iPhone + Navigon vs a real gps

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by doctor_big, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. doctor_big

    doctor_big It hurts when I fall down

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    Hey all

    Can anyone give me the pros and cons of using my iPhone and Navigon for motorcycle duty? Will the iPhone's gps work outside of cell reception?

    Thanks
    Jason
    #1
  2. fierostetz

    fierostetz Been here awhile

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    it works, but whenever I try to use it on my bike the phone overheats after an hour or so (in sunny CA). I opted to just buy a nuvi 500
    #2
  3. M.Mars

    M.Mars híppos leukós

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    The problem is that iPhone doesn't have downloadable maps, so that when you find yourself outside of 3G coverage on at&t ( which is fairly often i know) you are out of luck. The maps wont load and you will loose your position. I tried that option before but I think the best option is still to get a dedicated gps. Also there are option with Android phones, since google maps offers voice guidance for free and with Nokia phones they also offer Ovi maps (Navtaq) for free (best cellphone navigation in my opinion) but you will run into problems because all phones have a small gps chip and relay heavily on A-Gps.
    my small two cents.
    #3
  4. socalmoe

    socalmoe Been here awhile

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    Just go with a "real GPS" every GPS app I tried locked up the phone after a few minutes, no app has true GPS capabilities such as turn by turn. The only phone that works well is the Droid.
    #4
  5. Llamaha

    Llamaha Been here awhile

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    I do this with Trekbuddy using offline Google maps on my Sony Ericsson when I want to see how far away from my destination I am.
    #5
  6. doctor_big

    doctor_big It hurts when I fall down

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    Have you tried Navigon? I thought it did true turn by turn. What iPhone do you have?

    Jason
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  7. Nick 187

    Nick 187 Been here awhile

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    #7
  8. lhendrik

    lhendrik Truffle Rustler

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    This is absolutely wrong. iPhone has apps which use downloadable maps, Navigon is one, Tom Tom another. No 3G coverage needed. How long is this crap going to be repeated. If you don't know , don't make it up. Sorry for rant, but this has been available for a LONG time.
    #8
  9. lhendrik

    lhendrik Truffle Rustler

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    I recently used my iPhone as a GPS with Navigon (paid $49.00 for the app with maps of NA) while my Zumo was being refurbished, with a handlebar RAM mount. Works great. With it's ability to find points of interest using Google (when there is 3G or WiFi coverage) its capabilities even exceed those of the Zumo. Even without Google available there is a limited POI database. There is real time traffic data available for an extra charge. I don't have it.

    The screen is small, but bright. It is only visible when mounted on handlebars near me, not up front and high where I like my GPS for road visibility.

    I have not had any problem with keeping the battery charged using 12V bike power thru a car charger in my tank bag. It only overheated once when I put the phone under my tank bag clear plastic map holder on a very sunny day. Mounted in the RAM mount on handlebars no problem with heat.

    By itself it is not waterproof, or very bulletproof, so I wouldn't want to leave it handing out there unprotected for long, as it costs up the wazzoo.

    I used it to route and could easily hear route commands with a wired headphone set, and with bluetooth connection. I use the Camos BTS 200 bluetooth headsets, which can connect to my Zumo, my iPhone or both. I also have wired earplug speakers, but I like the Bluetooth better.

    As a bonus I had thousands of MP3's for almost unlimited music, and could easily review my emails, texts and voicemails when stopped.

    I also have a number of weather apps so I could see live radar maps and avoid storms. Oh, I was also able to get and make phone calls!

    I have my Zumo back, and use it as primary GPS, but I will retain the iPhone (iPhone 4) as a backup and for supplemental info.

    Opinion: It seems to me that Garmin will have to step up their units capabilities to match what these smartphone units can do if they are to stay competitive, as I wouldn't pay $800 for a Zumo 665 when I can duplicate and exceed with a phone as soon as a good waterproof/bombproof case comes to market.
    #9
  10. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    I don't blame you for the rant, How many times is someone who doesn't have a clue what he's talking about going to pipe in with same ignorant crap about smart phones not having downloadable maps.
    #10
  11. John Smallberries

    John Smallberries Long timer

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    I've used several iPhone nav apps:
    NavMi: $4 3G-downloaded-on-the-fly maps for Germany and Luxembourg. The Germans have great 3G, so it worked great AND had voice turn-by-turn.
    Magellan Roadmate: $79 fully onboard US maps. No 3G needed. Uses up 3Gigs of space, but works very well. Good turn-by-turn and voice.
    Motion-X Drive: another 3G-downloaded nav app for a few bucks. works fine.
    skobbler: $5 app that gives you onboard maps of Europe. I'll try this on my next trip.

    With regard to heat and battery drain - these are solvable problems. Just do some digging on other threads.

    My remaining problem with iPhone nav remains the small screen and glare in bright sunlight. Other than that - I'm set. I connect to in-ear headphones through my Cardo Scala G4 and have phone, music, nav all in one box - all working together. I'm saving my Zumo money for some massive aux lights!
    #11
  12. doctor_big

    doctor_big It hurts when I fall down

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    I guess there's no way to load in to Navigon a route from an external source?
    #12
  13. rmcc

    rmcc Adventurer

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    Not currently for the iPhone Navigon application but you can for dedicated Navigon GPS devices from Google Maps

    I just completed a 5712 mile trip going across the country and back spanning a length of 20 days and I used my Iphone4 as the sole source of navigation while on the road. I used a touratech iphone mount on my crossbar and charged the Iphone4 via my powerlet.

    The four navigation programs I used with intent to compare:

    Google Maps (the one that comes on the phone)
    MotionX GPS
    MotionX DRIVE
    Navigon

    Each one of these programs has it's own unique feature set that lends itself best to particular situations so it all depends on what you plan to do. I had no particular plan other then to wander about the country seeing friends and family in no particular order or time frame. There were some capabilities that did not quite explore to the full extent on the Motion-X Gps program but I will elaborate on that further later.

    Google Maps

    Pros:
    Easy to use
    Excellent Search for Businesses, Parks, Gas, POI's in general
    Easy to play with different routes in regards to times/distances during planning phase
    Included with phone and no additional fee's for use other then data consumption


    Cons:
    Hard to use on bike unless you remove a glove (or cut some finger holes)
    No custom routing options that route you away from toll roads, highways, etc
    No map storage for extended remote area use (however you can work with what it DOES store on the phone in a pinch)
    No automatic turn-by-turn guidance or rerouting

    Summary of Google Maps

    If you have an internet connection of any kind and you are looking to put a route together or just plain look at the ROAD options to get you from A to B then this native iPhone application is still the best. It's a slick user interface we iPhone users are all familiar with, it's quick, efficient, and allows the user to gain the fastest "birds-eye" view of the road options in the area to ride.


    MotionX GPS

    Pros:
    Map Download Capable (only MotionX Terrain, MotionX Road and NOAA for copyright reasons)
    Can Cache up to 250 MB of map data... which is quite a bit (including Google, Bing Maps)
    Highly Capable in regards to tracking average, current, max speed, elevation gain/loss, strait line distance to waypoint/destination
    More control over map zoom making minor on bike adjustments much easier
    Multitasking capable so it can record average speed, distance traveled etc while using other applications (or nav programs!)
    Terrain Maps are excellent in for contour analysis and understanding the area of potential exploration
    Ability to take photos and share them online with a Waypoint Tag so people can follow along on twitter or facebook
    Integrated Ipod controls so you can Nav and listen to music if you have an audio capability via earphones, autocom, scala and etc.
    Ability to Save tracks and Upload waypoints from other Users (this is something that I have yet to use but will for my moab trip)
    Option to use many different maps to look at a given piece of land (google,bing,road/satellite/hybrid view MotionX road/terrain)

    Cons:
    No custom routing options that route you away from toll roads, highways, etc
    No automatic turn-by-turn guidance or rerouting
    MotionX road maps are not very nice to use/look at however you will likely use Google or Bing for road trips and you will have data

    Summary of MotionX GPS

    A highly capable program that I still have some exploring to do with the capabilities of it mainly the uploading of other peoples tracks/waypoints and how that whole deal works in general on this program. It is quite easy to create, manage and track to your own created waypoints with MotionX GPS. If a person wants to have a GPS program (for the iPhone) that is suited towards navigating the back country OR having a birds-eye view of what is around them and is more looking for ANY road that looks interesting to turn down that keeps them going in the general direction of the destination... This application is well suited for that task. If you are looking to get turn by turn through an urban jungle... this will not be optimal and more then likely you will have to pull over and check the map to see what best way to go.

    MotionX GPS Drive

    Pros:
    Cheap in comparison to other turn-by-turn navigation programs
    Voice Guided Turn by Turn Directions with Live Traffic Avoidance
    Ability to Store up to 2GB of map data on device (customizable)
    Intuitive user interface with easy to use search for POI
    More friendly user interface for zooming on map while on the bike

    Cons:
    After 30 day trial is up the auto turn by turn guidance, rerouting and voice must be bought for $19.99 (1 year at a time)
    Upcoming Streets dont always completely scroll on the main screen
    If you are in a new and no data coverage area and you decide you use the nav for the first time in the middle of your trip you are S.O.L
    Bing hybrid maps and Motion X terrain Maps have good detail compared to Navigon
    For a lack of better words... it did some "dumb stuff" a couple times that made me lose faith
    The vibes on my bike would constantly have it rotating between landscape and portrait mode at certain RPMs**
    Voice Guidance did not come through my Scala Q2 headset unless I was actually on the phone with somebody

    Summary of MotionX GPS drive

    I bought this after purchasing the Navigon primarily so I had something to compare GPS apps with. It's kinda my deal to try multiple things out and see individual strengths and weaknesses. The only thing I really like about this application is the map detail is better that that of the Navigon. The reason being is that is downloads as you go so it can afford to carry much more details maps when it has data on tap all the time. The obvious downside is that you need to plan your trip while you have data and allow the MotionX application to download map data for your route ahead of time. If it's lengthy trip then this may not be a realistic or time effective for planning and then going quickly. This application will get you there for sure but it was not to my liking for this trip and more of a novelty item that I would play with from time to time once it let me down on a couple occasions that are not interesting enough to explain (this post is long enough already right??)

    Navigon

    Pros:
    Elegant and simple user interface
    Custom routing options are excellent
    Turn-by-turn direction as well as on screen prompts for what lane to be in are exceptional! (great when I was in Chicago and N. VA)
    No data needed as maps are on the device (1.X gigs or so)
    Upon entering your destination it will give you several route options that show you distance and times
    Integrated ipod controls work well
    Could program in speeds and it would let you know if you were over the posted speed limit in that area (handy for recovering speed demons)
    Strait forward ETA to destination that was accurate and updated accordingly

    Cons:
    Expensive in comparison to other apps
    Traffic guidance and 3d view are extra ($19.99 and $9.99) but a one time fee
    Entering addresses to navigate to is not the most intuitive
    Maps are devoid of detail to save space on phone
    Zooming in/out with one finger is not possible (must remove glove or cut holes)
    The vibes on my bike would constantly have it rotating between landscape and portrait mode at certain RPMs**

    Summary of Navigon

    The GPS application became my "go-to" application when I started to get into heavily populated areas where frequent turns and complex highway systems were the norm. Also... it just plain worked and I like how it gave me different options on how to get to my destination. It did make me feel "tunneled-in" at times... I like to see the big picture of what is around me and this was often an arrow, on a orange line with grey around me and I KNEW there was more interesting stuff around me... However this also brings up (IMO) it's major weakness: upon showing me the different options for my route the map that it shows your route on is clunky to navigate... devoid of detail or information and is generally a let down for further exploring. I would actually switch to MotionX GPS or Google Maps and have a more detailed look at what was around the route the Navigon just created for me to make sure I was not missing out on anything cool or just to gain better situational awareness.


    Grand Summary

    When it came down to it I used MotionX GPS while I was out on the open road to track my average speed and to have the google maps up (within the MotionX application) so I could see what state parks were around me and anything else of note. This was great to just have up and wander in a general direction as it would keep me pointed in the right direction and let me know how far away I was from my ultimate destination. Also if I was to get off my bike I would have the Topo/Terrain maps to hike around with and pick a good spot to camp, go up the mountain hill etc. The Navigon application would be used if I was in unfamiliar and densely populated territory where missing an exit would cause me serious grief (i.e. I dont want to be in that city any longer then I have to) or if I had to get some where and time was an issue and I did not really care to see what was on the map all around me. Oh.. one more thing.. if I was stopped at a place and just wanted to look for food or something specific I would just use the native Google Maps program as it was the fastest and easiest to use and would also give me walking directions or even public transpo (which I have used here in salt lake city and it is truly amazing and actually makes me use public transpo more often)

    Any other questions related to this post let me know and I will gladly go into further detail.

    Cheers:dutch
    [​IMG]
    P.S. this fuel stop roll up was from a application called "Road Trip"
    #13
  14. intothenew

    intothenew Briar Patch Navigator

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    Fantastic write up rmcc.

    To the OP, I can't answer your question directly, but everything you have heard is true. It will over heat if you don't take some care, it will not load maps if you don't have the right app etc. etc. Everything on the bright side is true also. If I had to choose between the two I think it would be the phone. It's a Swiss Army Knife as rmcc so elegantly explained. YOU DON'T HAVE TO RELY ON JUST ONE APP. I ran this get up on the center third of the TAT two months ago.

    [​IMG]

    I'm not ready to leave the GPS at home, but I don't figure that time is far off. The phone served as a SPOT substitute also.
    #14
  15. craftycoder

    craftycoder Motobrain PDU

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    I didn't realize the phones were that good yet. No reception issues or anything? That is pretty cool. It won't be too long before they replace the GPS unit all together I guess.
    #15
  16. intothenew

    intothenew Briar Patch Navigator

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    No GPS reception issues, so if you carry the right maps on board you can always nav with it. Cell service, of course, is another issue. Using it as a SPOT sender it must have cell, but that will run in the background and auto send when you have service.

    Overlayed track logs of that center run of the TAT showed no discernible difference between the 60CSx and the iPhone. Spot transfers, it looks like it got about 90% of the route.
    #16
  17. craftycoder

    craftycoder Motobrain PDU

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    I would be all over this solution if I could load my Garmin maps on the device (there are just so many good, free maps out there to leave behind). If I ever get a Droid phone, I will write the software to load Garmin maps on to it. I'm ornery when it comes to iPhones (like someone I know who is ornery when it comes to limiting project scope :wink:).

    Thanks for the info. It seems a smart phone and weather resistant trail style GPS is more than enough for the job at hand.
    #17
  18. M.Mars

    M.Mars híppos leukós

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    Well of course you can throw money at a problem. I was referring to the standard maps found on the iPhone (Google maps). The fact of the matter is that they are dependent on the internet connection. I'm a strong believer that if I pay 500 or 600 bucks for a phone I shouldn't spend any more money on it to perform basic functionality that others do for free.

    Also what happens to your $60 maps if you make your way to Mexico or further down south ... you have to keep buying more maps ?
    #18
  19. intothenew

    intothenew Briar Patch Navigator

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    The beauty, albeit limited in all of this, is the gpx file. There are iPhone apps that will accept that cross platform format. I would assume that the other phones do likewise. Is there a crafty way to cross platform maps? I mean that in both the figurative and literal sense by the way. That is the demon that parts the water, to share on any platform takes you back to the gpx, or does it?

    I'm working on a much less ornery post in that ornery thread as we speak. In scale, I can get more on the phone than I can either of my Garmin GPSs via gpx. But, it is laborious to do. Some of the other GPS units will take an incredible amount more. Lowest common denominator? That is a point that I always keep in mind.

    Have a look in a few. I promise not to take a drink of the hard stuff, today.
    #19
  20. rallybug

    rallybug Local Yokel

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    Even with the rotation lock on?
    #20