Phone vs Dedicated GPS

Points for the phone (by which I mean, Google Maps on iPhone):

  • It's always up-to-date and tends to have better directions
  • The interface is nicer
  • It's "free"
  • Linked to Google so it knows my recent map searches and such

Points for the GPS:

  • The mount is nice (magnetic attachment, suction cups on window). Never found a good mount for the phone
  • A dedicated device means just leaving it there most of the time, not constantly attaching and detaching it as I found myself doing with the phone (because I need my phone for all kinds of stuff).
  • Works without internet
  • The screen is a bit bigger
  • It's always plugged in

The GPS wins for me so far.



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One response to “Phone vs Dedicated GPS”

  1. dj says:

    As the curator of I can let you in on a little secret that pretty much all serious offroaders know. “A GPS is to an iPhone as a salsa is to a sauce made in New York City!”

    We all realize that the first geolocation on phones was done by tracking the individual in relation to the known locations of cell towers. Apple and Advertisers immediately recognized the $$ potential and with the OJ Simpson (and other) cases the official “homeland security” types recognized the value in pressing manufacturers to make a ‘more accurate, always-on’ tracker “mandatory” and without much fanfare. There was a bit of a stink when many realized what was happening and manufacturers (at least on the surface) made settings available to “turn off” geolocation on phones. [The homeland-security types however have the ability to over-ride that]

    The tracking unit in the cell phone however, hasn’t ever gotten that much more accurate – even now that satellites are used instead of cell towers. We’ve compared tracks made simultaneously with phones and GPS units and there really isn’t a comparison for actual off road uses in accuracy or dependability.

    I guess, like in most things, it depends on what you need it for. The occasional “where am I” in a city or the “let’s find that trail back home” at dusk in the mountains. Do we want ‘everyone’ to see where we are all the time, targeted advertising, and popups for close-by bars whether we’re thirsty or not — or do we want accuracy, privacy and dependability. I.e. do we want the $32-a-four-pack-for-replacement-blades shaver or the $5 per 10-pack single-blade safety razor (do we really need a bank of 5 blades to get a good shave?)

    [Most of us consider geolocation in a phone pretty much just a toy and a gimmick. When GPS location is ‘mission critical’ an off-the-rack phone isn’t even a consideration.]

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