18. What's a

    Is that like an

    I think these things used to exist?
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  19. They are fossils and relics of the old world...when dinosaurs walked the earth and fuel was under a $1.
  20. I remember when my Dad filled the car and winged about fuel being $0.27c

    I also remember filling my own car at under $1.....

    Houses cost too much.
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