smart phone gps' avalible in oz and reliability

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by ozranger, May 7, 2011.

  1. ozranger

    ozranger n00b

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    hi
    i am looking at getting a smart phone for navigation. has anyone had experience with this in remote areas where you won't be getting phone recieption?

    any phones work better then others?
    particular apps that are good?

    cheers
    #1
  2. Hardhead

    Hardhead Long timer

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    Apparently Garmin does one. I cant give you any details but I know some inmates here have them. GPS is separate to the phone bit so doesn't rely on the phone networks.
    #2
  3. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    What type of riding do you do? What GPS features are you looking for?

    I use MotionX GPS, it's great for trail riding but does not do driving directions and has a bit of a learning curve. There's lots of other software, though the ones with good australian map data that can do driving directions tend to be a bit expensive.

    I'd definitely go for an iPhone 4 over any other choice, as it's much more mature. There are apps for everything from turn by turn navigation, to racing lap time statistics, to real time weather/rain maps, to suggestions for nice weekend rides. You can find a full list of navigation apps by clicking here. There are over 5,000 of them available in the Australian app store! If you have iTunes installed, click the "View Navigation in iTunes" link at the top right - it's much more organised than the website.

    You will probably need to rig up some way to keep the phone charged while using it as a GPS, or else battery life will limit what features you can use.
    #3
  4. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    This isn't really true. The 3G and WiFi radios are both used to get a significantly faster lock on your position than would otherwise be possible, and almost all of the freely available map data comes with license restrictions that lock you into using them when you have 3G coverage.

    You can use it outside of 3G, but only with some apps, and even then a few features usually won't work (eg: finding directions to the nearest KTM dealer or SPOT style location updates).
    #4
  5. GodSilla

    GodSilla I did that.

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    A "Smart phone" may also be a bit fragile for your purposes, depending on what you do. I've seen so many broken in the first 3 months of ownership it is not funny, and that is without them being strapped onto a set of handlebars either. They are not shockproof or waterproof. The ones with a dedicated GPS chip (SIRF III-compliant usually) should work when out-of-range, but as stated above an application and data will be required.

    All up, they are expensive and delicate electronic gadgets that I would hesitate to use as a navigation tool in out of the way places. A dedicated GPS is prolly a cheaper and better bet. For more info have a browse of the Layin' Down Tracks forum off the main page, it has lots of good info there.

    My 2c.
    #5
  6. Cruz

    Cruz Lost but laughing.

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    Hardhead is referring to the Garmin Asus A50 Nuvifone which has a separate GPS that also has a smart phone running Android 2.2 on it .

    Runs Garmin maps just like a normal GPS off of the satellites or can run maps off phone app if you would want to.

    Very happy with it so far and comes with car cradle etc. I use it in the car and have a Oregon 300 for the bike. Agree with Godsilla's comments. If you were touring and could mount it in a waterproof case on the bars then I think it would be okay, or carry it with you etc.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    ?!? the iPhone 4's case is high strength glass and metal. Both are stronger than the plastic used on cheap "shockproof" GPS devices, waterproof is easily solved with a waterproof case, which also eliminates any chance of shattering the glass. I have dropped my iPhone 4 on concrete from 1 metre at least 10 times (without any protection at all), and crashed my KTM several times (with a protective mount) and it barely has a mark on it. Sure, it's not the most solid product out there but it is as good as it can be with the size/weight goals they have.

    I would also trust apple's engineers to do a better job of designing and sourcing reliable components. They probably spend more time/money designing the iPhone's on/off button than Garmin spends on their entire product line. Apple has $65,000,000,000 in revenue to work with, vs garmin's $3,400,000 and the iPhone is Apple's most important product, while Garmin's most important product is their car GPS systems. Apple has a team of some of the highest paid engineers in the world working around the clock for about two years on each new version of the iPhone (when they release a new version, they've usually already been working on it's successor for a year). Garmin does not put that much effort into any of their products.

    To give you an idea how high their standards are, apple just delayed the white iPhone by over a year because it didn't pass quality control (something to do with the colour changing slightly when exposed to several months of normal use). Garmin probably doesn't even bother testing for things like that. Sure, you and I might not give a **** about the colour of a device - but that close attention is applied to every aspect of the product.

    I'm an iPhone software developer and have access to videos presentations by apple's engineers. Having watched them talk for many ours about the GPS technology in the iPhone, it's clear that they take GPS very seriously and are spending a lot of money and inventing a lot of new technology in the area. I wouldn't be surprised if they spend over a hundred millions of dollars a year on improving the iPhone's GPS feature set.
    #7
  8. Cruz

    Cruz Lost but laughing.

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    All their millions hasn't done much for all the screens on the guys work i phones that have cracked then, many from small falls or in pockets. You can't really be serious anyway after the stuff up with the phone reception on the i4 and the metal case. Just because they have money to spend does not mean they always do things well, and usually the more money they make the worse that becomes.

    Think IBM, Microsoft, GM, Ford etc.
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  9. GodSilla

    GodSilla I did that.

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    I'm with Cruz here, busted screens seem to be a general Smart phone malady.

    Maybe the iphone has a better one?? I couldn't say personally, but I treat my mobile phone like I treat my gps, a single-function device. I don't need (or want) blueteeth, mp3, photo's, voice commands, movies, camera, or any of that other peripheral stuff. Having said that, my son handed me one of his expired phones, and it does blueteeth in my car, so at that level it saves a hands-free kit if you like jabbering whilst driving (I don't).
    #9
  10. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    Sure, you can crack the screen on an iPhone if you drop it and it lands in a bad way or if you sit on it. None of those type of impacts will happen if it's in a good quality case attached to a bike's handlebars. Lots of people (like me) have abused their phones and not had it break, but you rarely hear those stories.

    I've seen plenty of people in the Layin Down The Tracks section talk talk about replacing/repairing their GPS under warranty or outside warranty, so you're not necessarily safer by getting a unit purpose built to be exposed to elements and vibration.

    I am serious, and for what it's worth the iPhone 4 gets better reception than any previous model iPhone (and no-one was complaining about their reception). This has been demonstrated over and over again by engineers who work in the field. Don't believe everything the media tells you, most of them have no idea what they're talking about. Here's what a team of independent phone engineers have to say about it:

    They have a damn good track record for getting this stuff right though.
    #10
  11. lout

    lout AYCIC

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    If they are so good how come they fucked up a simple thing like the aerial on the iphone 4? lack of testing or just plain lack of care?
    #11
  12. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    They didn't test it by watching the "bars" as you hold the device in different ways. They tested it by checking if you are able to make phone calls while holding it in different ways, and in that test - the iPhone 4 has the best antenna they have ever sold.

    Anyway, we're getting waaay off topic. The original question was whether or not anyone has experience using a smart phone as a GPS in remote australia. I've got lots of experience doing exactly that, and it works great! :thumb

    The only issue I've ever had is over-heating, if you leave your phone turned on in harsh sunlight for hours on end it will show a temperature warning and turn itself off. After being off for a short time (even while still in harsh sunlight) the phone will begin to work again. I'm still playing around with this, but it seems like turning the screen off during extended periods of full sun riding is good enough. It probably doesn't happen while riding fast either, as the wind is enough to keep it cool. Something to be aware of, but not a deal breaker by any means.
    #12
  13. Cruz

    Cruz Lost but laughing.

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    So, how do you get on with no phone reception in the remote areas?
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  14. Copie

    Copie The resident new guy

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    With an ip4? mine works fine without reception (also works fine on my wifi only ipad2) just takes a few seconds longer to acquire a signal.
    #14
  15. guzzimike

    guzzimike Long timer

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    You don't need phone reception, it works just like any other GPS.
    I have an Iphone 4 with the Tomtom app, it's the best damn GPS I have.
    (2 Garmin Nuvis, 1 Garmin 60cx)
    Can't tell you what it's like on the bike as I use the 60cx ATM for that.
    #15
  16. Cruz

    Cruz Lost but laughing.

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    Does it burn your batteries a lot quicker or do you have the phone wired in to the bike?
    #16
  17. LouisBiker

    LouisBiker TR650

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    I'll second that, the iphone 4 is very fragile, we've had dozens break at work from small falls as they are very brittle. Also I've not seen one that DOESN'T have a scratch! Gorilla glass my arse. Also really expensive to repair a screen.. Over $275 each.

    Good phone for a fashion tragic..
    #17
  18. Copie

    Copie The resident new guy

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    Its going to chew batteries (any of them do) but best bet is to get either an external battery pack or wire up a 12v plug to run a charger

    Mine just has a belkin bumper case on it, with a screen protector and gets abused on a daily basis, sits in the dash of the truck 12 hours a day bouncing around (cab overs, some bump's/dips enough to push me out of the air ride seat:huh ) , gets dropped out of my top pocket, used for hours on end, then gets strapped to the bike for trips away. Zero marks on it (the screen protector is a bit marked though from sitting in my pocket with keys) but if i replaced that for the 10 bucks it cost me it would be like new again.

    Without a case and a screen protector they are easy enough to break, but most phones are like that now (except for the 6300/C5 they are bulletproof)
    #18
  19. viz

    viz I Ride Ms Piggy

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    OK here is my $0.02

    I have a coupla Garmins, NĂ¼vi and a Zumo. Plus others no longer used, or broken. Plus a couple of GPS receivers hooked into a laptop with moving maps etc...

    And an iPhone 4 with Sygic Moving Map - it is the iP4 that is by far the best GPS interface that I have ever used. It is fast, very fast to load, to run to update, and accurate. Faster than some dedicated GPS units with the same software.

    Now let's kill a myth. If the GPS software comes with its own mapset (as does the Sygic moving Map) it DOES NOT NEED 3G ACCESS. It will work all by its sorry self out of phone contact with any phone network. iPhone's proprietary map system needs to download a mapset and will not work outside of a phone network. The GPS chip in the phone is as good as any, if not better. Will even work inside my house when no other GPS unit that I have will work.

    I have used the iPhone on the bike in its own mount and it works very well. However, vibration is going to kill it - you can see that. And you have to turn the acceleration sensor function off somehow - the acceleration of the bike and vibration makes the screen flip upside down and inside out. Amusing to watch, but not practical. I have a waterproof USB charger plug installed that charges the iPhone while I am riding - so power not an issue. The iPhone goes into a waterproof handlebar bag, but after the last trip which was liking riding in a perpetual waterfall I am also putting the iPhone in a waterproof rolltop bag...

    Not real good as a primary GPS, only because of vibration. Very good as a backup. If you can get around the vibration and jarring by all means go for it - there are few better units that I know of that will do the job as well or better...

    viz
    #19
  20. sysie

    sysie Been here awhile

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    Another vote for the iphone4 :-), I have a oziexplorer gps and a nuvi in the landcruiser... But prefer using iphone's mudmap ( in the place of oziexplorer) and Telstra's navigator(build by garmin) instead of the nuvi... Just one mount, one cradle, one power cable and can swith to whatever navigation app I need. I am currently in paris, and disabled 3g to prevent data charges.. So I will use the wifi in the hotel and "browse" the googlemap app arround where I am to download the maps and then start walking...
    #20