Not all Smartphones are created equal...

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by chrisjk, Jul 21, 2017.

  1. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    I blame @ohgood.

    Not so long ago, I was a semi happy Garmin user who had clocked up thousands of miles over many years using different models of their infernal devices from early handhelds to the Nav V and Zumo 590. I had earnt all the badges (expert Basecamp user, 3rd party map user etc. tracks and routes and of course, understanding why hardly anyone in a party ever has the same route).

    I was only semi happy because although I always got where I was going, it was obvious that Garmin cared not a hoot for motorcyclists and didn't understand our needs nor why we wouldn't want overpriced outdated devices running really crappy software. Finally, thanks to @ohgood's evangelism I saw the light and decided to try a smartphone. I already had an iPhone but quickly came to realise that the Android platform offered navigation apps more suited to my needs (basically a mix of navigating to the nearest Starbucks but also to places that didn't seem to have seen a human in the last few hundred years). Thus began my odyssey with Android phones. I now have 5 of the things and while I won't bore you with the ins and outs of exactly how this comes about, I thought it worth reporting on a couple of things.

    Firstly, there is a difference in the quality of the GPS performance these things have which becomes obvious in a variety of ways (eg, time of position acquisition, accuracy, etc.) One thing that came to annoy me about the Nomu S10 I sang the praises of here not too long ago was that it seemed to lose itself rather frequently showing me navigating somewhere not on a road but displaced a few hundred yards,for example. Recorded tracks also often displayed the characteristics of a drunken spider at work, especially if I stopped somewhere for a while. To compensate for this problem I actually bought another Garmin device - a GLO bluetooth receiver- which paired to the phone and records much much better tracks (basically it means the phone's GPS is simply unused).

    The image below shows the difference in recorded tracks for four Android devices and my iPhone from my stroll this morning to pick up the newspaper. All devices using their native GPS. Android devices set to use GPS only for location. Tracks recorded using the same app (Ultra GPS logger) except on the iPhone.

    Phones1.jpg

    The AGM A8 is the stand out winner and unfortunately, the Nomu S10 is clearly the worst. The MotoG is very good and surprisingly, the DooGee (a cheap and nasty, very un-rugged phone which I bought as my first android device as an experiment) does quite well.

    The second thing I think worth mentioning is that I have two Nomu S10s, as the first picked up some virus I was unable to eradicate and I was also unable to root the phone to get rid of a system app which antivirus software disliked and was possibly the entry vector for the virus I got. I am not sure how the phone became infected to be honest but I also suspect the ad-supported app I used for linking the Garmin GLO to the phone. In any case, it bothered me enough that I bought the AGM which has enabled me to do without the GLO. The AGM is not quite as bright as the Nomu (which has a terrific screen) but it is good enough and its battery is smaller - 4050 mAh vs 5000 mAh but I can live with that too. Both Nomu and AGM are rugged phones but the AGM is really built like a tank and the covers for charging socket, earbuds etc look to be seriously waterproof. It is also Android 7 vs 6 for the Nomu.

    The MotoG is a nice little phone and I have become so fond of it that I mostly carry it as a pocket phone these days. It works fine as a satnav for the bike and is water resistant but its smaller battery means that it needs charging on the go.
    #1
  2. DaMonk45

    DaMonk45 I B Da Monk

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    Nice write up chris
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  3. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    Did both S10s display the same poor GPS?
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  4. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    'fraid so - practically identical in terms of magnitude random excursions from the route.:(
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  5. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    Today I have been testing the Nomu with an app that seems to correct the shaky GPS behaviour I have seen hitherto. I wish I had discovered it earlier - it might have saved me the cost of a GLO and possibly a phone!

    The app in question is this one https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.android.gpstest Using it in parallel with Locus (and the Ultra GPS logger with which I recorded my track) results in a very clean track - comparable to the AGM A8.

    All these apps call on the GPS and it's possible, even probable I guess, that battery life will be adversely affected. However, my test route was too short to check this.

    The Android Play store is replete with all manner of GPS related apps, many of which claim to reset AGPS, and do all manner of wonderful things. Alas many, perhaps most of these, don't perform as promised and some are just garbage and the reviews seem frequently to be fraudulent and/or misleading. I have tried lots of these and been disappointed but the app I linked to actually works very well for me. Moreover it is free and ad-free too.

    If you go to look at it, note that it has very nearly the same name as another GPS app and the other didn't help me, so I suggest you use the link above to find it rather than its name.
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  6. RayAlazzurra

    RayAlazzurra Stuck in the Eighties

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    All Android phones are not created equal. Has anyone looked at the BLU Tank phones? The new Tank Xtreme just came out and looks like a contender. I have been using an older BLU phone (3G, don't know the model) with mixed results. GPS works on it, but google maps, Osmand, and Locus all crash on it at random times. One thing to watch out for is the usable frequency bands on the phone. Of course this does not matter a bit if you never put a Sim card in the device and use it for GPS and Wifi only. I considered the AGM rugged phone, and the Ulefone armor. It appears that neither of these would work on the LTE band at my house. I think the Kyocera Duraforce will work, and perhaps the new BLU Tank. The other problem with reviewing these devices is that the carrier matters for phone and data performance, so tow owners of the same model phone will have very different experiences in South Dakota if one is using Sprint, and the other uses AT&T. I'd like to carry just one rugged device on bike trips that would serve as GPS, phone, and computer. I don't trust any of them that much yet, so I'm resigned to carrying two for now.
    #6
  7. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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  8. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    Do you still have the infected Nomu? I have one, and came across this article: https://news.drweb.com/news/?i=11390&lng=en. Looks like some came with the trojan from the factory. I had a system update pending on mine, and after 4 rounds of updates, the trojan appears to be gone. Both Kaspersky and Dr. Web apps found it before the updates, and both report it clean now.

    Can you explain how the GPS Test app increases the accuracy? That is my biggest complaint (other than the viruses) of the Nomu. Do you just run that app and hit the "inject time" and "inject XTRA data" and the GPS app just starts tracking more accurately?
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  9. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    Yes, I still have the phone and use it. Like you I had a system update, although just one, not four and this seems to have basically stopped the trojan/virus doing its thing. However, I still get a suspicious looking invitation to update software that is unlike both the normal update advice for apps and the update to device software that I had via the "wireless update" in Settings. See the attached screenshots. I have so far resisted the urge to go ahead with the suspicious looking things as I suspect that may be the trojan trying to update itself to keep up with the device software update I had done via "wireless update".
    IMG_2066.JPG IMG_2067 6.30.50 am.png OneShot_20170818_054034.png OneShot_20170818_054052.png

    As I don't know what the trojan may be capable of doing, I have only a throwaway gmail account on the phone and have only installed a few apps for navigation purposes. All my normal phone stuff is reserved for the iPhone I always carry in addition while riding, so if something malicious is still at work I believe little of value will be compromised.

    Frankly, I don't know how the GPS test app works, I think it may in some way be denying access to system apps etc that try to call on the location while I am navigating. In any event, My procedure is to
    1. Clear Aiding Data
    2. Inject Time
    3. Inject Xtra Data

    Then I launch my navigation app (usually Locus or TomTom). Sometimes I leave GPS test running, at others I dismiss it. Either way, Locus and TomTom continue to show a clean track and navigate accurately.

    I thought about trying to fully understand the way these gps apps really function but once I started to dig into it, I decided life was too short as it gets fairly esoteric quite quickly.

    Obviously, this is a bit of a nuisance and a real shame as the phone in most ways is excellent. The screen is super bright, the battery life is excellent and even the camera is quite good.
    #9
  10. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    I got the same software update after the initial system update. After the initial system update, I did another scan and the trojan was still there, but two backdoors that it had presumably installed were gone. At that point, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I did the software update. Once you get past the initial screen, it looks just like the first update, so I figure Nomu just changed to UI of the update in the first round. As I said, there was 3 more rounds of updates. Once that was complete, I did full scans with Kaspersky and Dr. Web again, and neither found any threats.

    Thankfully, I have also been using a dummy account. I did so because it's impractical to use a lock screen on a phone used for GPS, and I didn't want any problems if I lost the phone. I hadn't even considered the cyber security aspect.

    Does the Inject Time and Inject Xtra Data require WiFi or a Cell data connection? If so that won't be of much use to me, as I use it offline only.
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  11. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Farto Motografist

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    As long as the end result is a route (street) that can be followed, I don't see any of the screenshots as being "bad". Yeah, the lines wave back and forth a little, but you can tell what street it is.
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  12. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    It's not a big deal on the road, but trying to follow tracks in the woods when navigating snarled singletrack trails it is worse than useless.
    #12
  13. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the info on updates - doing mine now.

    As far as the Xtra data is concerned, I am pretty sure that this will need to come from wifi or cell tower (see the first para or two of this article https://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2063295). Not sure about timing data as this would be available from satellites too. However, I set all this up before leaving home/hotel or while I have cell reception so it's not a problem for me. Were I camping out of range of any of these for a period of time, I guess it might become an issue.
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  14. Myway

    Myway Long timer

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    I read that there is a Nomu update, that should fix the gps problems.

    You could test this.
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  15. Shawnee Bill

    Shawnee Bill Long timer

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    My Nomu S-10 is acting up, how do I find these updates you talk about?
    I have looked all over my phone, can't find them. So I must have missed something???
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  16. Myway

    Myway Long timer

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    Inmate Mr. M put a link on the internet.
    he got this after a question on facebook nomu facebook
    Code:
    NOMU_S10_COMMON_V1.1.0_2017_07_26_FQ5C62WTE1D.XWP.NOMU.M0.HB.H.SSXSSYDAKLS23.0726.V3.10.zip
    
    See V1.1.0 26 07-2017, there not setting every download on their site, as it seems. So maybe also not give a S10 update warning
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8DCQQg9HmL-c2IxY3QweF9HeUU/view

    see, versions, 1.0.7 1.0.8. 1.0.9 missed or there are no such versions.

    this is the download nomuS10 site
    # Update Date Version Download
    1 2017/5/17 1.0.6 NOMU
    2 2017/2/20 1.0.4 NOMU
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  17. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    The phone itself alerted me to two updates. The first update however, I found for myself by going to Settings>About phone> Wireless Update. I pressed the update on offer and the phone updated itself over wifi. It has not done this subsequently. The second two came from an alert unlike the usual Google Play update alerts. This was an upward pointing arrow which said software update. I was first reluctant to use this as I thought it was a trojan/virus thing. Eventually I did however after reading the post above. Two updates later, all now seems OK with straightforward behaviour.
    #17
  18. Myway

    Myway Long timer

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    What is your version on the phone?
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  19. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    I actually have two Nomu phones; on one, the version build number is NOMU_S10_COMMON _V1.0.9_2017_07_13 and on the second is NOMU_S10_COMMON_V1.1.0_2017_07_26

    On both phones there is now an app called Software update and both report that no update is available. Since both phones seem to be working OK, I am not bothering to establish why one seems more up to date than the other. I will however remark that a further difference between the phones is that on the newer version phone, there is no longer a section in the Settings>About phone section, for Wireless update. I presume the aforementioned Software Update app has replaced it for some reason.
    #19
  20. webmonstro

    webmonstro A Aventura Continua....

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    Do you find that the gps acurracy has improved with the update ?
    #20