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Moun10Bike

Can a Smartphone Replace a Dedicated GPS?

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Here's a screenshot from my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. I took it for another thread, but thought it would be relevant here.

 

It picks up more satellites than my Garmin Oregon 550 ever did. The screenshot was taken *inside* my house.

 

And, as everybody knows, more is better.

 

 

Yes, that's right. With both my phone and GPS, I have noticed a correlation between the number of satellites I can pick up and the accuracy. If you take a look at the image shots again, you will see that.

 

For my phone picking up 18 satellites, it displays an accuracy of 3 meters.

 

For the Oregon 550 picking up 6 satellites, the accuracy displayed was 16 meters.

 

Ah, and we all know that the displayed accuracy is the real accuracy and there is no difference in that between devices, too.

 

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

 

And that the example pictures there were generally applicable. If you get 6 satellites, you only get 16 meters accuracy.

 

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

I'm surprised that fizzymagic doesn't know about GDOP and realize that if a unit can use the signal from more satellites it can reduce the effect of GDOP.

 

That said, the pictures of the phone and GPSr's don't really tell me if the phone is really using all those additional satellites it sees in this way. I'd really like to know what is the difference between the satellites the phone displays as squares and ones displayed as circles. And what to the colors mean. Some satellites are red, some are yellow. Could there be a third color green for those satellites the unit is actually getting data from?

 

And fizzymagic is right in that while the Estimated Posisition Error is calulated (from GDOP and some other values transmitted by the satellites), different units may apply an additional factor so that the numbers may or may not be directly comparable.

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I just did 2500 caches last week on and around the ET highway (completed all 2400 in 3 days :) ).

 

My iPhone 4S had zero cell signal 90% of the time, making use of only GPS satellites, as with the GPSrs.

 

Two other GPSrs and my iPhone all kept up with the car, with proper distance estimates as we hopped from cache to cache.

There was also a Blackberry, and it was also just as effective in keeping up with cache distances and readings.

 

Both GPSrs randomly turned themselves off periodically, for unknown reasons, even as they were in active use.

 

All devices recorded the find history cache by cache as we went. Only the smartphones could update their cache databases when back within cell data. Updating pre-loaded GPSrs via wifi and PQs was tedious, and they relied on us for the final count. (they didn't add non-ET series caches in their preloading, unfortunately, but that was a user choice not a device concern directly)

 

I left my phone plugged in for power most of the way, while carrying battery backups when needed. GPSrs replaced batteries a couple of times over the trip.

 

(for my part, this was also using Geosphere with map-only overhead waypoint view, no bearing/heading/distance display except when rarely needed, and often with blurred or no map tiles due to lack of data signal, using only cached map data)

 

Practical experience with 3 days in the Nevada desert and 2500 caches?

* Location effectiveness in the desert: GPSr & iPhone & Blackberry on par.

* Battery concerns: GPSr used a few sets of batteries, smartphones stayed plugged in. If smartphones were unplugged, they'd have used more batteries overall of course.

* Data/updating: iPhone & Blackberry outshone GPSr by far.

 

...remember this report is just ours, in the context of speed-caching on a powertrail in the desert, and doesn't speak for every possible environment, device, or user :P Just one feedback from the field.

If I get the precise device models, I'll add those to the report.

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Has anyone addressed the issue of entering coordinates by hand? The Geocaching iPhone app doesn't appear to allow for that, and the gps app I downloaded doesn't interpret the coordinates I've entered in the same way that Geocaching.com online does - leads me to a completely different place! I'm sure this is user error, but my Garmin works.

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Has anyone addressed the issue of entering coordinates by hand? The Geocaching iPhone app doesn't appear to allow for that, and the gps app I downloaded doesn't interpret the coordinates I've entered in the same way that Geocaching.com online does - leads me to a completely different place! I'm sure this is user error, but my Garmin works.

 

The full (purchased) Groundspeak app, as well as all other alternative caching apps, allow you to enter additional coordinates. Check the help page for more information about the Groundspeak app.

 

I don't know what other app you are using, but me sure that it is set for the WSG 84 datum using the degree-decimal-minutes format (dd MM.mmm).

Edited by geodarts

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I have two mobile phones (home, work) and I have geocaching apps on both. I find them both close to useless for actually finding caches compared to our Oregons.

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I started playing this game in 1999...

 

I find this interesting since it was my understanding that this hobby didnt come about till after May of 2000. So unless you were military, or some government agency, I will have to call BS on you playing this game since 1999.

Since this thread has been bumped and I never previously saw this response, I'll reply to it now:

 

Of course SirDonB is correct. I began playing this fun game in 2001 as it shows right over there <--

 

I'm not sure why I typed 1999 in that old post. I have to assume that it was a rewrite of a previous draft that went horribly wrong.

 

Still, the actual point of my earlier post is still 100% correct. The GPSrs that we used to play this game in the early years did a perfectly acceptable job. Current smartphones are significantly more accurate than those old GPSrs. Therefore, current smartphones are perfectly capable to use to play this game.

Edited by sbell111

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The GPSrs that we used to play this game in the early years did a perfectly acceptable job. Current smartphones are significantly more accurate than those old GPSrs. Therefore, current smartphones are perfectly capable to use to play this game.

 

The older GPSrs were fine if the cache was a fairly large container and there was a good hint. Devious hides and small containers rely on more accurate coordinates.

 

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

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The GPSrs that we used to play this game in the early years did a perfectly acceptable job. Current smartphones are significantly more accurate than those old GPSrs. Therefore, current smartphones are perfectly capable to use to play this game.

 

The older GPSrs were fine if the cache was a fairly large container and there was a good hint. Devious hides and small containers rely on more accurate coordinates.

Small caches and difficult hides are not new.

 

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

I'm thinking that if a person has difficulty using one device, then he should not use that device. If a person does not like vanilla ice cream, he should not order vanilla ice cream. That does not mean that vanilla is not a viable flavor of ice cream, however.

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I'm thinking that if a person has difficulty using one device, then he should not use that device. If a person does not like vanilla ice cream, he should not order vanilla ice cream. That does not mean that vanilla is not a viable flavor of ice cream, however.

 

If the ice cream is also melted and I can't put it in a cone, it's objectively poor at being ice cream.

 

By all means, enjoy the melted ice cream all you want, but don't be surprised when civilized ice cream eaters raise an eyebrow at the sticky, melted mess you've created.

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I'm thinking that if a person has difficulty using one device, then he should not use that device. If a person does not like vanilla ice cream, he should not order vanilla ice cream. That does not mean that vanilla is not a viable flavor of ice cream, however.

If the ice cream is also melted and I can't put it in a cone, it's objectively poor at being ice cream.

 

By all means, enjoy the melted ice cream all you want, but don't be surprised when civilized ice cream eaters raise an eyebrow at the sticky, melted mess you've created.

The ice cream melted because after you received it you held it in the sun instead of eating it, and it melted. You didn't use it right. :P

 

If you got the ice cream already melted, then it was being sold as ice cream when it was actually just cream. Go buy your ice cream elsewhere, or try a different brand of something marketed as ice cream, hoping it lives up to the vanilla-y, icy standard you prefer.

If something that is "vanilla ice cream" is sold to you, it can't objectively not be "vanilla ice cream", but something that isn't "vanilla ice cream" could be incorrectly marketed and sold to you as such.

So, if you get "vanilla ice cream", but you don't like it for whatever reason, that's not the vanilla ice cream's fault. It's either your preference, or something you did incorrectly that makes you think it's not or no longer vanilla ice cream.

If you get something that isn't "vanilla ice cream", then you didn't get vanilla ice cream. Vanilla ice cream is vanilla ice cream.

 

Smartphones are GPS capable devices. They objectively have the ability to be used as GPS devices and can be successfully used for geocaching, both finding and placing (as plenty will report first-hand, including myself). If it doesn't work for you, then either you just don't like the device experience, or you got a smartphone that doesn't objectively have the capability to a standard you prefer... or, God forbid, you were sold something under the wrong impression (shame on them).

Either way, many will recommend a smartphone tool that is objectively more than sufficient to geocache successfully - if preferred, and if used properly. If you don't like it, that's perfectly fine. Use what you like. But you can't say "smartphones are not good for geocaching" (not that you specifically said that).

 

You said:

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

And that's fine. But without knowing how you've used those devices or what models they were, we can say that you either a] weren't using them right, or b] your preference is not in favour of smartphones for finding, let alone hiding. Maybe c] the model you used was objectively below the technical standard you prefer.

That doesn't mean "smartphones" are incapable of geocaching successfully. I believe you are intelligent, so I think it's more a matter of than [a] ;) and if it's [c], I highly recommend you upgrade, then determine if it's still over [a].

:)

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Smartphones are GPS capable devices. They objectively have the ability to be used as GPS devices and can be successfully used for geocaching, both finding and placing (as plenty will report first-hand, including myself). If it doesn't work for you, then either you just don't like the device experience, or you got a smartphone that doesn't objectively have the capability to a standard you prefer... or, God forbid, you were sold something under the wrong impression (shame on them).

Either way, many will recommend a smartphone tool that is objectively more than sufficient to geocache successfully - if preferred, and if used properly. If you don't like it, that's perfectly fine. Use what you like. But you can't say "smartphones are not good for geocaching" (not that you specifically said that).

 

You said:

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

And that's fine. But without knowing how you've used those devices or what models they were, we can say that you either a] weren't using them right, or b] your preference is not in favour of smartphones for finding, let alone hiding. Maybe c] the model you used was objectively below the technical standard you prefer.

That doesn't mean "smartphones" are incapable of geocaching successfully. I believe you are intelligent, so I think it's more a matter of than [a] ;) and if it's [c], I highly recommend you upgrade, then determine if it's still over [a].

:)

 

I have a Galaxy S3 and an iPhone 5s. I did not acquire either of them to be replacements for my Oregon 450.

 

The GPS in both phones works well enough to use for navigating streets or highways, but they are both maddeningly inaccurate on the ground while geocaching. This is true of both, and it is true for the different apps I have tried (including Groundspeak's own app). They simply cannot compete with the Oregon for accuracy. Out in the field, it is almost comical how bad they are compared to the Oregon.

 

Finding a cache with them is a nuisance. Placing a cache with them would be ridiculous.

Edited by narcissa

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Howdy......

My phone is not very accurate.

I prefer my Oregon 450 or the GPSMAP 62s. I use one or the other......

 

Vern / Foothills Drifter...

 

Smartphones are GPS capable devices. They objectively have the ability to be used as GPS devices and can be successfully used for geocaching, both finding and placing (as plenty will report first-hand, including myself). If it doesn't work for you, then either you just don't like the device experience, or you got a smartphone that doesn't objectively have the capability to a standard you prefer... or, God forbid, you were sold something under the wrong impression (shame on them).

Either way, many will recommend a smartphone tool that is objectively more than sufficient to geocache successfully - if preferred, and if used properly. If you don't like it, that's perfectly fine. Use what you like. But you can't say "smartphones are not good for geocaching" (not that you specifically said that).

 

You said:

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

And that's fine. But without knowing how you've used those devices or what models they were, we can say that you either a] weren't using them right, or b] your preference is not in favour of smartphones for finding, let alone hiding. Maybe c] the model you used was objectively below the technical standard you prefer.

That doesn't mean "smartphones" are incapable of geocaching successfully. I believe you are intelligent, so I think it's more a matter of than [a] ;) and if it's [c], I highly recommend you upgrade, then determine if it's still over [a].

:)

 

I have a Galaxy S3 and an iPhone 5s. I did not acquire either of them to be replacements for my Oregon 450.

 

The GPS in both phones works well enough to use for navigating streets or highways, but they are both maddeningly inaccurate on the ground while geocaching. This is true of both, and it is true for the different apps I have tried (including Groundspeak's own app). They simply cannot compete with the Oregon for accuracy. Out in the field, it is almost comical how bad they are compared to the Oregon.

 

Finding a cache with them is a nuisance. Placing a cache with them would be ridiculous.

Edited by Foothills Drifter

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Smartphones are GPS capable devices. They objectively have the ability to be used as GPS devices and can be successfully used for geocaching, both finding and placing (as plenty will report first-hand, including myself). If it doesn't work for you, then either you just don't like the device experience, or you got a smartphone that doesn't objectively have the capability to a standard you prefer... or, God forbid, you were sold something under the wrong impression (shame on them).

Either way, many will recommend a smartphone tool that is objectively more than sufficient to geocache successfully - if preferred, and if used properly. If you don't like it, that's perfectly fine. Use what you like. But you can't say "smartphones are not good for geocaching" (not that you specifically said that).

 

You said:

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

And that's fine. But without knowing how you've used those devices or what models they were, we can say that you either a] weren't using them right, or b] your preference is not in favour of smartphones for finding, let alone hiding. Maybe c] the model you used was objectively below the technical standard you prefer.

That doesn't mean "smartphones" are incapable of geocaching successfully. I believe you are intelligent, so I think it's more a matter of than [a] ;) and if it's [c], I highly recommend you upgrade, then determine if it's still over [a].

:)

 

I have a Galaxy S3 and an iPhone 5s. I did not acquire either of them to be replacements for my Oregon 450.

 

The GPS in both phones works well enough to use for navigating streets or highways, but they are both maddeningly inaccurate on the ground while geocaching. This is true of both, and it is true for the different apps I have tried (including Groundspeak's own app). They simply cannot compete with the Oregon for accuracy. Out in the field, it is almost comical how bad they are compared to the Oregon.

 

Finding a cache with them is a nuisance. Placing a cache with them would be ridiculous.

I think that we have basically closed circle on this old thread. We are back to here:

 

I think that people's definition of 'good' coordinates can be unrealistic for the game.

 

I started playing this game in [2001] with a Garmin GPS 3+. It was a fine GPSr, for it's time. It worked perfectly well to both find caches and place them. I've since owned many other GPSrs, but that 3+ would still work to hide a cache, if it were still alive. Sure, new models get somewhat better accuracy, but the 3+ was always 'good enough'.

 

My iPhone is a far better GPSr than the 3+ ever was. Therefore, I have to conclude that the iPhone is 'good enough' to hide a cache.

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Smartphones are GPS capable devices. They objectively have the ability to be used as GPS devices and can be successfully used for geocaching, both finding and placing (as plenty will report first-hand, including myself). If it doesn't work for you, then either you just don't like the device experience, or you got a smartphone that doesn't objectively have the capability to a standard you prefer... or, God forbid, you were sold something under the wrong impression (shame on them).

Either way, many will recommend a smartphone tool that is objectively more than sufficient to geocache successfully - if preferred, and if used properly. If you don't like it, that's perfectly fine. Use what you like. But you can't say "smartphones are not good for geocaching" (not that you specifically said that).

 

You said:

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

And that's fine. But without knowing how you've used those devices or what models they were, we can say that you either a] weren't using them right, or b] your preference is not in favour of smartphones for finding, let alone hiding. Maybe c] the model you used was objectively below the technical standard you prefer.

That doesn't mean "smartphones" are incapable of geocaching successfully. I believe you are intelligent, so I think it's more a matter of (b] than [a] ;) and if it's [c], I highly recommend you upgrade, then determine if it's still over [a].

:)

 

I have a Galaxy S3 and an iPhone 5s. I did not acquire either of them to be replacements for my Oregon 450.

 

The GPS in both phones works well enough to use for navigating streets or highways, but they are both maddeningly inaccurate on the ground while geocaching. This is true of both, and it is true for the different apps I have tried (including Groundspeak's own app). They simply cannot compete with the Oregon for accuracy. Out in the field, it is almost comical how bad they are compared to the Oregon.

 

Finding a cache with them is a nuisance. Placing a cache with them would be ridiculous.

 

You are blatantly wrong with that statement. Rather, they are simply not accurate enough for your tastes.

I ONLY cache with my 5S. I'm now over 6000 finds, in most every environment you can imagine, including heavy forest cover, and remote desert (and that was with a 3GS!). Yes, the 5S is most definitely sufficient for both finding and hiding geocaches. You fail to consider other factors that can be compensated for. If you don't want to have to compensate, that's fine. But do not spread the falsehood that the 5S (or, which I can't speak from personal experience, other smartphone brands or models) are universally insufficient. The proof is in the pudding - 1st hand experience, regardless of subjective opinion based on personal preference. You also cannot blame hardware for failures of software/app experience (especially Groundspeak's own iOS/Android apps, which I personally do not vouch for).

 

You can recommend against using smartphones, you can explain why you don't like them, you have every right to an opinion and to prefer dedicated handhelds.

But the facts are that recent models of iPhone and Android-branded smartphones can and do have sufficient GPS technology to be used for successful, and accurate, geocache hiding and finding; even rivaling many handheld models for speed and accuracy.

Edited by thebruce0

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you can explain why you don't like them

 

Yes. The reason I don't like them is that they are, again, maddeningly inaccurate on the ground to a degree that would be hilarious if it wasn't so alarming. I'm certainly glad I thought better of the smartphone geocaching trend and wasn't led down that particular rabbit-hole.

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Good then.

 

I find them extremely accurate when I use them properly with the apps I've determined to be best, and the 3GS, 4S, and 5S have only been good to me since 2009 based on my usage, and I would definitely recommend them to people who will spend the time to know how to use them, who like them, already have one, or would prefer to spend their money on a multi-purpose device that includes the ability to go geocaching and have a great, successful time.

 

I also recommend people to choose a dedicated gps device if that's what they really want. And though I can't speak first hand for them, I know that the high end models are certainly capable, and would hope they continue to be more capable, since they are dedicated to GPS technology.

 

Use what you like, and use what's best for you. Understand their strengths and weaknesses, because most any gps-capable device on the market today is technologically more than sufficient for successful geocache finding and hiding.

Edited by thebruce0

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you can explain why you don't like them

 

Yes. The reason I don't like them is that they are, again, maddeningly inaccurate on the ground to a degree that would be hilarious if it wasn't so alarming. I'm certainly glad I thought better of the smartphone geocaching trend and wasn't led down that particular rabbit-hole.

 

I wish that when people are discussing smartphones vs dedicated GPSrs, they would discuss specific makes and models, rather than making broad-sweeping generalizations.

 

I also wish that people who have no experience with smartphone caching would hold back their opinions. I went to an event not long ago where someone who is very intelligent otherwise stood up and said 'never use a smartphone to hide a cache'. Sorry, depends on the smartphone. I cache exclusively by smartphone now and have hide many caches using it without issue.

 

I recently found 70 caches in one day with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The other 2 people I was with had Garmin Oregons. I didn't notice them having an easier time getting to GZ. There was no discernible difference whatsoever between the performance of our devices. They all got the job done.

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I wish that when people are discussing smartphones vs dedicated GPSrs, they would discuss specific makes and models, rather than making broad-sweeping generalizations.

 

I wish that people would read a little bit further up the thread and see previous mentions of specific models.

 

I also wish that the GPS functions in both of my smartphones (Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5s, for those hard-of-hearing at the back) were not hysterically bad, but at least I'm not stuck geocaching with either of them.

 

Thankfully, it's not much of an issue around here. The hard-core cachers around here mostly seem to use proper devices, and they are quick to provide correct coordinates for new caches placed by n00bs with phones.

Edited by narcissa

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I'm guessing it's a user-problem. :unsure:

 

Well, it's a user problem in that using a smartphone to hide a geocache is a poor decision, but it's one that is easily mitigated by getting a friend with a proper device to correct the coordinates.

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I HAVE HIDDEN MANY CACHES WITH MY GALAXY NOTE 2 AND NEVER HAD A COMPLAINT ABOUT ACCURACY.

 

Okay. Sorry about your caps lock.

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Sorry for shouting, but it gets pretty frustrating not being heard.

 

Some stats of interest:

 

In the past year, using my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, I have:

 

  • Found over 600 geocaches
  • Hidden 15 geocaches
  • 2 of these geocaches were events. 1 of these events had 61 people attending and I took 49 waypoints for the event

 

No complaints about accuracy. In fact, I've had people compliment me on the reliability of my coords.

 

While I understand that some smartphones may not be accurate enough for geocaching, the fact remains that many are.

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While I understand that some smartphones may not be accurate enough for geocaching, the fact remains that many are.

 

Oh, I fully understand that there are people out there, caching their little hearts out with these devices. Heck, I known someone who still caches with a Garmin Geko. Where there's a will, there's a way, I suppose.

 

But I just prefer having a good GPS.

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But I just prefer having a good GPS.

so close... so close...

 

As opposed to caching with the iPhone, when I say "so far... so far..."

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FWIW - I use my iPhone 5S to get me close and even make some finds, but for small caches I usually switch to my 62st to reduce the bee dance and make the find. I've learned not to leave the 62st at home. YMMV.

 

My Otter Box case helps protect my iPhone, but I would never treat it as cavalierly as I do my Garmin.

 

I don't have them for side-by-side comparison but it 'seems like' my Motorola Atrix4G (Android) was more accurate than this iPhone 5S, and my Garmin 60csx was 'more better' than this 62st.

Edited by TheAlabamaRambler

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I HAVE HIDDEN MANY CACHES WITH MY GALAXY NOTE 2 AND NEVER HAD A COMPLAINT ABOUT ACCURACY.

 

Okay. Sorry about your caps lock.

 

laughing.gif

 

I agree with narcissa about poor coordinates by a lot of beginner hiders who use a smartphone to get their coordinates. They probably just looking at the coordinates on their app and post that number (no multiple readings, no averaging, no use of an app designed to get better coords).

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How do you know that your receiver is accurate or not? If your gps receiver (either a dedicated gps or a smartphone) does not exactly point to the location where a geocache is supposed to be, it does not necessarily mean your gps is wrong. It could also be that the location of the geocache was poorly measured. And that could have happened with either a dedicated gps or a smartphone. So the accuracy of the location of a geocache is not necessarily the benchmark of the accuracy of your gps-r.

Besides, many very old geocaches have been measured with very old gps receivers with old technology.

 

For those who complain about smartphones, I welcome every link to a substantial test with a controlled and equal circumstances and decent benchmarks.

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For those who complain about smartphones, I welcome every link to a substantial test with a controlled and equal circumstances and decent benchmarks.

There is a very real tendency for cachers to believe that whatever GPS / phone they have is accurate. If they didn't believe that they probably would get another.

 

I wonder how many actually do any testing?

 

One of the more interesting things we used to do at events was to have a cacher who is or knows a professional surveyor hide a nail or spike in the ground at the site before the event using their high-dollar and presumably accurate equipment. Only the host knows exactly where it is.

 

On the day of the event everyone is given a numbered flag and told to place it near ground zero. The closest wins a prize. You would be amazed how far off some of the initial flags will be. Of the first ten or so flags you might see 50' or more separation. As more flags are added they begin to cluster in a smaller area, not because people's GPS are more accurate but because monkey-see monkey-do. I used to have a reputation for FTF, for being the first in a group to find the cache, so if I placed my flag early folks would cluster around my flag. I have tested this by intentionally placing my flag a good way from GZ. Pretty soon my flag would be surrounded by others. People are funny.

 

Try this... mark a spot in your front yard or a nearby place. Each morning before work and each evening when you get home use your GPS to navigate to GZ and drop another marker. This only works if you honestly follow the GPS, since you already know where GZ is you can't let that knowledge influence you. By the end of the week you will be amazed by how many different locations your GPS took you to, and how far apart they are. You might invite a friend who caches with a different type of device to participate, to see the difference between your hand-held and a smartphone. The same GPS will rarely put you in the same place twice.

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For those who complain about smartphones, I welcome every link to a substantial test with a controlled and equal circumstances and decent benchmarks.

There is a very real tendency for cachers to believe that whatever GPS / phone they have is accurate. If they didn't believe that they probably would get another.

 

I wonder how many actually do any testing?

 

One of the more interesting things we used to do at events was to have a cacher who is or knows a professional surveyor hide a nail or spike in the ground at the site before the event using their high-dollar and presumably accurate equipment. Only the host knows exactly where it is.

 

On the day of the event everyone is given a numbered flag and told to place it near ground zero. The closest wins a prize. You would be amazed how far off some of the initial flags will be. Of the first ten or so flags you might see 50' or more separation. As more flags are added they begin to cluster in a smaller area, not because people's GPS are more accurate but because monkey-see monkey-do. I used to have a reputation for FTF, for being the first in a group to find the cache, so if I placed my flag early folks would cluster around my flag. I have tested this by intentionally placing my flag a good way from GZ. Pretty soon my flag would be surrounded by others. People are funny.

 

Try this... mark a spot in your front yard or a nearby place. Each morning before work and each evening when you get home use your GPS to navigate to GZ and drop another marker. This only works if you honestly follow the GPS, since you already know where GZ is you can't let that knowledge influence you. By the end of the week you will be amazed by how many different locations your GPS took you to, and how far apart they are. You might invite a friend who caches with a different type of device to participate, to see the difference between your hand-held and a smartphone. The same GPS will rarely put you in the same place twice.

You snipped away the very most important part of that post:

Besides, many very old geocaches have been measured with very old gps receivers with old technology.

That bit right there explains why smartphones are perfectly fine for geocaching. If ol' yeller is good enough to play the game, so is my iphone.

Edited by sbell111

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...

You snipped away the very most important part of that post:

Besides, many very old geocaches have been measured with very old gps receivers with old technology.

That bit right there explains why smartphones are perfectly fine for geocaching. If ol' yeller is good enough to play the game, so is my iphone.

True, but there's nothing you can do about that. All you can do is try to understand your own GPS.

 

I found my first 600+ caches with an eTrex Yellow I ordered from the 2003 Marlboro catalog... $25 bucks and a bushel of coupons. I would print out a stack of listings for target caches and head out, following the arrow (no maps) to whatever cache was next closest. Ah, the good ol' days. I swear that the original eTrex was just as accurate as the iPhone 5s and Garmin 62st I use today. Wish I still had it but I put it in a cache as swag when I bought a Magellan Meridian Gold. I've had six or seven GPS since then and all they add is efficiency and features, they don't seem to be any more accurate than the ones they replace. I have several caches that are archived but still in place, two of which were hidden in 2004. Sometimes when I have guests at my lake place I show them how to use the iPhone GPS to find them. After ten years and multiple releases of new GPS technology the iPhone takes them right to where ol' yeller told them it is (original coords).

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I've started geocaching couple years ago with a Samsung Galaxy Gio (3-4 years old), had a rough time getting a good GPS signal most of the time, but just passed 200 finds. My wife and I just finished our cell contracts so I was really curious if a new phone or if all phones were equal in regards to GPS and having a really hard time finding any definitive reviews.

 

This weekend I got to do a rough test with GPS Test app with no wifi between a Gio and a newer S4 mini and got a signal on the newer phone within a couple minutes of turning them on and with a really nice accuracy. Unfortunately I didn't get to actually cache with it, but it certainly looks promising, the older Gio failed the test miserably and really excited me to get my new S4 mini. I always thought about getting a dedicated GPS; but I like the fact the phone is an all in one gadget, I have gotten a solar powered back-up battery and a dry bag.

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Finding a technical comparison between brand models will be next to impossible, beyond comparing individuals' personal experiences. There are a few technological GPS implementations in use for smartphones, so it's better to know what technology your phone uses, and do some research on those technologies. There might be a bit of variation between certain models' implementations of the technology, but generally speaking the comparison should be on the GPS technology in use rather than the smartphone model itself.

 

Most smartphones released now will make use of A-GPS, which is a method smartphones can use (and not handhelds) to speed up location services by using cell tower triangulation. These days, new smartphones with A-GPS also have GPS receivers, so A-GPS boosts the initial location performance, since cell tower triangulation is faster (but less accurate) than locking on to satellites and calculating estimated locations.

 

In simplest terms, these days, you could consider that a 'cell phone' doesn't have any of the above. Any current smartphone will have A-GPS (possibly without a GPS receiver). Most smartphone models will also have a GPS receiver, enhanced by A-GPS when possible. Newer smartphone models also have GLONASS support. Many smartphone models also have Wifi positioning capabilities. All of these non-GPS technologies are less accurate than GPS, but help speed up device locating.

As for actual GPS location, any number of factors could play into how well any particular device fairs. Aside from environmental conditions, a device's antenna needs to find and lock on to any satellite it can 'see', the CPU needs to calculate precision using whatever data it can receive from however many satellites it can see, and weaker CPUs may be slower than more powerful CPUs (ie, older vs newer smartphones), or could be limited by sensitive the device's satellite reception is.

 

If you're concerned at that level of precision, then you really can only rely on individual reports. Otherwise, it's a perfectly safe bet, these days, that if you go with an upper end smartphone of most nay brand, as far as I know, the device's hardware is certainly sufficient for most any GPS activity, including geocaching, even under most any environment; certainly on part with the average (and in some cases, above average) handheld.

 

And, if you get the best smartphone on the market, chances are your device will fair better, GPS technologically speaking, than most dedicated handhelds.

(none of this takes into account learning curve, understanding your device, software, or user experience - just on the basis of pure technological capability)

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Smartphones are GPS capable devices. They objectively have the ability to be used as GPS devices and can be successfully used for geocaching, both finding and placing (as plenty will report first-hand, including myself). If it doesn't work for you, then either you just don't like the device experience, or you got a smartphone that doesn't objectively have the capability to a standard you prefer... or, God forbid, you were sold something under the wrong impression (shame on them).

Either way, many will recommend a smartphone tool that is objectively more than sufficient to geocache successfully - if preferred, and if used properly. If you don't like it, that's perfectly fine. Use what you like. But you can't say "smartphones are not good for geocaching" (not that you specifically said that).

 

You said:

I find both my iPhone and my Android to be totally maddening for *finding* a cache and I can't imagine trying to *hide* a cache with either of them.

And that's fine. But without knowing how you've used those devices or what models they were, we can say that you either a] weren't using them right, or b] your preference is not in favour of smartphones for finding, let alone hiding. Maybe c] the model you used was objectively below the technical standard you prefer.

That doesn't mean "smartphones" are incapable of geocaching successfully. I believe you are intelligent, so I think it's more a matter of (b] than [a] ;) and if it's [c], I highly recommend you upgrade, then determine if it's still over [a].

:)

 

I have a Galaxy S3 and an iPhone 5s. I did not acquire either of them to be replacements for my Oregon 450.

 

The GPS in both phones works well enough to use for navigating streets or highways, but they are both maddeningly inaccurate on the ground while geocaching. This is true of both, and it is true for the different apps I have tried (including Groundspeak's own app). They simply cannot compete with the Oregon for accuracy. Out in the field, it is almost comical how bad they are compared to the Oregon.

 

Finding a cache with them is a nuisance. Placing a cache with them would be ridiculous.

 

You are blatantly wrong with that statement. Rather, they are simply not accurate enough for your tastes.

I ONLY cache with my 5S. I'm now over 6000 finds, in most every environment you can imagine, including heavy forest cover, and remote desert (and that was with a 3GS!). Yes, the 5S is most definitely sufficient for both finding and hiding geocaches. You fail to consider other factors that can be compensated for. If you don't want to have to compensate, that's fine. But do not spread the falsehood that the 5S (or, which I can't speak from personal experience, other smartphone brands or models) are universally insufficient. The proof is in the pudding - 1st hand experience, regardless of subjective opinion based on personal preference. You also cannot blame hardware for failures of software/app experience (especially Groundspeak's own iOS/Android apps, which I personally do not vouch for).

 

You can recommend against using smartphones, you can explain why you don't like them, you have every right to an opinion and to prefer dedicated handhelds.

But the facts are that recent models of iPhone and Android-branded smartphones can and do have sufficient GPS technology to be used for successful, and accurate, geocache hiding and finding; even rivaling many handheld models for speed and accuracy.

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I have the iPhone 5s and was just introduced to using it for Geocache and I'm 4 out of 4 on finding them... walked right up to them with my iPhone... thought this thread might give me an idea on how to place one since I purchased the Premium Membership via my iPhone (It said I had to be a premium member to place one so I upgraded) but what I noticed after doing it that it won't "mark" the spot I want to place one. :( Anyway, logged in here thinking someone with a smart phone could give me a suggestion on an iPhone app that is simple and will mark the GPS coordinates so I can place one as well...... yes I know I should find 16 more as recommended but my friend has been doing it for years and said I can do it.. even if I need to call her prior to placement. Bottom line, any suggestions on a simple GPS App for the iPhone 5s or soon to be iPhone 6? BTW, I would like to say I have Verizon for my Cell Coverage (tried all the rest, lots of dropped calls) and given how the conversation in this thread has been going I wondered if the "carrier" may be part of the issue... anyway, enough said about that just thought it could be a carrier issue and wanted to mention that as a possibility. Thank you for anyone who has a suggestion for me... Here in Oregon BTW!

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GPS architecture in your phone is independent of your carrier. You do not need to be a premium member to hide a cache. Use an app like Perfect Mark or Maverick or some other coordinate averaging app to determine coordinates for placing a cache.

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I was pretty slow getting into the smartphone game. Got one a little less than a year ago. This past summer I went west adding counties to my finds. The biggest problem I encountered was lack of cell service for extended distances. A few times I was afraid I would completely travel through a county without seeing a cache show up. The compass function on my phone (Galaxy S4 Active) is really poor and does cause some frustration from time to time. That said, I rarely use a dedicated GPS anymore. The ability to log the find from the cache site really improves the experience for me. Not to mention spending days creating pocket queries and data bases for my geocaching vacations. My answer to your question is "YES".

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Bringing this over from another thread, to the more relevant discussion here... (and yeah, drudging up the 16mo old thread :laughing:)

 

Phones are IMO (perhaps) acceptable in an urban environment, but they soon become a hindrance off road, or in inclement weather. Every now and again I'll try using my phone and usually put it away with a frustrated head shake after a short time for the same long list of annoyances and deficiencies.

Ironically, you just did what you're asking jpadc not to do :P

I was agreeing with your points right up until one part - the urban/offroad/weather misnomers once again. Years ago, they would have been bigger issues. Smartphone GPS today is much much better, with recent phone brands rivaling even the best dedicated gps devices. Dedicated GPSrs should ideally always be better devices since they are, well, dedicated to gps technology. But it's quite common that someone who's only experience with a phone is an older or less capable phone, and having used a very capable dedicated GPSr, will presume that all phones are as bad or worse than the one they have experience with. That's not the case.

I think you may have jumped to a conclusion. I don't believe I generalized, I stated my personal opinion. I also didn't say anything about the relative accuracies (precision of language please). :rolleyes:

Well, I probably wouldn't have responded as I did had you said "My phone is IMO (perhaps) acceptable in an urban environment, but it soon becomes a hindrance off road, or in inclement weather." I'd have asked which phone model you used. But your point was regarding "Phones", so I was responding to that (very common) generalization, even if was your opinion ;)

 

However, I'll cede one point - I did read your comment as including phones being [un-]acceptable in an urban environment, rather than acceptable, so that was my bad. Otherwise, I stand by my points.

But you do raise other good experiential points below, which show the contrast between use of a dedicated device vs smartphone, and how preference (not practical capability) is a huge factor:

 

- My main concern when it's pouring rain is the relative water resistance of the devices (yes, I've tried the Otterbox and didn't care for it). My Oregon has survived some river dunkings, I panic if my Samsung gets more than a splattering.

 

Interestingly, the most recent Samsung and iPhone models are actually very good under water; complete submersion. The 6S Plus isn't marketed as "waterproof" but lasts for quite some time submerged before showing signs of problems. Recent smartphones are getting much better at weather resistance. I'm really no longer nearly as afraid of using my phone in the rain (aside from the drops messing up the touch sensing). I believe I've also dropped each of my phones (3GS, 4S, 5S) into water at least once in their lives, and only one was bad enough that it had to be replaced. Another I lost in snow outside my house for all of winter. It eventually mostly worked when found, but only enough to back it up before replacing :P.

My 6S Plus though is still pristine. And I intend to keep it that way, heh

 

- My concern in uncertain footing is the loss of or damage to a phone many times the replacement cost of a GPSr.

 

Reasonable. And if you don't like the feel of a protective case, then for you it's an acceptable tradeoff. Personally, I keep mine in a secure pocket (zipped, generally) most of the time, especially if climbing a tree or rock faces and whatnot. Alas, obviously everyone treats their device as cautiously as they feel is needed. And accidents can always happen (regardless of which device we use)

 

- I find the phone to be too hard to hold onto and use single handedly when in the bush (other hand has firm grasp on hiking stick), I have to hold it just so to avoid pushing buttons or touching the screen where I don't want to, without it slipping away.

 

heh, try a 6S Plus. :P

On the flipside, I find use of a handheld gps device with its much more physical interaction methods more tedious and annoying coming from the smartphone side. I much more prefer the smartphone usability than GPSr.

 

- I suppose there's a lanyard that can be attached to the phone to stop it from hitting the ground when dropped, like the GPS, but I don't like that expensive screen swinging against rocks,(see replacement cost), so it needs to be carefully fished from a pocket when needed. The GPSr is built to take (and has taken) some knocks so it hangs conveniently around my neck or on my pack when not in active use.

 

Actually the screens now are extremely durable as we see in drop tests. A swing against a rock while on a lanyard around the neck will almost certainly do nothing, especially if already encased in a bag or hard cover.

 

- The lack of trail maps is a major deterrent to me, although I know somebody with an iPhone (mine's Android) who has maps, so I suppose they must be available, and the GS app should hopefully incorporate OSM in time, but if they don't work offline they'd be of limited use. Where I usually trek there's no cell signal for miles.

 

Yep, that all depends on the apps you've got. Some apps have their own exclusive maps; in Ontario many trail systems have been mapped out and are provided as downloadable packages that can be imported into gps devices or into certain apps.

Geosphere includes google maps and apple maps, GS's app has apple maps, and other apps can be connected in to quickly make use of other tile sets as well; I have a quick link to drop a waypoint into a dedicated openmaps app. Google's database of trails on their maps is slowly growing, but I tend to find that trails in OSM are more commonly marked. Of course many GPSr owners swear by the maps their brand provides, so it's really which system you're most satisfied with.

 

- It often turns out that somebody in the group du jour is missing a cache or several on their machine for one reason or another. We all use Garmins, and are able to beam to each other. Haven't yet figured a way to do that using phones, and reciting coordinates, descriptions, hints and possibly logs is tedious.

 

iPhone doesn't have NFC yet, apart from Apple Pay at least, but if it were a group of smartphone users, I'm sure texting or emailing a GC reference and then each loading it locally via their app is most common. I think that's also preferred anyway among smartphone users knowing they have internet capability; just load it from online. At least, I'd prefer that as having straight imports from another device if it's just as easy for me to d/l it online, seems more 'out of date' (ie, not necessarily the most recent data I can just download).

 

- there may be a way to download daily finds from a phone to GSAK, but I don't know how. With the GPS it's simple. The same goes for uploading GSAK formatted GPX files to the GPS. I like to include several useful stats in them other than what GS provide in theirs.

 

Geosphere exports data for GSAK import. It connects in with Dropbox, email, cloud, various methods. I've only personally used the feature once or twice, but it was highly requested during development from those use use GSAK heavily, especially with another dedicated GPS. GS's official app? meh.

 

- I suppose there are apps for the phone to record tracks so I can upload new trails to OSM, but the GPS already does it with just a click.

 

There certainly are apps that do tracklogs. They run in the background. Of course it drains the battery more, but battery life is an accepted different with smartphones because they do so much more than an offline dedicated gps. So it's a tradeoff. And yep, depending on the app, you might be able to export the data for laoding to OSM, or upload to the app's website and convert to OSM, or maybe there is an OSM tracklog app that automatically allows you to upload your tracklogs from the device. Haven't looked into it, but it's certainly conceptually possible. If the one-click ability is a deal-breaker, then you've got a good point at this moment ;)

 

- I do find the phone to be indispensable, though, when we stop for a break and find we have a fleeting bar of reception and can check for any email notifications of new caches in the vicinity.

 

I have a bookmark saved to view the map preview page for a PQ of all unfound caches in Ontario. Much more reliable and immediate than checking for email ;) But yes, that is a strength of a smartphone.

 

Most of the points above are issues with software, availability of apps, comfort with usability, and primarily all matters of preference; nothing hardware related. Nothing above can't be dealt with in some manner and practically resolved. So it comes down to really just preference and what you're willing to "put up with" (for instance, I just can't use a tiny low resolution GPSr screen, and the methods of interaction with the device annoy me, coming from the usability of a smartphone; but that's just my opinion I wouldn't expect everyone to share).

 

The ideal fundamental tradeoff is either to have a device that is dedicated to GPS and does it better than any other device, or to have a jack-of-all-trades device that does a whole lot of stuff yet well yet is still more than sufficient for geocaching in any context. (but still has great difficulty maintaining its usability for extended periods in frigid cold due to battery concerns)

 

Again, best combo for geocaching is to have both classes of device, to make use of both their strengths. Neither one is universally better than the other, but we just use what works best for each of us.

(I'm just not a fan of misinformation ;) and if I'm incorrect in anything, please let me know!)

 

"GPSr" can't reasonably be compared to "smartphone" because there are so many brands on both sides. When doing any comparison, it's always more prudent to be more specific about which devices, because yeah, if you were to compare experience with a high-end GPSr to that of an iPhone 3G, there'd be no question which is the better device. Specifics are key!

 

B)

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- The lack of trail maps is a major deterrent to me, although I know somebody with an iPhone (mine's Android) who has maps, so I suppose they must be available, and the GS app should hopefully incorporate OSM in time, but if they don't work offline they'd be of limited use. Where I usually trek there's no cell signal for miles.

 

This is possible. On my Android I use OSMAnd, a mapping app rather than a caching app, and it uses OSM mapping and has offline maps as an option. I also use Cachesense and C:geo both of which can use offline OSM maps.

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Yeah, really hoping that the next iteration of Geosphere will include an OSM option, and hopefully some amount of in-app offline map downloading (beyond just OS-native memory caching), and maybe even in-app navigation, and maybe even in-app tracklogging, and maybe even in-app geofencing for nearby cache notifications wihle navigating :)

So many features to make a great(er) app!

Edited by thebruce0

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Can a smartphone replace a dedicated GPS? Yes it can.

 

That being said, I have a variety of GPS capable devices, and use each for specific purposes. And, I don't always use them the same way every trip. And, my preference is always for a dedicated GPS device over a smartphone. The main reason is that the GPS units have screens that are easier to see in bright daylight. Other reasons include battery life and the convenience of recharging, and fragility of the units. Here's a couple of examples.

 

For quick little day trips, I may or may not use the TomTom for driving directions. When out of the car, I will carry two GPS units with me, a Montana and a Oregon 650. The 650 is usually powered off, and only turned on for photos. If I run across a muggle family that expresses interest in geocaching, I will loan them the 650. My primary GPS is my Montana. Why do I do it this way? It's a matter of battery life, and the ease of recharging. I have a cradle for the Montana, so I simple drop the unit in the cradle, and recharge it. The Oregon is much more of a pain to recharge in the car, so I don't use it much, to preserve battery life. The smartphone has the same problem.

 

There are other cases where I am going after a set of very specific caches. These are usually long, multi-day trips. I have several personal challenges (Jasmer, D/T Matrix, 360 degree circle, GeoTours, etc.) that I am working on. In this case, I use the TomTom for highway navigation. The caches loaded on the Montana are the ones that are the goal of this trip. The Montana would sit next to the TomTom, and point to the nearest cache. The 650 is loaded with every cache from my GSAK database. And, I would use my smartphone to see if there are any caches near the rest areas, restaurants and motels I stop at along the way. (I don't download tons of caches to GSAK, I really hate maintaining shadow databases. Therefore, I only maintain caches within 100 miles of my home location in GSAK.) So, outside that radius, the smartphone is the only device that look up a cache in an ad hoc manner.

 

For other, non-geocaching trips, I would just travel with a smartphone.

 

The Montana is the easiest to read, so it is my usual go to device for actual caching. The Oregon is better within trees and urban canyons. The Oregon is the next most readable, with the smartphone coming in last. All of the devices are capable of turn by turn navigation, but only the TomTom and the smartphone have audio builtin. The TomTom wins because it has a convenient windshield holder. I have toyed with getting a GPS capable watch, but I haven't found one that I like.

 

Again, my preferences and my style of geocaching are the determining factors in my GPS device selection. I find the smartphone to be as accurate as a dedicated GPS, just not as convenient. I have used the TomTom to locate caches (I do load it up with geocache POIs), but it is difficult to use for that purpose, so it is relegated to driving navigation only.

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Have you ever tried using a Smartphone when it's tipping down with rain? I usually carry a Smartphone for looking up cache details and logging finds as I go but always use the eTrex for navigating in adverse weather conditions. If I happen to be somewhere without the eTrex and wonder if there's any geocaches in the area the Smartphone is usually fine.

I also find the Smartphone useful if looking for caches which have been set using a Smartphone as I've found coordinates often differ from those given by the eTrex by as much as 50'.

In short - it's horses for courses. If you only cache in favourable weather conditions a Smartphone is fine. If you are worried about getting your Smartphone wet then uses a proper GPS.

 

There are types of smartphones that are dustproof, shockproof and waterproof. Just google on ip67 certified smartphones. Some examples: the Motorola Defy can be kept 1 meter underwater for 30 minutes. And on youtube you will find videoclips shot underwater with an Xperia smartphone. These phones are resistant against rain.

 

I recently replaced my smartphone and now have one that happens to be waterproof - it's GPS capabilty is also much better that it's predecessor so I tend to use the phone now as my primary geocaching tool - however - have you ever tried useing a smartphone when it's raining? I've talked to a number of people who use smart phones and like mine they all seem to suffer from the same problem - when the screen gets wet the touch screen is activated by rain drops and you cannot select anything without drying the screen first.

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Sorry for shouting, but it gets pretty frustrating not being heard.

 

Some stats of interest:

 

In the past year, using my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, I have:

 

  • Found over 600 geocaches
  • Hidden 15 geocaches
  • 2 of these geocaches were events. 1 of these events had 61 people attending and I took 49 waypoints for the event

 

No complaints about accuracy. In fact, I've had people compliment me on the reliability of my coords.

 

While I understand that some smartphones may not be accurate enough for geocaching, the fact remains that many are.

 

Okay, Incredibles, how about an update after two years (eons when it comes to technology) that will further silence your critics?!

 

I like your earlier point about user error. If phones tend to be used by newer cachers (less experienced), then they are probably not using averaging and other techniques that *any* device benefits from.

Edited by wmpastor

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Have you ever tried using a Smartphone when it's tipping down with rain? I usually carry a Smartphone for looking up cache details and logging finds as I go but always use the eTrex for navigating in adverse weather conditions. If I happen to be somewhere without the eTrex and wonder if there's any geocaches in the area the Smartphone is usually fine.

I also find the Smartphone useful if looking for caches which have been set using a Smartphone as I've found coordinates often differ from those given by the eTrex by as much as 50'.

In short - it's horses for courses. If you only cache in favourable weather conditions a Smartphone is fine. If you are worried about getting your Smartphone wet then uses a proper GPS.

 

There are types of smartphones that are dustproof, shockproof and waterproof. Just google on ip67 certified smartphones. Some examples: the Motorola Defy can be kept 1 meter underwater for 30 minutes. And on youtube you will find videoclips shot underwater with an Xperia smartphone. These phones are resistant against rain.

 

I recently replaced my smartphone and now have one that happens to be waterproof - it's GPS capabilty is also much better that it's predecessor so I tend to use the phone now as my primary geocaching tool - however - have you ever tried useing a smartphone when it's raining? I've talked to a number of people who use smart phones and like mine they all seem to suffer from the same problem - when the screen gets wet the touch screen is activated by rain drops and you cannot select anything without drying the screen first.

 

use an app that allows for locking the display (inside the mapping application) and if you need to input data, unlock the display again, wipe the screen with a shirt /glove and do the input.

 

the oleophobic screens are usually pretty good about shedding water. just my experience.

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