Designated GPS unit vs. Smart Phone

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by NJDirtRiders, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. webmonstro

    webmonstro A Aventura Continua....

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    Loooooooooool
    I've been using a smartphone without cell phone coverages and without a sim card for years now , so I guess it just works by magic then ?
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  2. Arrius

    Arrius Adventurer

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    Well, I didn't say it is completely useless or works by magic, even I use smartphone APP sometimes but if you want more "accurate" location, GPS trackers are better. That comment was completely about accuracy not how they work.
    No need to be snarky about it...
  3. AdvNener

    AdvNener Long timer

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    Smartphones use a GPS chip, just like dedicated GPS unit. Actually, smartphones used chips compatible with both GPS and GLONASS BEFORE dedicated GPS manufacturers did (looking at you Garmin...). So if the smartphone or dedicated GPS are a bit old, chances are that the smartphone has a more reliable location functionnality overall.

    Are you sure you are an "expert"?
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  4. Arrius

    Arrius Adventurer

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    Most GPS chips in phones do not work nearly as well as stand-alone GPS devices. One wouldn't notice this because smartphones use assisted GPS (which you are not even using because of having no SIM card and internet access) where they get the orbital data and/or almanac data of the GPS satellites. Without this data and the instant fix (which you don't) phones are extremely slow at locating the position. Normally it works fine if there is AGPS data pre-downloaded but even that data goes stale after only a few days. Some smartphones instantly forget the data acquired from the satellites after closing the APP which is another huge waste of time.
    Dedicated GPS tracking devices are optimized for these situations where some of them can use AGPS data, they are expected to work without it. Stand-alone GPS devices don't simply "forget" almanac data and have to download it from the internet every time. Even an ancient (5+ year old) GPS tracking device can get a faster fix and provide a more accurate position than a smartphone, aside from the fact that GPS trackers are better in almost every aspect when long distance tracking is involved - battery, convenience, rugged design, (much) better accuracy etc. Smartphones were never and will never be better than a GPS tracking device considering the latter is designed for one purpose while smartphones are designed for something else entirely.
    I don't know what you are trying to prove but I assume since you use one, you "think" it is better and you feel the need to defend it. Clearly, you think you know something but you have no clue. Also, the way you address people is rude especially on an issue you are clearly not qualified to give anyone advice about.
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  5. webmonstro

    webmonstro A Aventura Continua....

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    No no no no and .... No

    I 'm no expert but...

    I have used GPS for years , on and off road . Still have a Garmin GPS II + from 1998 !!

    I'ves Used and updated varius GP's from Tom tom, garmins nuvis, Oregon GPSMap 62 , Etrax etc , eather mines or from friends

    I've hacked them and installed other software on some like Oziexplorer, Tyre NoniGPS , COMPGPS etc , and even made custom boot screen and menus for those (moste run WinCE except garmions and tom tom )

    I've made my own mapsets , from google maps , downloaded , converted images to and calculated calibration data and converted my whole country to be abel to use thoses maps on stand alone GPS


    I abandond Stand alone GPS completely for about 5 or 6 years now

    I've been useing a phone with no cellservice for almos 4 years now and no problem getting a fix , faster then most stand alone GPS

    I ususaly store the phone turnd off for weeks, and when i use it i gets singal and position in under a minute without any almanac data downloaded from internet .

    So Just because you don't know how these things work , doe'nt make you a expert either
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  6. webmonstro

    webmonstro A Aventura Continua....

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    your words :

    Arrius said:
    As an expert on the matter, I can safely say designated GPS units are far superior to smartphone APPs. Smartphone location tracking totally depends on the cellphone tower reception and not accurate at all most of the time.


    I'm not being snarky, you said they depend on cellphone tower , so if i don't have cell data it must work by some other tech
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  7. Arrius

    Arrius Adventurer

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    Clearly, it works with a GPS signal, I thought it was a given and didn't have to explain it further. It was simply a comment on the accuracy and you may have done all those things but it's like saying I have used a computer for 20 years so I know more than you to a well-educated computer engineer.
    Anyway, I have learned long ago not to argue with people like you on forums. You must be the one who has more technical knowledge or written hundreds of articles on the matter, not me. Thanks for enlightening me and have a good day.
  8. webmonstro

    webmonstro A Aventura Continua....

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    I'm not argueing
    I'm just stating my experience
    I Don't have technical knowledge and I have never written articles on the matter
    I've also not said i'm a expert
    I Just used smartphones and stand alones and i'm saying what I've observed and and learned

    YOU said it takes longer to aquire signal and loses almanac data randomly - I've never seen this
    YOU said they are not as accurat . - I've never seen any difference or evedence of this

    I've used Casio, Samsung , Huawei and "carrier branded " phones, none have these problems

    What have you used ? maybe it's your choce of phone that has issues ??

    Or the APP ?

    I've used ORUXMAPS, OSMAND, LOCUS, NDRIVE, BAKCCOUNTRY NAVIGATOR and other apps .

    What have you used ?

    This is my wikiloc page with some of my personal tracks , most done by smartphone - https://pt.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/user.do?id=10253

    What phone have you used to compare ?
    What stand alone ?
    What app ?


    Forums are great to learn and share experiences.
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  9. chasbmw

    chasbmw Long timer

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    With respect you are talking bollocks.

    My cellphone GPS gives me absolute accuracy and you don’t get that from cellphone triangulation alone.

    I have also used cellphone GPS all over the world in areas without cell phone coverage (there are a few left) with excellent results. A cell phone also benefits from a really fast processor and shed loads of Ram so no hanging around waiting for your Garmin to reroute you.....
  10. ssandijss

    ssandijss Adventurer

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    "Smartphone location tracking totally depends on the cellphone tower reception and not accurate at all" - expert on the matter!!! On what matter? :brow:brow
  11. ssandijss

    ssandijss Adventurer

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    I'm using my other phone specifically for navigation and with airplane mode ON, so the phone is using only built in GPS chipset and no towers.
    I get GPS accuracy within 2 meters! Is it bad accuracy?
  12. AdvNener

    AdvNener Long timer

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    AFAIK accuracy and precision in GPS have a lot of factors, but only a few depends on the device itself: clock accuracy and the antenna (can help get more "visible" satellites).

    But then i'm no "expert".
  13. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    1 you will soon realize that you've over evaluated your level of expertise, for this subject. or you won't, which will make it worse.

    2 opinion ?

    3 this is factually incorrect. an expert should know that cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, nfc, ant, gps, fm, am, etc are all separate antennas that do not depend upon each other. since the gps;/glonass antenna receives a signal just like stand alone units, it works everywhere above ground that stand alone units do.

    4 accuracy ? yes, accuracy is my favorite myth to smash ! here's a really well done experiment with several devices
    https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-gear/gps-accuracy-gps-vs-smartphone-vs-cyclocomputer/

    and a nice graphic representation of the results:
    gps_test_aggregate-768x307.jpg

    now, my own personal experience involving a dozen phones and 5 stand alones:
    if i have a location for on one, i will have a location for on the other, everywhere above ground. of course the phones and tablets ARE FASTER at determining location than the stand alone units, but the stand alone units will get a lock, eventually (usually) if the phones do. the ONLY places I've found that will not determine location are
    a) train tunnels
    b) caves

    the hardest places to get consistent accuracy are South facing sheet rock faces with large lakes at their base. multi path is the reason why. i haven't found any that are 180 degrees opposite to test yet. but i will. ;-)

    accuracy.... i routinely see +/- 3-4 meters in the woods while riding. i have verified this accuracy by riding the same trails and comparing tracks. the stand alone units were all LESS ACCURATE than the phones were, in my own experiments. here's an example of a 5 year old phone's recorded track, color coded according to accuracy (blue= +/-3m, orange= +/- 6m ) under heavy tree cover. I've changed the underlying map offset, to protect the actual riding area, but still give an idea of the canopy:
    Screenshot_2019-01-09-07-00-16.png

    in this example, the color coding according to accuracy is similar ( blue= +/- 3 m red = +/- 10 m) to show how a phone gps/glonass deals with multi path reflections from 300 meter (900 feet) high walls on either side of the trail...

    Screenshot_2019-01-09-07-06-08.png

    5 in my experiences, a phone takes 30 seconds to average location to within +/- 3-4 meters, depending on terrain. a stand alone takes 5 minutes for a similar REPORTED accuracy. when these devices are returned to the same location to TEST that reported accuracy, they vary around 5-15 meters depending on the terrain between reported 1st instead be 2nd instance. yes, i actually test this for fun. frequently.

    6 , 7 , 8 ... not relevant, not facts

    9 oh here we go, yes.... let's compare findings when you've tested some devices. I'm very curious as to what you find.

    also, for future reference:
    *agps does NOT mean "cellular plus gps hybrid"
    *phones do NOT need cellular signal for trilateration
    *trilateration and triangulation are NOT the same things
    *phones have the ABILITY to use triangulation to determine location, but do not rely on it.
    *trilateration is the same between stand alone units and phones/tablets/etc

    over the past 10 years of using GPS on motorcycles, I've really enjoyed the learning and fast application developments. the applications have exceeded stand alone abilities in the last 5 years, but have not stopped at those points, and continued to add features....

    I'm always open to being proven wrong. please do !
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  14. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    oh, more fun... let's go !

    1 got any experiements to show ? i would love to see proof of this
    2 agps is not needed, or used, in track recording. it CAN be used during STARTUP, but is not needed or used during tracking. an expert should know what AGPS is used for , and what it is not. :-)
    3 hmm, so if standalone units don't have agps to help with orbital data, where do THEY get it ? oh yes, the same place that phones do when phones don't have cellular signals to use.
    4 have you tested this ? i have:

    I took two phones from a drawer that hadn't been powered on in over two months, and powered them on a little over 300 miles from where they were powered off. the casio commando and brigadier powered on and determined location within 30 seconds. they did not have celluar service (no sim card, no signal) at the location we started our ride. my regular phone also showed no cellular service, even though it had a sim card and worked about twenty minutes prior to entering the valley where we parked our trucks and unloaded the bikes. the rest of the day's riding there was no cellular signal on any of the devices, and they recorded tracks just fine, with similar accuracies reported.

    5 this is an interesting part.... if the standalones can't use agps to speed up a cold-start, how are they faster at determining location data ? i'm genuinely curious how this is explained, since a phone in airplane mode (no cellular, no agps, no wifi) has the EXACT SAME GPS SIGNALS TO WORK WITH, but a much faster cpu to do all the trilateration math. hmm. i've got to find a solution for this one, it's not logical, really.

    6 please provide proof of a phone model and application version that forgets positional data upon closing said application. i would love to try and duplicate what you've found in testing.

    7 optimized ? hmm, how's that again ? how does a standalone determine it's location FASTER than a phone, when neither have AGPS for the cold-start, but the standalone has a slower clock cycle ? I could understand if the phones FASTER location aquisition was attributed to USING AGPS, but when they're both denied access to agps, how is the alleged standalones faster lock going to happen ? i'm very curious about this, as I've seen exactly the opposite happen. :-)

    8 please see 6

    9 hmm. my experiences are the opposite. sitting in my basement garage under another floor with 50-80 foot tall tree cover, with no cellular signal, no wifi, no bluetooth, a phone will determine location in about 30 seconds after startup. a standalone takes 3-5 minutes, if it achieves location at all. accuracy reported by the phone is normally +/- 4-5 meters, while the standalone is +/- 20m, if it determines location. i would love to find an explanation for this but I haven't yet ?

    10 ok, this is the opinion part, no biggie

    11a smartphones have had replacable batteries for a while now
    11b what does this mean specifically ? what convenience ? I have a phone in my pocket most of the day, is that to be considered an INconvenience ?
    11c in the last 5+ years of motorcycling i've been using rugged phones. i haven't broken one yet, aside the casio commando that i threw into the toolbox and shattered it's screen. that's ZERO failures in the last 10+ years of motorcycling with phones.
    11d ok, prove it. :-)

    12 vague generalization, no facts to discuss

    13 i believe that's what you did in 12, no ?

    14 no clue... like the earlier statements you made about what agps is, how phones use cellular towers to determine location information, etc ? seriously, you should think these parts through before using them as talking points.

    again, i'm open to all debate and proving me wrong. please do !
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  15. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    You have NO clue. Absolutely NONE. Sorry, you are far from an expert.

    Unlike your WRONG comment, my smartphone is currently operating offline, and seeing 19 satellites, while INDOORS. That is about 20 seconds after being turned on.
    My Garmin would NEVER do that.
    It is current fixed on 15 of those satellites while indoors.
    My stupid Garmin would NEVER do that. Oops, now it is 16 fixes.
    It is seeing GPS and Glonass satellites. Not "totally depending on cellphone tower reception".

    I worked in a semi-anechoic RF chamber for years, testing radio equipment. I tested GPS equipment and I testing smartphones. Testing their ability to receive as well as testing there RF emissions and immunity. Some of the best GPS receivers were in smartphones. Some of the worse were in GPS equipment, since they knew that would be outdoors with a clear view of the sky, they did not give a priority to sensitivity. The smartphones on the other hand know that they were expected to work indoors, so they were often a bit more sensitive.

    Sorry you are so clueless.
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  16. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    You guys answered many of the questions that I have not asked yet, since Im a gps noob n jumping in shortly with a cheap rugged phone to use in asia. thanks for the confidence in the phones ability to get me where I m to stay in those cities of mass construction n signs I cannot read.
    questions will follow shortly .
  17. Baroquenride

    Baroquenride Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

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    It's funny how the GPS vs phone debate pops up like clockwork every so often by someone whose adamant regarding their own 'expertise' and in fact, show quite the opposite with their words and statements. Occasionally they'll admit they were wrong, but usually they go off on their way.
    It's interesting how Arrius states he's a newb in his first post then comes on making this thread making bold claims. Not sure if he's a troll or just uneducated. :dunno
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  18. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Any post that starts with, “I am an expert,” or words to the effect, is usually worth ignoring.
  19. MrMac

    MrMac Long timer Supporter

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    I'd really like to see some published literature; journal articles, white papers, etc., to back all this up. I will say that I am NOT an expert on GPS. I have however, spent over 30 years in the geospatial industry, mostly in mapping and GIS. I've done a bit field work with various devices going back to early versions of the Military units before SA was turned off (the Plugger). But when it comes to consumer grade GPS, I've not found much practical difference between the dedicated units and what is now available on most smart phones. The only slight advantage may come from the antennae, which can make it a little better at maintaining a fix in sub-optimal situations. Now, if you want to consider professional mapping and survey grade hardware, certainly! Especially if you need centimeter-level accuracy and RTK. But for navigation and most basic resource mapping applications, a smart phone, tablet, or any hand-held computer with GPS is a much better option due to the variety of software that can be used based upon specific needs. And if you do need higher accuracy, you can always pair it with a separate blue-tooth enabled high-end device (I sometimes still use a Trimble blue-tooth receiver in certain situations). I just have no need for a dedicated unit.
  20. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    I, too, was a skeptic using a GPS-capable phone in place of a dedicated unit. This stemmed from the fact that I was using a Nokia phone/tablet with an A-GPS capability.

    At the same time, I purchased a Garmin Oregon 450. A dedicated unit, which did very poorly whatever it claimed to do.

    In 2015 I bought a cheapie prepaid Nokia Windows 8 phone. Even with the limited software availability, I find it adequate as a GPS. I am still using it, and sold the Garmin. Oh, and I don't even have a SIM card in it. At some point I stopped paying ATT.