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Jero & Imke

GPS vs phone caching

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Hi fellow cachers

I've been browsing the forums quite a bit now but i'm still a bit confused regarding the gps vs phone discussion

 

So far we've been caching with an android phone for a year now. It's easy, handy but on the other hand the gps signal doesn't always update fast enough to my liking and the battery life of my phone is obviously a disaster.

So we've been looking into buying a gps for caching.

On one hand people say "go for a gps, you'll never look back" on the other hand i see phrases like "a gps is like going back to the dark ages, i prefer my phone anytime"

 

so basically my questions are

- what does a gps handheld offer more than a phone does? (except battery life, i carry along an extra battery pack for my phone lately, is it worth the investment?

- should i decide to buy one, i was looking into the oregon 600 series, although it suffers from a lot of issues at the moment. is there a good alternative that has the same benefits as the oregon 600? (touch screen, good brightness, paperless, no camera needed, decent size, fast processor)

 

thanks in advance, i know there are probably a million posts out there going "HELP! what gps should i buy" :)

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The biggest advantages to using a GPS device are:

 

-You do not need a cellphone signal to load maps, and it will not use up any data to use

-Better accuracy, and faster at getting a signal and updating

-The GPS is more rugged, if you drop it into a mud puddle, just wash it off, and it will be fine (try doing that to a cellphone! :P)

 

I use both, my cellphone in the city, and my gps elsewhere. I own the eTrex 20. I love it. The only thing is that it doens't have a touch screen, but I like it better thay way. Might I recommend the Garmin Oregon series?

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In a nutshell --

I love my Delorme, but don't care too much for phones (but... I used to "hate" 'em).

My Boss, on the other hand, loves her iphone, but doesn't care too much for GPSr units.

 

My unit has been dropped probably close to 100 times on the grass, concrete, rocks and one dunking, I use it in the rain w/o concern and carry spare batteries.

She has not dropped her phone (yet), relies on my guidance in the rain and is known to scurry back for a battery charge.

 

I sometimes rely on her in locating caches that for some reason (read about it here in the forums) a Pocket Query fails to pick up on some caches. In that we reside outside of what most would call "civilization" -- hence many areas lacking phone signals -- she relies on my Pocket Queries and Delorme to find many caches (I do more planning and fiddling in preparation for outings). She has the phone for "spur of the moment" and unplanned caching.

I find the touch screen on the phone to be an absolute pain in the...

 

I suppose it all comes down to your "comfort zone", that device on which you prefer and feel most comfortable using.

 

Neither of us would even think of using the phone to place a hide. It will get us close enough to find a cache, but doesn't seem to display consistently good accuracy.

Edited by Gitchee-Gummee

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I'll summarize the hot-button topics:

Keep in mind, there's a wider range of technology under the term "smartphone" than there is under "dedicated GPS" (ref'd as handhelds below), so direct comparison is not possible, and comments like "handhelds are better than smartphones" (or vice versa) should be given no weight. Presume any time the "handhelds" or "smartphones" label is used below, it's referring in general to the class of device, and the 'average' across its spectrum.

 

1) General use

Handhelds - these are masters of one function (anything related to gps navigation)

Smartphones - jack of all trades, master of none (but mid-high end are darn good at them all)

 

2) Durability

* Accidents can always happen, regardless of inherent durability or preparation.

 

Handhelds - on average, handhelds are naturally more durable, so the durability is factored into the purchase price. They generally have the advantage because of that.

 

Smartphones - most smartphones (probably all) are not intended to be jostled around, or taken to precarious situations without extra care being taken. Add-ons can be purchased that increase its durability and/or water proofing, thus raise its cost to be on par with handhelds.

 

3) Accuracy

* When geocaching, no matter your device, having a precise accuracy on your own device is no guarantee that the cache will be found quicker or more easily. Beyond your control is whether the posted coordinates themselves are accurate, and all the factors that play into accurate coordinates, both under CO control and not. Regardless of device, it's best to arrive near GZ, and hone your geosense, using the provided description and/or hint when you're nearby.

 

Handhelds - on average, handhelds generally have better accuracy since they are, after all, dedicated GPS devices. They're more sensitive to satellite signal so can pick up whatever's left over after signals squeeze through heavy forest cover, for instance, and may be able to pick up more satellites from greater distances. They are still susceptible to weather concerns, though not as impacted as smartphones.

 

Smartphones - This is a significant area where brand and model absolutely count. In lower models, phones don't actually acquire satellite GPS signal - they use cell towers to triangulate and estimate the best location from there that it can. For iPhones, anything 3GS and up do have GPS satellite support. This means that their location abilities can be faster because they make use of triangulation and GPS; they can provide an estimated location by tower triangulation while they attempt to acquire satellites. The higher end smartphones with GPS and faster processors can also have a bit of a speed boost with triangulation and gps calculations. High end smartphone reception may still suffer slightly with weaker signals (under canopy, eg), but with a little bit more time accuracy can be just as good. Unless you're in a rush, it's not an issue. In practical use, as mentioned above, smartphone users with high end phones (iPhone 5+, latest Androids, etc) may report as good if not better capabilities than their handheld (though again, handheld make/model should be mentioned as well to be fair and precise)

 

4) Battery life

* Like durability, handhelds and smartphones are inherently different, since smartphones do much more than GPS reception and the physical technologies are more battery intense (screen/touch/cell/etc).

 

Smartphones - They will of course have a shorter inherent battery life, and so preparing with a battery add-on is recommended. External batteries do not have to be expensive. It'll boost the overall cost just a bit, but if you forgo a single-use battery (which requires an outlet to recharge before reusing) and buy an external AA addon (for example +$20), the benefit of sharing AA batteries and rechargeables with other devices makes battery life comparison a non-issue.

 

Handhelds - Naturally longer battery life. nuff said.

 

5) Price

* This is usually the deciding factor. Smartphones are more expensive. If you're only looking to geocache, a handheld may be more appropriate. But as a jack-of-all-trades, one must consider everything else gained by a smartphone purchase, if it's in the books. If you're getting a smartphone for geocaching, I would recommend not going below an iPhone 4S today, given their lowering price and capabilities. I can't speak for handheld price and capabilities, as I'm an exclusively iPhone geocacher.

 

Handheld - You get what you pay for: A dedicated GPS, of the range in the price you research and buy. For GPS capabilities, they are on average better in general abilities than smartphones, on average.

 

Smartphones - You get more when you pay more: It is, literally, a smart phone. If you put money into a good smartphone, you get a very, very smart phone. It's good at what it does, and it strives to rival dedicated handhelds in GPS technology. On the field, the mid-best models rival the better dedicated handhelds.

 

* It'll cost more, but you can have a smartphone equipped for durability and battery life to be equal to a durable handheld. In that context, a high end smartphone can be faster to locate in general environments, while a dedicated handheld will generally still get higher accuracy.

 

In a nutshell:

The best handheld will always best the best smartphone at GPS technology. That's why it's a dedicated GPS. High end smartphones inherently provide more than sufficient geocaching capability. Both handhelds and smartphones suffer drawbacks from external factors like weather and location, and typically smartphones will suffer more as they are not dedicated to GPS reception. Typically, the solution to the drawbacks is a little more patience and preparation when using a smartphone for geocaching.

 

Ultimately, get what is within your price range, and what you feel more comfortable with. Consider the area of the world in which you live, the type of weather or climate you regularly get, whether you're more urban (smartphones get an advantage) or rural (handhelds get an advantage), and how 'adventurous' you are (more preparation and cost for smartphones to be safe in more hazardous conditions).

 

Where I weigh in 1st hand:

I'm approaching 3000 finds, from across North America. I cache with Geosphere (highly recommended), I often take photos while caching, sometimes keep a GPS track log with a secondary app, and need to keep data/cell connectivity where available for email/communication.

I started caching in 2009 with a 3GS: Cached in multiple environments, including a desert where I was the sole GPS holder with a group of adventurous non-cachers. No cell signal, but GPS was unhindered. Cached all maps in the app before losing cell/wifi, prepared for a day completely cut off from civilization. Still one of my best caching trips ever. Later, dropped it in a pond, killed it.

 

I replaced it with a 3GS: Continued caching in multiple difficult environments. I had also given it a cheaper plastic backing for a bit more durability. Later, dropped it in a lake, learned from last time and let it dry properly - it continued to work flawlessly.

 

I upgraded to a 4S: Bought the AA external battery pack; took FAR better care with it; and have not purchased a casing. Extremely satisfied with GPS capabilities in multiple environments (and by that I mean under heavy canopy, in wilderness w/o cell, sailing over water, etc). I have dropped it - only the back shattered, but remains together (it's like a nice cracked-glass design skin!), all internal functions unaffected (even camera and led). --> This weekend I went river-tube-caching with it, prepared with a waterproof box (for multiple items). Accidents can ALWAYS happen! A leather key fob wedged in the hinge one time making it not water proof, and it carried ~1cm of water for a while; tilted, my phone was half dipped in it for who knows how long. Software/firmware still worked, but some physical features were malfunctioning. Let it dry, and things are mostly back to normal, but the screen and home button may never be up to snuff. All else - good to go.

I'll likely be upgrading to the next 5 at launch this fall anyway :P

 

Case in point: Smartphones are more durable than you think.

 

Also case in point: No matter how much preparation you do, regardless of inherent device protection, accidents can always happen.

(a durable/waterproof handheld can still become cracked and lose its proofing; on the flipside, a friend lost his gps years ago running from a wasp nest, and earlier this year it was found, still on, and still working, pointing to the cache)

Just remember: Is it worth paying through the nose for tip-top accuracy, when there's no guarantee posted coordinates themselves are accurate?

 

Just remember: A group of geocachers all with different brands/makes/models of GPS-capable devices can (and will) report different readings when in an area searching for GZ. It's kind of humorous. Especially if you're the one using geosense and standing on top of the cache watching everyone else head down wandering in circles reporting different distances.

This is not me saying that "smartphones are better". This is me saying that "handhelds are better than smartphones" is not conducive to informed decision-making. I personally don't care if anyone has a smartphone or a handheld. I just care that they know what they have, know its strengths and weaknesses, and are satisfied that their device is the best for their own caching habits. Also, that they know how to use it for best gps readings, especially if they are placing a cache.

 

My official recommendation - if price is of no concern - is that the best setup for geocaching is a combination of a high-end handheld (for absolute best GPS capability) and a hazard-prepared mid-high end smartphone for connectivity, tools, and secondary GPS verification.

 

Debates will continue to rage (especially in these forums) because everyone's experiences with various devices are different. Don't take one person's experience and presume it's the same for everyone or that it will be your experience (whether it's praise or hatred for smartphones or handhelds).

 

Thank you for your time. :P

 

PS, I think that was about the longest post I've made on this subject to date. :)

Edited by thebruce0

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Thanks a lot for the input so far on the matter (and yes, i've read ALL of it ;) )

Our thoughts were indeed that we would use the handheld for default caching, and probably the phone for backup.

Our biggest concern though is that the handheld might not bring all that new and fancy stuff to the table, and that, because of the steep learning curve, it will end up collecting dust again.

 

We too like to cache out in the wild where you do not always have data connectivity, which can be extremely annoying as we have experienced in northern norway last month. A handheld would problably shine there.

But as i said before, we're willing to invest in a proper handheld, but i'm just scared it will end up on the shelf cause it doesn't add more than a high end phone ...

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Try to rent a Etrex 20 or 30, or Oregon 450 like model.

Because caching with a smartphone is totally different and above all, back in time, compared to a dedicated Gps and it looks to me your gps will end up as a paperweight.

Also be aware there are apps that you can use OFFLINE, meaning the maps and caches are stored IN the smartphone, after you loaded the data with you own provider or wifi network.

Edited by splashy

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after some more research we purchased the gpsmap 62s

no touch screen, but easier to use with one hand, gloves on etc and hopefully no random crashes like the oregon 600 suffers from nowadays

 

hopefully we didn't make a wrong decision here :)

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after some more research we purchased the gpsmap 62s

no touch screen, but easier to use with one hand, gloves on etc and hopefully no random crashes like the oregon 600 suffers from nowadays

 

hopefully we didn't make a wrong decision here :)

 

Hi!

 

I'd be interested to hear how you've got on with your new purchase!

 

Thanks

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Ask yourself this...

 

...how much personal data can you afford to loose if you dunk/kill your phone in the field?

 

:unsure:

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Ask yourself this...

 

...how much personal data can you afford to loose if you dunk/kill your phone in the field?

 

:unsure:

Zero

 

I've both had my iPhone die from water damage, and fractured the glass screen. I lost zero data.

From the water damage-I lost no money.

From the fractured glass screen I lost $29.99

 

I lost NO data

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after some more research we purchased the gpsmap 62s

no touch screen, but easier to use with one hand, gloves on etc and hopefully no random crashes like the oregon 600 suffers from nowadays

 

hopefully we didn't make a wrong decision here :)

 

Hi!

 

I'd be interested to hear how you've got on with your new purchase!

 

Thanks

 

We just bought a third because the price was so good.....I've used a ton of GPS and IPhones in the field and it just doesn't get any better than the 62S.

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after some more research we purchased the gpsmap 62s

no touch screen, but easier to use with one hand, gloves on etc and hopefully no random crashes like the oregon 600 suffers from nowadays

 

hopefully we didn't make a wrong decision here :)

 

Hi!

 

I'd be interested to hear how you've got on with your new purchase!

 

Thanks

 

We just bought a third because the price was so good.....I've used a ton of GPS and IPhones in the field and it just doesn't get any better than the 62S.

 

Do you use a screen protector? I got a 62stc for Christmas, and I've read that the screen scratches easy. Is this true?

 

So far I have been blown away! I found a cache the first time using it yesterday. It was much better than a Delorme PN-30 or an iPad 2.

Edited by CEH2000

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Also, what's the maximum cache limit? Right now I have 500 to it and it seems fine. Is this ok?

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Ask yourself this...

 

...how much personal data can you afford to loose if you dunk/kill your phone in the field?

 

:unsure:

Zero

 

I've both had my iPhone die from water damage, and fractured the glass screen. I lost zero data.

From the water damage-I lost no money.

From the fractured glass screen I lost $29.99

 

I lost NO data

 

Same here, I won't lose any data either as my iPhone lives in one of these when I hit the trail..

 

http://www.otterbox.com/Pursuit-20-Dry-Box/otr-pursuits20,default,pd.html

 

pursuit-20-black-stuff.jpg

 

My $150 Garmin is water proof and shock proof...

 

...my $900 iPhone is not.

 

<_<

 

 

 

 

.

Edited by PigSti

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Ditto.

 

Though, I might suffer from data loss. And not related to geocaching. I'm currently 5S-less because I left it somewhere, and no one has yet found it. It may be sitting in a parking lot in a snow pile. If it is, and if it's found, I fully hope to dry it out properly and hopefully find it still working.

Even so, only a couple of things have data I can't get anywhere else (since I rarely back up my data; dumb)

Alas, none of this is relevant to geocaching. I've reverted to my old 4S - it's slower, heavier, old, and back-shattered, but it still work, and it still does what it's made to do.

 

Seriously, these things are tough.

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Any locator function requires the device being on. It was off the morning after I noticed it missing (stupidly, the moment I decided to try the location service) - both Apple and Rogers have the ability. No luck. And yes, backups, but nothing recent. Anyway, this is OT :P

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Advantages and disadvantages to both. My new Droid DNA however picks up more satellites indoors then does my Dakota 10 plus it has an electronic compass that is 3 axis. Went and looked for two caches today, pretty good accuracy too, equal to the handheld Dakota 10.

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Very interesting topic and one I've had first hand experience with recently. I've been caching since Feb with my Galaxy S2. Recently I got so fed up with it having an unreliable GPS signal that I arranged Santa to bring me a Garmin Montana 600. After a few days of playing with the Montana I've decided to return it and update my phone instead. I found it heavy and bulky. The touchscreen is awkward to use. The screen display and resolution is nowhere near as good as the phone and the OS map is not as detailed as my back country navigator app. I also find it awkward to download geocaches to the GPS.

 

With my phone - I carry an extra battery with me. I have an impact proof case for it and some of the new phones are waterproof to a degree.

I also feel less conspicuous walking about with a phone than a GPS device especially in urban environments.

 

So there you go. Having tried both, my vote goes to the smartphone.

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I've both had my iPhone die from water damage, and fractured the glass screen. I lost zero data.

From the water damage-I lost no money.

From the fractured glass screen I lost $29.99

 

I lost NO data

 

Ok, but you are not making it obvious to other posters is that you get your iPhones replacements for free no matter how many units you destroy in your caching efforts! So there is no cost to you, but only you!

 

I simply can't afford to risk my expensive non water proof/non shock proof iPhone just for geocaching! That's why the cheaper Etrex exists because it is designed just for the rough and tumble of geocaching, nothing more.

 

Unless Apple makes into the future a water/shook proofed iPhone for water sports/hiking then the purpose built eTrex will do. Also the only data on the etrx are map imgs that are computer backed up anyway.

 

When on the trails it's best to keep technology as simple and as dedicated as possible.

 

:)

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Whether I use my iPhone for caching or not-it's insured!! Just like most people. You'll be the first person I've heard of who would spend $900 on their iPhone (as you say) and NOT have protection on it.

 

Lol

 

As far as having the most "dedicated and simple" while on the trail? That's called a map and compass

 

For me I want the opposite of 'simple and can do only one thing' and that's my iPhone.

 

I've found quite a few using it...so somehow...it must be working!!

 

Even if I didn't have any replacement plan...a simple bumper would be enough. I've watched my phone tumble down cement stairs, tumble down a wet trail on tiger mountain, fall in the snow, fall out of my scrub pocket and slap the hard hospital floor, etc

 

They survive. Geocaching is the least harmful thing I do with my iPhone!!!

 

But back to your original point...no matter what, using basic common sense, and proper iPhone management....nobody should lose data. It takes a few mins every night for my iPhone to auto backup to the cloud. And a few hrs once a month to back up the whole thing to my computer.

 

No data loss. Even it you are foolish enough to not have a replacement plan.

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Previously I've stepped back off a boat ramp and into 4 foot of water only to realise that my iPhone was in my vest pocket, DOH!

 

The phone was dead as and so I learnt my lesson the hard way, once.

 

The eTrex replaces my iPhone on boat/hike trips. It's had quite a few swims and some accidental heavy knocks that would smash an iPhone and continues to function perfectly!

 

I'm sure a Porsche would be fine bashing along on a 4x4 mud track but why would you want to, unless you are an idiot!

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I'm sure a Porsche would be fine bashing along on a 4x4 mud track but why would you want to, unless you are an idiot!

Well, the question is, why would someone with a Porsche go bashing along on a 4x4 mud track in the first place?

 

On the contrary, I've had my iPhone over water, in the desert, climbing rocks, caving (even took my dslr caving a couple of times), I've had phones dipped in water 3 times and only lost 1 because I wasn't smart about recovering it, etc.

 

The point is, it's not black and white. You use whatever device you're comfortable using, in whatever conditions you're comfortable using it, using whatever degree of caution and safety you feel is sufficient for your own uses.

 

There's more danger to my device elsewhere than geocaching. My memory itself is my devices' worst enemy. :P And that wouldn't change whether it were my phone or a cheap GPSr.

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I'm sure a Porsche would be fine bashing along on a 4x4 mud track but why would you want to, unless you are an idiot!

Well, the question is, why would someone with a Porsche go bashing along on a 4x4 mud track in the first place?

 

..well yes, my point exactly! :)

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The point is, it's not black and white. You use whatever device you're comfortable using, in whatever conditions you're comfortable using it, using whatever degree of caution and safety you feel is sufficient for your own uses.

 

The idea of one device versus another is artificial just for this reason. I have dropped my handheld gpsr (Colorado) while hiking and ended up with a smashed screen (underneath its protector). My iphone is unscathed in its case after a drop or two from a similar height. You never know, but a degree of caution and safety is always a good thing.

 

There are many situations where I have been glad to have my Montana, but the iphone will always be in reach - the Montana does not have Hipstamatic, LongExpo, letterboxing apps, Navigon, or Geosphere. Although i would not use a Montana to do an earthcache, when we were overseas it usually picked up satellites much faster than the phone. Still, when it comes down to it, most devices these days will get you where you need to go, so perhaps it depends on what you want to do when you get there.

 

I often carry my Canon for any number of reasons, but the iphone can give me the picture I was seeking. It would be foolish to discuss the advantages of a dedicated camera versus iphoneography. I am not sure it makes any more sense in the context of this game. Use what makes you happy.

Edited by geodarts

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I'm sure a Porsche would be fine bashing along on a 4x4 mud track but why would you want to, unless you are an idiot!

Well, the question is, why would someone with a Porsche go bashing along on a 4x4 mud track in the first place?

 

..well yes, my point exactly! :)

 

A foolish analogy. As I doubt a Porsche could actually go "bashing" on a mud track. Think it could really keep up with a 4x4?

 

My iPhone, however? Is HAS worked for geocaching. It *can* keep up.

 

In the rain, in the clouds, in the mountains, in the trees....in fact.....it's worked in the rainy-foresty-mountains! All at once!

Micros, nanos--which everybody said I could just never do!

 

It works here, it works there....I've kayaked with it, been in the snow with it, been in the searing Az desert with, the Hawaiian rain forests with it...allllllllll while geocaching.

 

Oh gees. I've done it all with it.

 

 

Anything else? Lol.

 

It used to be much harder to point out the ridiculousness of the haters out there. Now, not so much...

:rolleyes:

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I sold my Garmin Oregon after I got my Android.

 

If you have enough money to buy a dedicated GPS and you are unhappy with your smartphone, why not just use that money to upgrade your phone?

 

You can't even compare the 2 technologies. I have a Samsung Note 2 and would never go back to a Garmin.

 

The only downside I can see of a phone is that it is not as rugged as a Garmin GPS. You can't drop it in a creek and expect it to be OK. I've got an Otterbox for my phone to protect against drops, but if I go out in the pouring rain, I must have a baggie around the phone or it would be destroyed.

 

Advantages of my phone over my old Garmin:

1) Can make calls/check email/connect to website to read logs

2) much bigger screen, much easier to read in sunlight

3) much longer battery life (6-8 hours with the phone vs 2-3 with the Garmin)

3) uses Locus Pro, which is an amazing app, can display proximity circles among many other things. a far more powerful app than the Garmin Oregon

4) much better resolution

5) can hold more caches. i've got 6000 on my phone so far and still haven't found a limit

6) accuracy- my phone picks up way more satellites than my Garmin ever did. i believe this must improve accuracy. i have placed and found many caches with no accuracy problems

Edited by The_Incredibles_

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The biggest advantages to using a GPS device are:

 

-You do not need a cellphone signal to load maps, and it will not use up any data to use

-Better accuracy, and faster at getting a signal and updating

 

I don't know why people are always stuff like this. You can load up your phone with maps and pocket queries at home just like with your Garmin so you DO NOT need a cellphone signal to cache. I have a vector map on my phone, which I downloaded from the internet. Just copied to my phone via the cable and boom it was there. Didn't need a satellite signal or spend hours downloading map tiles.

 

How is a GPS device more accurate? I can pick up 15 satellites with my phone, just sitting inside my living room.

Faster? Not necessarily. My Samsung Note 2 is plenty fast.

Edited by The_Incredibles_

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The only downside I can see of a phone is that it is not as rugged as a Garmin GPS. You can't drop it in a creek and expect it to be OK.

I can tell you right now that's wrong :P

Ok, well unless your focus is on expect. I suppose you can't expect it to be ok. BUT - dropping it in the creek doesn't mean you can expect it will be bricked, though (depending on how long you let it sit, presumably). You just need to be careful, and keep hopeful, as you attempt to get it back to working condition.

 

1st 3GS: Dropped in a pond from high above. Couldn't get to it fast, attempted to see if it would work as soon as I retrieved it. It glowed the logo a bit, but it was lost.

2nd 3GS: Dropped at my feet on the shoreline. Grabbed it up after a second or two, let it dry in the sun. Let it dry longer. Tested it a couple times, logo showed up. Eventually it came back to life.

4S: Got dipped in a waterproof container that didn't close properly (srsly, *sigh*) for who knows how long while tubing a long river. Let it dry a long time. Eventually came back to life.

 

What gets me about the last one - that was protection that failed (well, due to stupidity at least) - and could happen, really, to any protective casing. So "casing would have protected the device" doesn't fly there. Mistakes still happen. Unfortunately. Nonetheless, the 4S lived.

 

ETA: Oh and the glass back of my 4S shattered when it lept out of my pocket once and smashed to the concrete. It's still held together by the binding.

 

The front screen is fine.

Didn't phase the device at all, still functions perfectly.

(well, the home button is a little sticky from that tubing incident; just takes a little more pressure to register)

 

I say again - iPhones are freaking resilient devices! (If you're smart about reviving them)

Edited by thebruce0

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Pro GPS:

 

- More accurate

 

- Saves Battery on phone incase you need to make a emergency call

 

- Ability to go directly to a multi cache

 

Pro Smartphone:

 

- Only need to buy app ($11.55)

 

- Works fine with Traditional caches

Edited by TheHarleyRebels

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Pro GPS:

 

- More accurate

 

- Saves Battery on phone incase you need to make a emergency call

 

- Ability to go directly to a multi cache

 

Pro Smartphone:

 

- Only need to buy app ($11.55)

 

- Works fine with Traditional caches

 

On the other hand, I have compared my phone to the Montana while hiking through forested areas, in a city, or across a ridge. They generally are very close, often within three feet of each other. My phone handles multis as easily as my handheld. Perhaps easier. The app I use did not cost $11.55. And I have never had a problem with battery life with either as long as I bring either spare batteries (handheld) or a charger case (phone).

 

There are some situations where I have been glad to have my handheld, and some caches I would not have attempted without my phone. So like most tech choices. there is no right or wrong answer. Whatever gets you to where you want to be is probably a good choice.

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Interesting thread.

 

I have an iPhone (5s) but generally have used a GPS, and recently got an Oregon 600 that I love.

 

The main thing I like about the Oregon is the management of maps. I have multiple maps installed on there which I can turn on and off, including a custom map (kmz file) I created with help of a friend with a detailed topo map of my area. When I travel to different countries I have maps already loaded I can enable.

 

Maybe I could do that with my iPhone too; though I can't see how with the official Geocaching app I use.

 

The Oregon can hold unlimited caches (well 4 million it says..). I cached all day with a single set of batteries and if I need more it is just 2 AA batteries.

 

I'm not saying it is better, but for me I love it.

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- Works fine with Traditional caches

Well... it also works fine with multi-caches, just as does a dedicated GPSr.

 

I know, I know... the instructions with(?) the app don't address it, but the capability is there. The Groundspeak Help Center does tell you how to do it (at least... it does for Apple and Android phones, I guess DOZE phone users are on their own...)

Edited by Gitchee-Gummee

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Pro GPS:

 

- More accurate

 

- Saves Battery on phone incase you need to make a emergency call

 

- Ability to go directly to a multi cache

 

Pro Smartphone:

 

- Only need to buy app ($11.55)

 

- Works fine with Traditional caches

 

Why can't I go directly to a multi cache with my iphone? Honestly, I find it easier to enter a wpt in my iphone than I do on my Garmin.

 

Also, it works fine with ALL caches. Including wherigos.

 

My app cost $9.99

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I think one issue may be that people quickly equate smartphone with Groundspeak Geocaching app, like that's the only 'smartphone' experience they get, not realizing that that's simply one way for how you might geocache, and that that app may not actually be the best or easiest way to do it. That's not a "smartphone" (or iphone) problem - that just an app usability and feature issue. And, personally, that's why I don't use GS's app :ph34r:

 

Geosphere is far more powerful, and dare I say much more capable for geocaching than a typical GPSr, based on software features alone. The only real benefit select GPSrs have over Geosphere (at this point) is the ability to preload your own maps and map sets. I'm hoping someday Mark will program the ability to load custom map sets, though right now he's focusing on supporting public map APIs - the next addition being OpenMaps. But with map/terrain/satellite sets for Apple and Google, that's plenty already. The APIs automatically cache the most recently viewed map tiles so it can still work without any data signal (basically "preloading" the maps by scrolling around the area you'll be in)

Oh, and track logging - I suggested that long ago, but there's been no response about building that feature into the app yet :P

Otherwise, I believe anything else a GPSr can do, function-wise, Geosphere can also do. And more.

 

Front-end usability isn't a hardware thing. So don't judge the "iPhone" by the official Groundspeak app, just as one should not judge "smartphones" by "iPhone", or vice versa.

 

There are far too many factors involved in any technology or software comparison just by category these days.

 

Look for what works for you.

Look for what's affordable for you.

Take other people's opinions with a grain of salt (like movie reviews :P)

 

Pretty much any "average" piece of hardware (that is, what people wouldn't categorize as "cheap" or low-end consumer) will be more than sufficient with which to simply, actually, and successfully, go geocaching.

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I think one issue may be that people quickly equate smartphone with Groundspeak Geocaching app, like that's the only 'smartphone' experience they get, not realizing that that's simply one way for how you might geocache, and that that app may not actually be the best or easiest way to do it. That's not a "smartphone" (or iphone) problem - that just an app usability and feature issue. . . .

 

Geosphere is far more powerful, and dare I say much more capable for geocaching than a typical GPSr, based on software features alone. The only real benefit select GPSrs have over Geosphere (at this point) is the ability to preload your own maps and map sets.

 

It's hard to generalize because there are so many apps on different platforms. Before a recent trip without cellular data access, I downloaded a caching app that allowed user-created offline maps. I deleted it halfway through because the maps were slow and the app was cumbersome. It was much easier get the big picture using the internal maps in Geosphere and use the links (bookmarks) within the app to send the coordinates to offline maps in Navigon, Pocket Earth, or Gaia GPS. I don't need to have voice auto routing, trails, terrain, and other maps in the app as long as I can directly go to them from the cache page.

 

As far as I know, Geosphere will not project a waypoint like my handheld, but another app does this quite well (in addition to doing alphanumeric conversions, computing intersections, and a host of other functions). And even if I can do something within geosphere (such as take a photo), there may be better ways to do it.

 

The real point of comparison with handhelds, though, is not with the software but with the capabilities of the unit itself. When I had a 3Gs, I rarely used it as my primary caching device. I sometimes cached with it, but my friends with handhelds usually found the cache first. Other times I watched people walking away from the cache location using their 3Gs phones because there were being pointed hundreds of feet away. I generally used the phone for the software (geosphere's display and database) and found the cache with the dedicated gpsr.

 

This changed when I upgraded to the iphone 5. It gets me where I want to go in most situations. There are still times when the handheld might be the tool of choice. It came in handy when traveling to areas where the phone took a particularly long time to find satellites. I usually bring it on an all day hike into the back country - although pocket earth often does a better job mapping trails than Garmin's standard topo or the 24k maps on my gpsr. Sometimes I reach for the handheld because it seems faster or fun to do something that way. I like having it even if it is not my primary caching device. The Oregon 600 tempted me the other day, but so far I have resisted because I am not sure how much I would use it.

 

Unless it's a Chirp, the iphone 5 gets me to the cache. My handheld gpsr also gets me to the cache as long as it is not a photo-trail puzzle. Its nice to have options. I often use Geosphere as a mini-GSAK to filter and export gpx files to my handheld so I don't think of the phone as an either/or situation compared to a handheld.

Edited by geodarts

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