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Iphone 4 vs Magellan Explorist GC


Douze
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Hey Guys! I have an Iphone4 and was wondering if purchasing the Magellan Explorist GC would be a good upgrade? What can it do differently from my phone? Is it worth the few hundred bucks to upgrade???

My GC fell out of my pocket while caching on my bike along a paved trail. No problem.

I've dropped it in a shallow creek. No problem.

I've left it out in the rain. No problem.

 

I cannot say the same for any phone's I know of.

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John in Valley Forge made some excellent points and I have experienced all of them! I have an eXplorist GC and a Droid. Sometimes the site is experiencing difficulties - my GPSr doesn't care. I load it full of caches and set out. The site can even go offline and I'm still merrily caching away.

 

Remember on 10/10/10 when the site was swamped? All the phone cachers couldn't get their phones to work because the site was overwhelmed. I was merrily caching along with my eXplorist GC.

 

I just bought a kayak and I can't wait to tackle those 5-star terrains. My phone will be safely sealed in a waterproof case (or even left in the car), but my trusty GPSr will be tagging along. (With some custom made floaties so it doesn't sink if I flip over!)

 

Caching w/ my phone cuts my already-short battery life even shorter. The batteries in my GPSr last about 18-20 hours. (That one is the biggest selling point, IMHO.)

 

I once dropped my GPSr down a steep hill. It rolled end over end for about 100'. My phone wouldn't have survived the first rock.

 

That $159 bucks will be the best $159 bucks you've ever spent :)

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Douze - I am currently having this debate.. I already own the iPhone4 and have the purchased app. But my app slows way down after an hour or so of use. That is why I am considering buying a magellan explorist. But, it seems a lot like using my phone. How do you think they compare now??

 

As we are new to geocaching, we were using an iPhone 4 with the Geocaching app on the Southern Gulf Islands (the ones in British Columbia between Vancouver and Victoria) a couple of weeks ago. Once we got out of a 3G cellular service area, the app was no longer usable. We also had data roaming turned off to avoid paying nearby expensive US cellular service charges.

 

If you will always been in areas with good 3G cellular service, the iPhone 4 with an app will work fine. For areas outside of a cellular service area, look at satellite-based GPS like the Magellan or look at a Bad Elf for the iPhone/iPod Touch. My Bad Elf just made it through Canada Customs and is sitting at CanadaPost, ready to pickup and try out on my iPod touch 4G.

 

B.

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Get the GC too. I occasionally use my iPhone with my handheld, especially under heavy tree cover. As people said, the GC is much more rugged, and the entire device is geared towards caching and nothing else. If you don't have insurance on your iPhone, you drop it or whatever, you get to pay a nice $630 (assuming you have the 16GB model :smile: )

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Douze - I am currently having this debate.. I already own the iPhone4 and have the purchased app. But my app slows way down after an hour or so of use. That is why I am considering buying a magellan explorist. But, it seems a lot like using my phone. How do you think they compare now??

 

Hey Feller - I feel like having BOTH devices is totally useful. I too get worried about my phone sometimes - dust, dropping it, etc - so actually having both is really nice - especially when i want to do some hard core caching. The app does draw the battery out - so then you have a 3/4 dead phone to deal with after an afternoon or so. I use the iphone when I'm in the city or random places where i didnt plan to cache - the option is ALWAYS there so that is nice. But when you are planning on going out - grabbing your Magellan and some cheap batteries is an awesome option. I still log most of my finds on my phone as i find it easier. I got my Magellan at half price too at Canadian Tire - they often have it on sale - and i have seen it on ebay for cheap too - just some thoughts. Enjoy your caching!

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Douze - I am currently having this debate.. I already own the iPhone4 and have the purchased app. But my app slows way down after an hour or so of use. That is why I am considering buying a magellan explorist. But, it seems a lot like using my phone. How do you think they compare now??

 

As we are new to geocaching, we were using an iPhone 4 with the Geocaching app on the Southern Gulf Islands (the ones in British Columbia between Vancouver and Victoria) a couple of weeks ago. Once we got out of a 3G cellular service area, the app was no longer usable. We also had data roaming turned off to avoid paying nearby expensive US cellular service charges.

 

If you will always been in areas with good 3G cellular service, the iPhone 4 with an app will work fine. For areas outside of a cellular service area, look at satellite-based GPS like the Magellan or look at a Bad Elf for the iPhone/iPod Touch. My Bad Elf just made it through Canada Customs and is sitting at CanadaPost, ready to pickup and try out on my iPod touch 4G.

 

B.

 

You can use the iPhone app where there is no cell service, if you have saved the caches to the app beforehand. The iPhone 4 has a GPS chip and does not require network connectivity to navigate to caches.

 

A PQ can be saved to the app just like to a GPS device, or you can select individual caches while searching from the app, for access later.

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Douze - I am currently having this debate.. I already own the iPhone4 and have the purchased app. But my app slows way down after an hour or so of use. That is why I am considering buying a magellan explorist. But, it seems a lot like using my phone. How do you think they compare now??

 

As we are new to geocaching, we were using an iPhone 4 with the Geocaching app on the Southern Gulf Islands (the ones in British Columbia between Vancouver and Victoria) a couple of weeks ago. Once we got out of a 3G cellular service area, the app was no longer usable. We also had data roaming turned off to avoid paying nearby expensive US cellular service charges.

 

If you will always been in areas with good 3G cellular service, the iPhone 4 with an app will work fine. For areas outside of a cellular service area, look at satellite-based GPS like the Magellan or look at a Bad Elf for the iPhone/iPod Touch. My Bad Elf just made it through Canada Customs and is sitting at CanadaPost, ready to pickup and try out on my iPod touch 4G.

 

B.

 

You can use the iPhone app where there is no cell service, if you have saved the caches to the app beforehand. The iPhone 4 has a GPS chip and does not require network connectivity to navigate to caches.

 

A PQ can be saved to the app just like to a GPS device, or you can select individual caches while searching from the app, for access later.

+1

Most people who use a dedicated GPS device plan out their outings and enter caches into the device anyway, so doing it with a smartphone/app (saving it to the app's favorites) isn't any different. Not only does it allow you to cache in weak or no cell signal, it saves on data with limited plans. The fragile nature of a phone can be remedied with a tough case. I have an Otterbox Defender Series and I've dropped it on the ground, on concrete, and bumped it against trees or whatever while it was clipped to my belt. I'm not saying a smartphone is the superior caching tool, but I think it's better than its forum reputation leads you to believe.

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Hi there!

 

I also own a iPhone 4 and encounter 2 main problems I ask myself if a GPSr - the Explorist GC - can solve :

* too short battery life - you already gave me the answer, true GPSr are far superior

* accuracy : too often my iPhone get lost (100-150 feet) because of the terrain or the tree cover

 

Hence my two questions :

1) Will the Explorist make a true difference in terms of accuracy?

2) Is a Premium account really mandatory (I do not have it and do not plan to have in the near future)? Which functions are blocked unless you are a Premium?

 

Thanks for your answers

 

Oliantoine

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Douze - I am currently having this debate.. I already own the iPhone4 and have the purchased app. But my app slows way down after an hour or so of use. That is why I am considering buying a magellan explorist. But, it seems a lot like using my phone. How do you think they compare now??

 

As we are new to geocaching, we were using an iPhone 4 with the Geocaching app on the Southern Gulf Islands (the ones in British Columbia between Vancouver and Victoria) a couple of weeks ago. Once we got out of a 3G cellular service area, the app was no longer usable. We also had data roaming turned off to avoid paying nearby expensive US cellular service charges.

 

If you will always been in areas with good 3G cellular service, the iPhone 4 with an app will work fine. For areas outside of a cellular service area, look at satellite-based GPS like the Magellan or look at a Bad Elf for the iPhone/iPod Touch. My Bad Elf just made it through Canada Customs and is sitting at CanadaPost, ready to pickup and try out on my iPod touch 4G.

 

B.

 

One point of clarification here. You can load and save caches into the iPhone app via PQ or saving them to a list. I rarely, if ever, access the network from my phone when I'm caching with it -- sucks up the battery. I usually disable network in the settings first. When you do this, you save battery because the phone is not accessing the network, but you have full access to the caches saved on the device in the same way you would on a GPSr.

 

I'm not saying a GPSr isn't a better idea; I think it is. This issue of being out of range, though, isn't a differentiating factor.

 

--Matt

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The GPS is MUCH better in terms of accuracy.

 

I remember the first time I went caching with a friend who was using an iphone. We jumped out of the car, each looking at our own devices, she went one way, I went the other. My Garmin is HIGHLY accurate.

 

She tried to put out some caches. She finally came back and asked me to get coordinates for her caches. You just can't get accurate coordinates with phones. If you plan on hiding caches, you need a GPS or a friend with a GPS. One of her caches was over 100 feet off.

 

So, things to consider:

1. Waterproofness, and general ability to damage the unit

Phones don't hold up well under rugged conditions

 

2. Battery life

My GPS will last all day and more, then I'll change the batteries and keep caching.I like to have my phone available if I need it. If I'm off caching and the thing goes dead, it not only stops my caching, but if I'm not near a charge, it also keeps me from being able to call for help if something goes wrong (I often get cell coverage in the woods, which is handy if something goes wrong).

 

3. Accuracy

There is no comparison. The GPS is much more accurate.

 

4. Able to function in the mountains with no cell service

Yeah, some apps you can store caches ahead of time. I'm not sure how many you can store. I'd be willing to bet my GPS will hold a lot more.

 

5. Ability to hide caches

If you plan on hiding caches yourself, you need to use a GPS. Phones are notoriously bad for taking coordinates.

 

6. Ability to program in coordinates for multi-caches

When you do a multi-cache you need to enter coordinates as you go. I'm not sure that phones have that ability. I know they didn't used to, but they may be able to do it now.

 

 

If you're just deciding whether geocaching is for you, then beginning with a phone is a good thing before you invest a lot of money.

 

I also use a phone to find coordinates for caches in areas I wasn't planning on caching in. Say, I travel out of town for something and end up there early, or for some reason find myself with time on my hands near caches I haven't found, and haven't loaded in my GPS. I always load the coords into my GPS because it's so much more accurate.

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I got my Magellan GC for $138.88 at Walmart.com about a month ago.Never been able to get pics or attributes to download with the pocket queries but it works when i don't have cell reception which happens alot in around here in s.e. oklahoma.I can always count on satellites but not cell towers. I'm still thinking of downloading a APP for my Motorola Quench tho if i can find it free.There's plenty of free GPS ones but the one for this site,geocaching, is $9.99 on the android market place.

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I got my Magellan GC for $138.88 at Walmart.com about a month ago.Never been able to get pics or attributes to download with the pocket queries but it works when i don't have cell reception which happens alot in around here in s.e. oklahoma.I can always count on satellites but not cell towers. I'm still thinking of downloading a APP for my Motorola Quench tho if i can find it free.There's plenty of free GPS ones but the one for this site,geocaching, is $9.99 on the android market place.

 

If you use VantagePoint software from Magellan it will load the pics & attributes from your pocket queries. What you do is open vantagepoint and towards the top right there is a button that you can download the pocket queries from geocaching.com. Then you "sync" or load the caches that are on your computer to your explorist GC and it will automatically load the attributes and the pics. If you need more help in doing this let me know.

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The GPS is MUCH better in terms of accuracy.

 

I remember the first time I went caching with a friend who was using an iphone. We jumped out of the car, each looking at our own devices, she went one way, I went the other. My Garmin is HIGHLY accurate.

 

She tried to put out some caches. She finally came back and asked me to get coordinates for her caches. You just can't get accurate coordinates with phones. If you plan on hiding caches, you need a GPS or a friend with a GPS. One of her caches was over 100 feet off.

 

So, things to consider:

1. Waterproofness, and general ability to damage the unit

Phones don't hold up well under rugged conditions

 

2. Battery life

My GPS will last all day and more, then I'll change the batteries and keep caching.I like to have my phone available if I need it. If I'm off caching and the thing goes dead, it not only stops my caching, but if I'm not near a charge, it also keeps me from being able to call for help if something goes wrong (I often get cell coverage in the woods, which is handy if something goes wrong).

 

3. Accuracy

There is no comparison. The GPS is much more accurate.

 

4. Able to function in the mountains with no cell service

Yeah, some apps you can store caches ahead of time. I'm not sure how many you can store. I'd be willing to bet my GPS will hold a lot more.

 

5. Ability to hide caches

If you plan on hiding caches yourself, you need to use a GPS. Phones are notoriously bad for taking coordinates.

 

6. Ability to program in coordinates for multi-caches

When you do a multi-cache you need to enter coordinates as you go. I'm not sure that phones have that ability. I know they didn't used to, but they may be able to do it now.

 

 

If you're just deciding whether geocaching is for you, then beginning with a phone is a good thing before you invest a lot of money.

 

I also use a phone to find coordinates for caches in areas I wasn't planning on caching in. Say, I travel out of town for something and end up there early, or for some reason find myself with time on my hands near caches I haven't found, and haven't loaded in my GPS. I always load the coords into my GPS because it's so much more accurate.

 

Agree with all of this except 4 & 6. With respect to ability to store caches,the storage capacity of most smart phones vastly exceeds the storage capacity of most GPSrs; with 32 gigs of space on my iPhone I shudder to think how many caches I could store on there. I've got thousands in my app right now and I'm not even aware of a limit. Point is, this is not a point in favor of GPSrs (or a point against them). With respect to 6, the official geocaching app supports entering multiple waypoints for multis/puzzles/etc and has for some time.

 

Both have their pros and cons. Phones give you satellite imagery and access to the cache photos (both are store when the cache is stored, so no network required), access to the full database of caches instantaneously with no pre-planning required (when in network), unlimited access to prior logs (when in network), logging ability (both cache logs and trackables logs) (whether in network or not), and, above all, convenience. GPSrs give you, when it boils down to it, battery life, durability, and above all, accuracy.

 

Which is best depends on the type of caching you're doing and, for that reason, many cachers who are really into it have both.

Edited by Team Van Dyk
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One thing nobody has mentioned: ease of use. After a lifetime of computer use and years of cellphone use, I found my Motorola Droid to be super user friendly.

 

I tried out a Magellan Explorist GC at Best Buy last week. It was vastly less user friendly, as was a Garmin I used occasionally when I first started caching (Garmin 72?). I think I'm spoiled by a keyboard and a touch screen...

 

Has anyone experienced issues with the thumbstick on the Explorist breaking or otherwise malfunctioning? My kneejerk reaction using it for the first time was it would be something prone to breaking (the thumbstick specifically, not the unit as a whole).

 

I remember the first time I went caching with a friend who was using an iphone. We jumped out of the car, each looking at our own devices, she went one way, I went the other. My Garmin is HIGHLY accurate.

 

What version of the iPhone was it? There's a world of accuracy difference between an iPhone 1-3 and an iPhone 3GS or 4.

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I have been using the Magellan Explorist GC for a year now and the only thing that has "broke" on me was the tiny little tab that is attached to the rubber cover for the USB port. What I mean is not the whole rubber cover but just the little pull tab on the rubber cover. I think it broke mostly to closing it when we go caching and opening it back up to plug the GPSr into our car (the car has a USB port built in) so I can power the GPSr without killing the batteries and having to turn it on and off a whole bunch.

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Douze - I am currently having this debate.. I already own the iPhone4 and have the purchased app. But my app slows way down after an hour or so of use. That is why I am considering buying a magellan explorist. But, it seems a lot like using my phone. How do you think they compare now??

 

Hey Feller - I feel like having BOTH devices is totally useful. I too get worried about my phone sometimes - dust, dropping it, etc - so actually having both is really nice - especially when i want to do some hard core caching. The app does draw the battery out - so then you have a 3/4 dead phone to deal with after an afternoon or so. I use the iphone when I'm in the city or random places where i didnt plan to cache - the option is ALWAYS there so that is nice. But when you are planning on going out - grabbing your Magellan and some cheap batteries is an awesome option. I still log most of my finds on my phone as i find it easier. I got my Magellan at half price too at Canadian Tire - they often have it on sale - and i have seen it on ebay for cheap too - just some thoughts. Enjoy your caching!

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I would give the Magellan Explorist high marks for geocaching. I used to have one before I forgot it on my back bumper and drove over it. It is not Ford F-150 proof! The Ford wins every time. I haven't had any direct experience with the iPhone 4 but have read numerous posts and articles about the unreliabiilty of the built-in GPS of any smart phone, not just the iPhone. They may work reasonably well for finding some caches but using a smart phone to hide a cache is a serious mistake. The coordintes are not realiable enough for that and anyone who comes behind with a real GPS looking for a cache at a specific location can be seriously misled and frustrated because the cache was not hidden with a GPS only device. In fact, Groundspeak ought to bring everyone up to date and remind them of the inherant advantages and disadvantages of smart phones for hiding caches. They are no doubt great for locating someone who has gotten themselves lost, has been injured and needs help or broken down on the road. Smart phones are certainly reliable enough for things like that, or for tracking where your kids are going when they leave the house, that is, until they go inside away from GPS coverage.

 

So please, use your iPhone 4 all you want to find caches. But don't get too frustrated. Break out your Magellan when you want to get serious and please, to not use your smart phone to hide a cache.

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I think it comes down to battery life and ruggedness. I've not seen a civilian GPSr that is significantly more accurate than an iPhone 4/4S so accuracy is not really the issue. The argument could be made that the iPhone could be more accurate in some urban environments because you have triangulation and (possibly) wifi to hone the location.

 

But battery life is a major issue. The iPhone will give you a 3 hours--at most--without a recharge. Most modern GPSr units will give you at least 12 solid hours of power...some significantly more that that.

 

Plus, the iPhone is not waterproof in any sense of the word. Nor is at all ruggedized for hiking trails and sweaty, dusty thumbs. My Garmin is great at this. Awesome, in fact. Built like an anvil.

 

That being said, I use my iPhone for 90% of my geocaching and mapping.

 

That's because my Garmin isn't ALWAYS in my pocket.

 

And none of the current Garmin products are loaded with my email, text messages, calendar, reminders, baseball scores, contact database, to do lists, RSS reader, bank account balances, bus schedule, currency converter, scanner, books, flight tracker, HD camera/video, truck starter and tire pressure checker, news alerts, games, YouTube, note taker, music files, alarm clock, Amazon, weather report, stock ticker, constellation map, movies, Wikipedia, podcasts, dictionary/thesaurus, Groupon, horoscope, twitter, facebook, Netflix, Craigslist, movie theater tickets, eBay, calorie counter, UPS shipment tracker, photo library, guitar tuner, calculator, language translator, and every other darn thing I need to get through a week....

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I have a Delorme Earthmate PN-60 which I think is great. I also have an iPod Touch 2nd gen with a GPSr attachment. The Delorme gets used most of the time when I'm caching, but the iPod is great for the "spur of the moment" caching. Also, the iPod can use the official Wherigo app, which as I understand, works better than what is built into the Garmins.

 

So my answer would be, buy a handheld GPSr for regular caching, keep the iPhone for the "spur of the moment" caching and Wherigos.

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The first GPS we bought was the Explorist ....and HATED IT because it doesn't have the 3axis compass.

 

The iphone has the 3axis features and once you get used to using it - you won't want to go back.

 

We sold the Explorist only 1 week after using it.

I upgraded to an Explorist GC recently because I was getting tired of having to carry two gadgets to do paperless caching. For some reason the default Map Orientation is set to Heading Up. This caused the entire map to swing wildly around on the GPS screen whenever I stopped walking. This map the map unusable for zeroing in on a cache. I changed the Map Orientation setting to North Up and the map stays in place now. It is now the direction arrow that swings wildly when I stand still but I can easily ignore that.

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I have both right now. In the city I still find myself pulling out the iphone. Maybe it is because it is what I started with. Kind of a comfort thing.

 

When I retrieve the cache on the phone I KNOW I have the most up to date logs.

 

More than once I left the house without actually putting the cache onto the Explorist! Dangit!

 

You do have to be careful with your iphone. I have put it in my pocket with pencils, TBs, and dirt in general. The phone does NOT take kindly to that. If you hear someone in the woods making small whining noises gently caresssing the dirt off his phone.. it is probably me.

 

I have solved many caches before even getting to them using google maps on the iphone. You can't do that with the explorist.

 

I use the logging feature in the explorist on and off. Sometimes field notes, some times I don't even bother. Being forced to pass over the comments in order to log it... ANNYOING! Entering any text using the little nubbin.. even MORE ANNOYING!

 

I am glad I have both. I wish I could rely solely on the Explorist.. but I don't see that happening. The iphone app is just too darn good at some things.

 

Shaun

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I use them both and think they complement each other nicely. Yesterday I was out in heavy pine cover and while I was using my Explorist GC primarily, I found that due to the interference from the trees the iPhone 4 had a more consistent reading - likely with help from the 3G network. The two work very well together and saved me a lot of bushwhacking.

 

To reduce the risk of damage to the phone, I purchased a Griffin Survivor armored case on eBay for $20 (retails for $50). Google it! Watch the video! It is well worth it. If you can trade the sexy styling of the iPhone 4 for an impenetrable fortress of a case it is a no-brainer. I must admit, every now and then I take it out of the case and get all "awwwwwwwww" about the phone because it really is a nice looking phone and the Survivor adds considerable bulk - but it makes it about as safe as it can be without actually leaving it at home. I have used it without hesitation in steady rain and snow. I have dropped it several times on rocks, concrete floors, etc. Take it out of the case and the phone is MINT.

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