SmartPhone vs. Dedicated GPS (are we there yet?)

Fowl Play

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[SIZE=medium]Hey guys… I’m taking a serious look at upgrading my current gps. So far, the Garmin Oregon is looking like the top contender for me, but before I drop the cash on one, I was wondering if anyone with one of the newer smartphones has tried a side by side comparison with a dedicated GPS. Right now, I have an old Iphone 4, which combined with a good gps app like MotionX is a nifty tool, but I would hardly consider it “trustworthy” enough to use in place of a dedicated unit. Seems like the waterproof galaxy S4 would do the trick though, if the gps receiver and battery life was up to par. Just wondering if the current smartphones have crossed the line to replacing dedicated gps units, or if we need to wait a few more years.[/SIZE]
 

2rocky

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Battery life is the limiting factor. Now a goal zero type solar charger may be the workaround if you can spare the time, and have strong enough sun....

I have heard of some good Gps apps but never tried them myself...
 

hank4elk

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My Garmin always gets signal and has great maps,good battery life. I use rechargables.
My cell phone stays off on hunts,emergency use only. Very limited signal where I am in NM,luckily have good cell and wifi at my ranch.
 

Fowl Play

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[SIZE=medium]What I do currently, is download (cache) the maps to my phone prior to going out… then when I lose cell reception I still have the maps and just go off the gps. So essentially it’s working as a standalone gps at that point… just has an awesome touchscreen. Problem with my current phone is the GPS chip really isn’t that great (accuracy leaves much to be desired), and as rocky said, constantly searching for phone signal kills the battery. Some of the android phones (like the galaxy S4) have removable batteries so you could bring spares, and I’m sure there’s a way to have a GPS only switch or something (kind of like airplane mode on your phone, but it disables everything but the GPS) which could save battery life when your out of cell range, then be turned back on in case of an emergency.[/SIZE]
 

sloth1833

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I have the Casio GZone 1 phone and I use the GPS essentials app. (The best GPS app I have found). It works just as well as the Garmin 62's IMO but you have the advantage of sat imagery if you are in cell range. Out of cell range the imagery is impossible to load. But you can use the same map making system that you are using on your iPhone with this app to mitigate that issue. GPS units, regardless if it is a phone or hand held "GPS", are only as accurate as the amount of satellites you are connected to. Even with 6 or more satellite connections you are hard pressed to get better than 5 meters of accuracy. This has to do with some high Tec shat that is impossible to put in a hand held unit without paying out the a$$. So long story short your phone is just as accurate as a hand held, it may take longer to connect to satellites but it is just as good.
 

ilovesprig

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I don't remember what Paul C. let me use a couple years back in NM (hand held). But it was really nice. The screen was huge compared to my Magellan hand held.

Last week Jacob and I used his GPS in his IPhone.......It was really nice with the app he had. I don't know how much juice he had left, but the battery did go fairly fast. Again, I don't think it was fully charged.......The screen was much better than my regular GPS........No problem with the signal for the most part.
 

paulc

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My buddy Tony uses his phone, but, I bet batter life is a problem. I leave my gps on all the time when hunting.

I bought a Garmin Oregon a couple months ago. Was disappointed in the screen size. I am more disappointed in my eye sight though. If you got good eyes is is perfect.
I gave the Oregon to Zach.
I will most likely buy a Garmin Montana when the prices go down a little.
 

hank4elk

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My Garmin and Magellan GPS's usually get 7-12 Sat. signals out here.
Have alot of folks around using there "hand-held-devices", and run short on power. They check e-mails,view videos,talk to others,and run out .They ask to borrow my GPS....NOT.

I hear you on the eyesight on little things( maps,print,etc) Paul, but have resolved to carrying reading glasses everywhere these days. So the Oregon screen is pretty damn good to me......guess if it gets worse I can take my little notebook to view maps....but I take topos with me anyway as back up and to scribble notes. I can still pick out game with bare eyes from a long ways.

I use a flip-phone still.......still trying to figure out what all the icons on touch screen do on the Garmin. But I can mark waypoints and track.....
 

ilovesprig

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Another thing that Jacob did was hook-up his phone/gps to an IPad.........The screen was obviously much larger.........Not something that would be probably taken into the woods. But, great back at the truck.
 

Fowl Play

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Was talking to some of the tech guys at work about this and sounds like the newer phones have pretty much the same GPS capabilities as a dedicated unit (GPS and GLONASS) but like everyone's been saying... it's the battery life that's the issue. Might have to pick up a new phone and give it a try myself... apparently the galaxy S5's coming out soon and comes standard waterproof (my current phone's on its last leg anyway). Figure battery life can be fixed relatively easily (case with extended battery, extra batteries, etc). Something else I saw which could be pretty cool for an ipad or something is this GPS 'puck' from garmin https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/oem/sensors-and-boards/glo-/prod109827.html . Hooks up via bluetooth and turns that ipad into a monster GPS... and like you were saying Steve, I bet that would be awesome to keep back in the truck to find areas you want to look at in more detail.
 

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A little late coming to the conversation, Kinda like to know how the new phone worked for you.

My experience has been sub optimal on the phone app vs. dedicated GPS. I was doing quite a few distance bicycle rides this last summer and would loose the phone after about 40 miles. My Garmin Oregon would last for two to three rides (40-60 miles each) on regular alkaline batteries. For now I am just running both and looking for a good backup battery for the idiot Phone.

BTW, there are a lot of Cell dead spots where I hunt and ride.
 

paulc

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I got the phone with trimblehunting stuff for my sons phone. It was looking pretty good, but, last tiem out in the trees it was taking a long time to load up the topo if you zoomed in or out.
 

hank4elk

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Got a free upgrade from RMEF and xmaps for the new phone ,LG. But it still eats batteries roaming. We'll see how useful it is ,if I can get signal to download he app........whatever that is......Hah.
 

nicapopolis

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I just added a mount on the boat for my phone. On the S5 I can run the aerial map and have the phone plugged in. It will help me in understanding tree lines and matching up the current water level to the lake maps, etc.

The benefit is that I have the power outlet right there.

I agree the battery life would be the issue out in the field.
 

Fowl Play

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Yah, battery life is still the issue. I have the new Iphone 6 plus and it works great as a GPS, but I can only get a day of use out of it before it needs to go back to the charger. This works for the type of hunting and fishing I'm doing locally, but if I was going to be doing a multi-day trip I'd get a dedicated GPS.
 

mjb

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I try to get away from technology when outdoors, so I use it to check location, mark the car or campsite but it's off most of the time
 
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