Phone or GPS Unit?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by kderacing, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    I just want to correct this information since it keeps getting repeated. In Google Maps if you press the hamburger menu (three lines) or on the latest version on your profile picture you'll open the menu where you'll find the "Offline Maps" option, click it, select your map and download the maps you need. In most cases maps will expire after a year and will need to be updated. I just did an update on mine and even the maps that includes Montreal, Ottawa and Québec are expiring in 2021. This allows to use Google Maps on the go no matter if you've got signal, including navigation. So there, an easy navigation solution for when you can't be bothered to create a route on another app.

    I'm using Viewranger otherwise, if I create my route on the computer at home and save it I can open it on my cellphone with the app (synced with an account), if I don't have a computer or data available I can created a route through the app, it doesn't require signal to pull up a route once it's been synced so I can just plan everything on the computer, sync my phone and leave without worrying. I can import/export GPX and create a route from one. It's compatible with many maps (with OSM and their own map for free), there's BuddyBeacon that lets others track you and route creation is dead simple (click to add waypoints, move them around, let it generate the route automatically or do it by hand by putting many waypoints), their map can be downloaded to my device for offline use in remote location, I can check out other people's tracks wherever I'm going and so on... It just can't automatically follow roads between waypoints on a route created with the Android app (it's supposed to come at some point, but it does work on iOS and online on the computer). Oh yeah and so far I haven't had to pay for anything...

    https://my.viewranger.com/
  2. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    You know that, and I know that.

    But the problem is the people that think you have to be on a cell tower for a smartphone GPS to work. Those people have no clue about Google maps having an offline mode. And if they do, the offline map size is somewhat limited. So I still push them away from Google maps for GPS use, even though Google maps are nice, and can be 'forced' to work offline.
    ohgood likes this.
  3. MatLax

    MatLax Been here awhile

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    But they're not really limited, just create an offline map, zoom out, select an area (looks to be close to 500km n-s and 250km e-w) and start downloading, create another map, select the adjacent area and download and so on... The limit is something like 24 maps from what I can find, that means a lot of traveling before you have to delete one map to download another, more than enough distance to find signal/wifi, especialy since it's something better used on road (as some remote locations aren't up to date based on my trip between Senneterre and La Tuque in Québec where my GPS was telling me to follow roads that didn't exist anymore, hence my switch to Viewranger for offroad traveling).

    You're right to point out (and it seems it needs to get repeated again and again) that cellphones don't become bricks when they don't have a SIM card in them... I'm surprised more people don't realise that, what do people do with their old phones? I've got a Nexus 5 and a Moto X Play that are used exclusively as GPS now, if people are just going to throw their phone in the garbage I'll gladly take them off their hands!
    Albie likes this.
  4. Bullseye

    Bullseye Mr. Bad Example Supporter

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    I was still on the fence about the "phone vs GPS". I totally get the advantages of a dedicated GPS unit... or at least I 'did'... until my trip through Utah back-country last Fall. Compared to a phone, a dedicated GPS (as envisioned by Garmin) is a pretty dumb device in this age or interconnected technologies. On my trip, I ran phone and GPS (Garmin Montana) side-by-side. Along the way, I was calling "audibles" multiple times per day... sometimes following a track, other times playing the route by ear, never using turn-by-turn and rarely on a paved road. Almost everyday, I would quickly give-up on the Garmin at the first course change. The phone is so easy to reroute, change your plan, create a track on the fly, or just look around a map. If you don't like one tool or app... switch to another, you're not stuck with any one way of doing things. With many apps (I was using Rever) you can plan your route on a computer, tablet or phone and it just shows up on all your devices... no transferring files, etc. With Rever, GAIA and probably most similar apps, downloading maps is easy, so you need not have cell service. I've now mounted a 7" tablet holder where my Garmin used to sit.
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  5. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    unfortunately many folks have not tried what you're describing yet... or they haven't HAD TO , yet. if and when the preprogrammed route needs a redirection, things change nicely... with the right tools

    enjoy the ride
    Bullseye likes this.
  6. nacho squatcho

    nacho squatcho Been here awhile Supporter

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    Just bumping this topic as I’m currently in this situation right now. I’ve been using an iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 for GPS primarily to just record tracks. I rarely use my phone for navigation and usually just keep my phone on airplane mode in my pocket and send the track to my laptop when I get home. However, I am starting to ride areas unknown to me where I want to have nav out in my face and easily accessible.

    My main issue with the using the phone so far is battery life. My battery is basically shot on my iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8, while better, hasn’t lasted a full day of riding yet with the display on. I ride a kickstart only 2-stroke so charging on the bike is out unless it’s hooked to an auxiliary battery pack. Maybe that’s the way to go but whatever setup I go with I’d like it to be as simple as possible.

    The only dedicated GPS that really looks appealing is the Garmin eTrex 22x, mostly due to battery life, simplicity, and price.

    Any input is highly appreciated. :thumb
    MrGadalot likes this.
  7. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    There are no lights or anything that you can tap into?
  8. nacho squatcho

    nacho squatcho Been here awhile Supporter

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    It’s a YZ250X, so no.
  9. ProLeisure

    ProLeisure Gimme shelter... Supporter

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    One possible solution would be to get a handlebar bag like Giant Loop’s Zigzag bag, place a rechargeable battery pack in there and run a charging cable to your phone on your handlebars. Even a small rechargeable battery pack like this one would keep your phone charged all day. (There’s a plethora of size options).

    I do something similar, I have an SAE cord running from my battery up to my handlebars. I cut a small hole into the back of my Zigzag bag, I can place a rechargeable battery in there and easily charge my backup battery while riding. I also recently picked up a wireless charging mount. It’s expensive, but I’ll be using it on several bikes and plan on keeping it for years. I still have to hardwire it to my bikes, but right now it plugs into my SAE plug and allows me to continuously charge my phone while riding.

    I’m in the process of moving away from a dedicated GPS and going to an old iPhone. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but it’s just so much easier, for me anyway, to use a phone to upload/download/share tracks, etc.

    One thing to be aware of, vibration can ruin your iPhone’s camera. (Which is why I’m using an old iPhone 6 I don’t care about. I'm using one of these to alleviate vibration, and it's working well, but it's still something to be aware of). Here are two threads on the topic of vibration and iPhones:

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/iphone-7-camera-damaged-after-using-a-handlebar-mount.1379617/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/iphone-11-pro-camera-failures-due-to-vibration.1432567/

    Here's a pic of my current setup:
    [​IMG]
    nacho squatcho likes this.
  10. nacho squatcho

    nacho squatcho Been here awhile Supporter

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    Do you leave the screen on all the time with your iPhone and does it ever overheat when charging? This was my primary concern with leaving the display on all the time along with it being a distraction. I’m honestly surprised there’s not an easy tap to wake sort of feature/app out there for iPhone (I think there’s a few ways to do it with Android).
  11. ProLeisure

    ProLeisure Gimme shelter... Supporter

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    Yes, I leave the screen on all the time. With that said, the longest I've probably ridden so far is 3 1/2 hours with the iPhone always on and overheating hasn't been an issue. I also don't notice the screen when I'm riding because it's not in my field of view unless I specifically look at it.

    I'm currently playing around using different GPS apps. Right now I'm using Gaia to track rides, which is always up and running.
    nacho squatcho likes this.
  12. nacho squatcho

    nacho squatcho Been here awhile Supporter

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    That’s what I’m currently using as well. A lot of my rides can be anywhere from 6 to 8+ hours of ride time. I’m going to order a 10,000 mAh juice pack and see how far that gets me.
  13. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    Kyocera XD ($45-55 eBay)
    6” screen, removable battery ($9 Amazon)
    Silicon bike mount ($11 Amazon)
    I use one on my two stroke a lot. It’s accurate to +\- 9 feet in heavy tree cover and the software slaughters $800 Garmin units
    MikeV42085 and nacho squatcho like this.
  14. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    I quite literally carry a 40,000mAh battery pack for that reason, it'll power a single phone for about three 16 hour days.

    Also you can get an inverter to make DC on a kick started bike that is on AC.
    nacho squatcho likes this.
  15. MikeV42085

    MikeV42085 Adventurer

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  16. MikeV42085

    MikeV42085 Adventurer

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    I have been following your posts re rugged android phone for navigation and have decided to take the plunge. Tried 2 garmin's and never got good at the waypoint/route/track/basecamp/GPS file/ etc, etc.

    Thank you for the guidance and advice you have shared. I feel comfortable giving this a go

    Best
    MikeV
    Greenville, SC
  17. abramsgunner

    abramsgunner Long timer

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    I've been on the Kyocera Pro bandwagon for a couple years now and love the solution. My favorite feature is the ability to use the app that suites me best for each ride. I tend to use Locus off-road because it lets me use the maps of my choice and is easy to work with .gpx files and tracks and such. When on-road, I switch over to Copilot and have a more tradition GPS navigation experience for road adventures to places I've never been before.

    If they screw up my favorite app with an update, there are several more to choose from for much less than a high end GPS unit.

    My phone is for music, Road-Id tracking, and backup nav if my Kyocera has an accident. When off-road, I also keep an old school Garmin etrex as a failsafe. I pull it out and put a marker where my truck is parked so I can find my way home is everything else dies.
  18. road_apple

    road_apple Hit the Trail

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    I ride a bike that has limited range, 30-35mpg I need to know where my next gas station is and that it is open for business. In the urban jungle I still find Google offline maps to be the best solution for me but in the wild not so much. There are plenty of good apps for that including OsmAnd, Locus that are fine. The main thing is prior planning for whatever I do including paper maps, Rotopax, compass, a five ft. hose, Homey don't stop for nothing. Anybody effected by the current Garmin shutdown/ransomware attack?
  19. AB-bound

    AB-bound n00b

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    My first setup was an older automotive Garmin Nuvi 255 that I had just laying around. Never had any issues with water penetration, central handlebar RAM mount on a Cb500x.

    A dedicated GPS for me is meant to provide only the basics: gps accurate speed, directions and routing. Nothing fancy. Explore during a ride without really paying attention to it, but able to glance down and verify if I ever feel lost.

    I always thought that a dedicated GPS unit was more desirable if only for the fact that if/when I’m ever involuntarily removed from my bike, I want to ensure my phone is on me and not my bike. In the event of injury I may not be able to get back to the bike, and even so the device may be ejected during the crash. Phone in secure pocket for me.

    I’m currently updating another old etrex20 with the free routable base maps (openstreetmap) and configuring it to provide basic routing info similar to an automotive unit. The latest software garmin issued for the etrex allows for a miniature version of the automotive style setup. Screen is tiny but routing functions are the same. Also playing/practicing with track log import/export from etrex into basecamp and google earth.
    2D41334F-32B4-4B6E-9E25-5D1603646857.jpeg

    Will run with the etrex for a while. It’s also orange which matches my Vstrom.
  20. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    My actual phone is usually in my pocket, my GPS phone(s) don't have sims in them unless its an around town thing where I slap my day to day on the bar to find something.