Cell phone "GPS"

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by Stromski, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. Stromski

    Stromski Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    386
    Location:
    The Virginias
    A real GPS is off the table, this year (synchronized suicides of washer and dryer in the first week of December snatched the Zumo out of Santa's bag).


    I have noticed that most new cell phones are described as "GPS capable". I am eligible for a new phone from Sprint, and am out of contract, so I could change services, if I want. I know that phone screens are smaller than those on GPS units and that the buttons are the same as for phone functions, so they would not be as user friendly.

    Is a GPS capable phone a real GPS unit, or does it triangulate position from cell phone towers? I took this question to a Sprint store and a Sprint kiosk (in the same mall :huh) and got two unsatisfactory answers. One was "the GPS locator works everywhere, but the functionality only works on the Sprint network" and the other was "I am almost sure it works everywhere".

    So, if I am getting a new phone anyway, is the GPS service worth the monthly fee? I plan on using it as an occasional reference and not a full-time navigation tool. I also tend to ride in an area not served by any cell carrier.
    #1
  2. Bayou Boy

    Bayou Boy Long timer

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    Sep 19, 2002
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Houma, LA
    I've never used a cellphone GPS but I wouldn't think it would be of any use while moving. If you are going to have to stop to use it, you might as well just pull out a map.


    This place has a lot of stuff under $200. Just save for a few months and get a real GPS.

    http://tvnav.com/reman.htm

    The eMap has maps for $125 and the Legend C has maps and autoroutes for $150.
    You can't beat that.
    #2
  3. wolfhead1

    wolfhead1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    18
    I had nextels for a while.Some areas were great.Mine was blue tooth capable You could mount it on bars and see it.$10 moonth plus $5 month data pak.Give it a try.My new truck has Onstar for 1yr free.I am very happy with Onstar cept when they are watching me.
    #3
  4. Bayou Boy

    Bayou Boy Long timer

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    Location:
    Houma, LA

    For $15/month you could pay for the units I posted above in a year and have money left over for a RAM mount.
    #4
  5. Twohondas

    Twohondas Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
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    Location:
    San Diego
    I don't recommend the GPS phone as the primary Bike Navigation on tour. But you can always give it a try for a month - most plans have a trial period.

    I used Razr/Verizon on my Fall 2006 AZ VFR tour
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=189543&highlight=Hannagan


    [​IMG]

    Here were my GPS phone lessons learned from my AZ tour:

    My GPS phone did not cut it. I brought my headset but regrettably did not have the correct adapter to plug into my 2.5mm jack on the Razr. But no matter when I got home I found an adapter and tried it out. The phone did not have enough volume/umph to drive my earphones/speakers while I was on the move. Voice directions are mandatory for me. I also hooked up the phone to my Wing and I was more successful as the Wing has VC through the installed sound system. Could enjoy the MP3 player too.

    The good things – only $10 a month. You can turn it on when you need it. It does work.

    Now the compromises - In order for the system to work effectively you have to be in a cell zone. That is great if you are on the freeway but out in the sticks where I like to go, this is problematic. Maps are downloaded via the cell feature as there is not enough memory etc to have a full map set and places to see feature built in. THIS costs you minutes as well! Also I can barely operate the phone with my bare hands let alone with gloves. As a result, I find that controlling the phone when in motorcycle garb is nearly impossible even when stopped. Because of the phone size, you could never use the screen to navigate when on the move. Too dangerous!

    Better to go with a dedicated GPS system. I like the Zumo. My lessons learned with the Zumo on VFRD.
    #5
  6. Stromski

    Stromski Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    386
    Location:
    The Virginias
    Thanks, all.

    I figured they wouldn't be as good as the real deal. If my next phone happens to have it, I might do a trial period, but I won't rely on it.

    Most places will cell coverage tend to have nicities like proper street signs, so I wouldn't have much need for it. What I would want to know is if that dirt track off of the gravel road actually goes anywhere, or if it will lead to yet another quick U turn in someone's driveway, attended by a pack of dogs.

    It doesn't sound like the cell services would tell me that.
    #6
  7. HMR

    HMR Alps & Dirt Roads

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Oddometer:
    134
    Location:
    Vitemölla, Österlen, Sweden
    I've been using Garmin Mobile XT on a Nokia N95 for some time now. I'm utterly surprised and amazed by its performance!

    I have a Garmin Nüvi 200 for our cars and a Garmin 278 for my bikes. I've tested Zumo and 60Cx so I do have someting to compare with.

    OK, the Nokia is not rugged and won't last long on my offroad bike. But maybe in a plastic bag taped on the tank of my tourer? The buttons are impossible to operate with gloves and it often takes very long for the Nokia to lock on the satelites.

    What surprices me is how well MobileXT performs handheld (60Cx type) and in te car (Nüvi type). The map on the Nokia screen is extremely crisp and is much more detailed compared with Nüvi or Zümo and much easier to read than the 60CX.

    It works just as any Garmin. No expensive telecom activity.

    The 278 is superior when it comes to give you a good overview of the surroundings by showing a detailed map. But the Nokia comes second. Far better than both the Nüvi and the Zümo.

    To MobileXT you can uppload waypoints, routes and tracks. You can customize the map details, waypoint visibility, label sizes, etc. You can't do any of this with the Nüvi!

    The Nüvi and the Zümo can only show me when to turn. The N95, and the 278, also shows me where I am.

    My current usage demonstrates clearly my opinion:

    - The Nüvi sits permanently in my wife's car. "Easy to use."

    - The 278 I use on my bikes. "In rainstorm & sandstorm. In the deep forest & in the big city"

    - The Nokia N95 with MobileXT I use in my car, on the city walk, when I go on vacation to Mallorca, etc, etc. "Superb readability and always with me"
    #7