adventure travel using t-mobile/smartphone?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by evermore, May 18, 2014.

  1. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    Since T-mobile offers unlimited international data (at 2G speed but still), has anyone gone with the t-mobile plan/smartphone over a dedicated GPS for traveling across multiple countries?
    #1
  2. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    You know cellular signal and data isn't needed for mapping operations or navigation, right ?

    If you were planning on making a bunch of phone calls and sending kick ass pictures of your exploits, yes, you'll want data or to find a WiFi location to leach.
    #2
  3. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    For dedicated navigation units or specialized nav software for smartphone, sure, no data connection is necessary but for Google Maps it is as I would not rely on its offline mode. Having a smartphone with a data plan that works everywhere is an intriguing set of capabilities:

    Pros:
    - built in navigation, no need to buy separate navigation unit
    - ability to make calls and use internet anywhere in the world without having to look for wifi or go through the hassle of buying a SIM card in each country.
    - no need to buy a SPOT unit (if you are so inclined)
    - ability to do short posts of blog entries and photos etc. on the fly (without waiting for the next time you are in range of wifi).

    Cons:
    - $50 a month...

    That seems worth it to me so I wonder if anyone has tried this and has some experience with it...
    #3
  4. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    T-mobile doesn't even connect a few miles from my house.
    You expect to be able to rely on the data connection from country to country?
    #4
  5. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    Look past Google maps, the world awaits.
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  6. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    Since T-mobile wont administer those services but has contracts with the local providers, yes! =)
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  7. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    Well, it's free and and gets me from A to B. I did my trip from California to Patagonia using a Garmin Nuvi 500 and maps from OSM which worked (despite the occasional error in the map data) but eliminating another device to charge would be worthwhile.

    What is the killer feature that Google Maps lacks?
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  8. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    A whole bunch:
    It navigates and searches very well, until the cellular signal drops...

    After that, it doesn't record tracks, allow for offline navigation, tracking, waypoints, route planning, sharing of waypoints, maps are very limited, and a bunch more fun features.


    In not knocking your setup at all, but there is so much more that offline applications can do for you.
    #8
  9. steveWFL

    steveWFL Long timer

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    [​IMG]
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  10. NateLePain

    NateLePain Long timer

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    Being a CBOA, I used Tmobile prepaid for 5+ years, until I couldn't stand it any longer. The data coverage is abysmal, once you're off a Tmobile tower. Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma... forget about any reliable coverage on the freeway, city streets and out in the woods. It just sucks...

    nlp
    #10
  11. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    well Google Maps does have an offline feature and your phone tracks your location history. Preloading waypoints might be something something I might miss...

    One remedy is to load a separate navigation map application as a backup.

    Also, when I used the Garmin, the software for Mac OS was absolutely atrocious..
    #11
  12. pizzaboy

    pizzaboy retiring tomorrow

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    I would not rely on Tmobile connection. I have it, once contract is over I'm gone.
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  13. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    That is the correct answer. Do not rely on online only, or you will be caught without anything.

    While I use Googles online tracks, I would not rely on that either when I am keeping a detailed log of where I am.
    #13
  14. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    I've removed Google maps, nav, etc and the only thing i miss is.... I forget. :thumbup:

    I can remember finding lots of bugs with Google maps and their offline cache, like directions being repeated for the same road over and over... Missing tiles, corrupt data bases, etc

    I agree about the Garmin software on Mac os, it's terrible. My friends that drink the gman koolaid say it's better on the Mac too. Id just rather not.
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  15. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    My trip was 4 years ago so maybe the Garmin software has improved but I am hoping to simplify things... adding a DSLR and maybe a gopro but eliminate a dedicated GPS... :hmmmmm
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  16. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    The purists are going to flame me....


    But some of the cellphone cameras are getting prettty good: lots of megapixels in the single shooter, and 1080p for video that actuallu looks better than gopro, since its flat.
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  17. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    Taking a DSLR is a conscious decision and I agree, a smartphone could be sufficient. I just want to take the DSLR next time for those 10% of shots a small point&shoot or a good cell phone camera can't do, i.e. zoom shots and nice bokeh effects.

    As for using the smart phone as a gopro, it'll be hard to use the phone mounted both as a GPS and gopro-like video camera at the same time. 5 years from now, some sort of version or competitor of Google Glass would be a great substitute :)
    #17
  18. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    I modified my RAM smartphone mount to let me take videos while under way. It worked well once or twice, but most of the time, vibration is an issue.
    #18
  19. mattv

    mattv n00b

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    To the OP...
    I have a tmobile 5gb plan on a nokia 521 windows phone. When im not getting a 4g signal to my phone (phone indicates 2g) the only data that works is sms messaging This is true in the US and Europe. I just returned from Paris and other regions of France, and the UK. I never saw 4g and was only able to send receive sms. No web. I purchased a lycamobile (european provider) sim for the phone in London, but was never successful in configuring the apn info etc to get the phone doing data right. I was dissapointed. I recommend that you research for known working smartphone / provider combo prior to your departure, or else, just walk straight into an Orange retail location and prepare to drop some Euros in the shop.
    #19
  20. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the update. The free international data is capped at 2G so that's not surprising, that it doesn't actually work for web makes it useless though. I guess I am hoping this is at least partially related to your nokia phone. Regardless, expecting T-mobile to work in every country won't fly so having some sort of backup (local sims) is necessary.
    #20