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taynerin

GPS or smartphone for geocaching?

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I am new to the game, and I am wondering your opinion. I have been using my smartphone to search geocaches, I am wondering if a GPS is better? Is a GPS hard to use? I am thinking of getting one that is easy to use, yet does not lack in any features that are found in more advanced GPS. Also, is there a way to manually enter a waypoint into geocaching.com app on a smart phone? I am just loving this hobby we call geocaching, I want to have the necessary equipment to find advanced caches, etc. Please, your advice would be welcomed and greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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Is a GPS "better"? Not necessarily. Better as in more accurate or getting you closer to the cache? Not really. Better as in much longer battery life and not having to worry about bricking your $400 phone if you drop it in a puddle or face first on a rock? Most definitely.

 

A handheld GPS won't be as easy to use (at first) as your smartphone app. First, it has no internet connectivity, which means you'll have to load the caches to the device before going out. Bit of a learning curve involved, but nothing unmanageable. Then you'll have to install maps, because most handheld GPS units only come with a rudimentary base map, which only shows major highways and bodies of water. Unless you pay a little more for one with topographical maps preinstalled.

 

Keep playing with your smartphone for now. Study Gitchee's link for instructions on how to add waypoints. If the time comes that you feel you need a GPS, you'll know it. Many people cache for years with smartphones and never feel the need for anything else.

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To enter a waypoint you need to press the Navigate to Cache button and then go to the map view. Then pressing the three dots in to the top right hand corner lets you enter a waypoint.

 

Whether or not you need a GPS is a good question. When I use a GPS device of any kind it's an iPhone and it seems to work fine. I don't drag it over massively long distances or do stuff that awfully adventurous with it so I don't need the ruggedness that a dedicated GPS would probably give me. I tend to use maps most of the time and only the device if it's a multi or when I know I'm about where I need to be - so the ability to replace a battery isn't a major deal. Because I'm not looking at it all the time then weather isn't a big deal for me either.

 

If any of those things are things that apply to you then you may well be better off with a dedicated GPS now. Or you might be better of waiting and seeing how much you do this summer and thinking about it then.

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I am wondering if a GPS is better?
How do you define "better"? Yes, I'm serious.

 

I do most of my geocaching with my smartphone. But if I'm by myself, or with others who are relying on my device for navigation, then my battery is critically low after a couple hours. If I'm with others and am able to rely on their devices for most of the navigation, using my phone only when we're already at the cache locations, then after about 5 hours, my battery is critically low. And I'd never take my phone on a geocaching kayak trip, and if I drop it in a stream, then it becomes an expensive paperweight. And while its GPS reception is pretty good, I know that modern dedicated GPS units will have better reception, especially in adverse conditions like steep canyons or heavy tree cover. But there are certainly ways to work around these limitations, and there are people who would rather do that than buy a dedicated GPS unit.

 

But my phone is extremely convenient for spur of the moment geocaching. I don't have to connect my phone to a computer to download geocache data, or to upload field note data. I can just download live cache data if I decide to do some unplanned geocaching, or if my geocaching plans change. Plus, it can do a lot of other things as easily as switching from my geocaching app to any of the other apps on my phone.

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Defining "better" is definitely key to providing an answer. It'll be different for everyone. What is it that you are looking for, or attributes you think need to be the best in your case?

I'm 100% satisfied with my iPhone 4S. I've cached in mountains, under forest, used gps over water (haven't scuba'd with it :P though I have tubed down river while caching with it), through desert (actually that was a 3GS, even), spelunked with it in caves, run, biked, flew with it... for me though, I go prepared for all of that. Some argue that a lot of that preparation you don't need to do with a rugged GPSr. It may be true. But you use the device you're comfortable with, both in usability and capability and use habits.

 

In short, if you compare absolutely bare capabilities in the context of geocaching, a dedicated GPSr will generally be more capable. The smartphone's strengths shine in other places that are beneficial but not necessary, but you can boost its weaknesses with other things like accessories or preparation steps.

 

So really, it depends what, where and how you want to cache, how much you intend to actively care for your device, and to what degree of money you're willing to spend.

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I cache with both but much prefer the GPS. My phone is OK for spur of the moment geocaching, but when I get off the beaten path or I'm out for a full day of caching, it's hard to beat a dedicated handheld GPS.

 

Battery life is better and if the batteries die, just swap in a fresh pair. I'm not tied to a charger. Durability is important to me because I've knocked my GPS units around pretty good, including falling off the roof of my car at 25 mph and getting dropped in water. They are built to take the abuse, smart phones aren't. And readability is an issue with my smart phone. It's really hard to see the screen in sunlight. With my handheld GPS the brighter the sun, the brighter the display.

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I cache with both but much prefer the GPS. My phone is OK for spur of the moment geocaching, but when I get off the beaten path or I'm out for a full day of caching, it's hard to beat a dedicated handheld GPS.

 

Battery life is better and if the batteries die, just swap in a fresh pair. I'm not tied to a charger. Durability is important to me because I've knocked my GPS units around pretty good, including falling off the roof of my car at 25 mph and getting dropped in water. They are built to take the abuse, smart phones aren't. And readability is an issue with my smart phone. It's really hard to see the screen in sunlight. With my handheld GPS the brighter the sun, the brighter the display.

 

+1, especially regarding readability....I gave my 5S a try this weekend at the lakefront and it bordered on being unusable. I can't imagine caching with it out west where cover is scarce.

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Defining "better" is definitely key to providing an answer. It'll be different for everyone. What is it that you are looking for, or attributes you think need to be the best in your case?

I'm 100% satisfied with my iPhone 4S. I've cached in mountains, under forest, used gps over water (haven't scuba'd with it :P though I have tubed down river while caching with it), through desert (actually that was a 3GS, even), spelunked with it in caves, run, biked, flew with it... for me though, I go prepared for all of that. Some argue that a lot of that preparation you don't need to do with a rugged GPSr. It may be true. But you use the device you're comfortable with, both in usability and capability and use habits.

 

In short, if you compare absolutely bare capabilities in the context of geocaching, a dedicated GPSr will generally be more capable. The smartphone's strengths shine in other places that are beneficial but not necessary, but you can boost its weaknesses with other things like accessories or preparation steps.

 

So really, it depends what, where and how you want to cache, how much you intend to actively care for your device, and to what degree of money you're willing to spend.

 

If battery life for the iPhone were equal to my Garmin GPS, and if I had to choose one, I'd go with the iPhone. I like having access to the website while out in the field. I also like using my Wonderful Days journalling app, to keep track of my thoughts and my photos while geocaching. I'm happy with my iPhone 4's accuracy, although under a lot of tree cover it's not as good as my gps. I use a Lifeproof cover on my phone and have been happy with the ruggedness - water, dirt, snow, dropping. But because of battery life is so short, I use my GPS for the most part and then the phone to access the GC app and the WD app when I get near ground zero.

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These gpsr/smartphone comparison threads are all too common in the forum :) We should just choose one massive thread, and when someone posts asking for thoughts, just link over to that one all the time :laughing:

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These gpsr/smartphone comparison threads are all too common in the forum :) We should just choose one massive thread, and when someone posts asking for thoughts, just link over to that one all the time :laughing:

 

I agree. We could also do one for tacks in trees, buried caches ,what is a DNF,micro proliferation , what GPS should I get, is an electronic compass worth it, and a few more.

Problem is we may not have anything to talk about. :)

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This is a heated debate I have seen a few time here... There are pros and cons to each, the smartphone and the GPSr... being as I have gone caching with both recently and lost the GPSr some how and still have my smartphone, I am siding with the smartphone. Then again depending on the phone you have, some are more rugged than others like the one I have. It has yet to let me down and I dont worry about it dropping, getting a bath, caught in the rain or some of the other concerns that most smartphone users have.

 

So my advice is to cache with what you have and find someone with a GPSr and cache with them and see what one you like better.

 

My opinion, I like my smartphone for about 90% of the caching I do, now when I start getting out to the more remote areas where battery life will play a larger concern, then I will will get another GPSr. Till then, my smartphone has put me with 20ft or less the cache I was seeking 95% of the time. That is good enough for me.

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I would say you need to list your priorities as to what is important for you in your GPS/smartphone.

 

I see people on here saying that they find the smartphone useless. One thing to remember about using your smartphone is cell phone coverage. I believe you can also save caches for use offline and hunt them that way should the coverage not be good.

 

I found out yesterday that I can now geocache in an area I had not been able to before with my smartphone. Before, I was receiving some off brand service where the data was pretty much nonexistent. Yesterday I was using a tower from my provider on LTE.

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Offline caching with your smartphone entirely depends on what app you use, regardless of device. I wouldn't suggest using one that doesn't have offline features.

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The smartphone will be better if you plan to find a few caches, for example after work, which includes quizes or multis. It's hard to check dictionary or wikipedia on GPS :D

 

For full-day caching: only GPS. After buying GPS I'm finding 3 times more caches :D GPS is strong and stabile, you can afford looking on the map the whole time, you see good even in full sun and you don't have to make 'charging' pauses after 2-3 hours.

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One of the GREAT functions I find with my smartphone (LGG2) Android is the ability to use maps in the satellite view. I have actually found caches from the picture only. No coordinates needed. Still on the fence about a GPS. The extra battery would be great. That said, an additional smartphone battery would be cheaper...... decisions, decisions......

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You don't mention which phone you have. If you have an android phone then download c:geo from the play store.

It's free and is the best geocaching app out there, by far. You can download, find, log, add notes and waypoints, in fact I can't think of anything, geocaching-wise, that isn't supported.

I don't know if it's available for iPhone, but then I don't consider an iPhone as suitable for geocaching because you can't change the battery. Once the battery is dead you're stuffed.

I've been using c:geo on ZTE Blade for years now and it's brilliant. In a ₤6 leather case the phone is robust and survived being dropped several times. Battery life is about 7 hours and should it die I just pop in a fully recharged one (which cost ₤2 on eBay).

 

Definitely give c:geo a try. If you need an android phone you can pick one up on eBay for not much money, e.g. A new unlocked ZTE Blade V for about ₤50. Just make sure any phone you get has a magnetometer.

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wondering if deskdata has read the thread...

 

Also, "[c:geo is] the best geocaching app out there, by far" -- YMMV, let alone that you clearly haven't used every app out there, by far; and, "I can't think of anything, geocaching-wise, that isn't supported." Except, you know, the fact that c:geo itself is not supported by Groundspeak.

It may be a good app, but choose your words wisely ;)

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I was solely reliant on my Galaxy S3 and it did a terrific job, though the battery suffered greatly. I decided to bite the bullet and get a GPSr for when I couldn't get a signal or needed a backup when the battery on my phone was down and it does okay. I'm not wild about the interface and having to do PQs for it...but it works okay. I may upgrade sometime to a unit that has a better UI and an electronic compass...but not right away.

 

My phone recently got the Android "KitKat" update, though...and it appears to have really messed up the GPS functionality. I'm not sure why it would, but it seems to take a LOT longer to zero in on my location...and then it'll "lose" me every now and then, showing me as stationary even when my car is going 50 mph. Makes me grateful for the GPSr for those times. I'll be upgrading the phone by the end of the year...I still prefer using it to the GPSr. It just works more smoothly overall.

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I used to have garmin map60csx and I sold it and bought one of the plugin external gps units for my iphone. It greatly improves the accuracy and it has it's own internal battery (but either device can slave off the other). The model I bought was the emprum utilimate GPS. It' aquires satellites very quickly and works very well under tree cover and all that. I know there are other companies that make similar devices but this one seemed to get the best reviews. So I say iphone caching with the accessory is best (for me) along with the geocaching app and for all other outdoor sports the Gaia app. That's my 2 cents!

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Offline caching with your smartphone entirely depends on what app you use, regardless of device. I wouldn't suggest using one that doesn't have offline features.

 

True. If no caches are saved to your phone and there is no signal ( PLENTY places ) you can't cache. I only use my phone for earthcaches and other long descriptions but I still have to save them to the phone are they are unavailable to me.

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I use both a GPS (etrex 20) and my iPhone. I like having multiple devices for distance readings (especially when in the woods), though the etrex does tend to be more accurate and never has issues with updating. I like having the iPhone so if I'm stumped, I can look through all of the past logs and photographs to see if I can learn more about the cache while in the field. Though, admittedly, if I know I'm seeking an LPC or GRM I'll usually just use the phone to get me close, I usually already have a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for and the geosense does most of the work. Meanwhile, if I'm doing a long hike in the woods, I will always take the etrex and waypoint about every 10 minutes to make sure I don't get lost (my sense of direction under tree-cover is notoriously bad).

 

There are benefits to both tools and I think you'll find a lot of people use both.

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You've been using an iphone........

 

You've come here to ask us whether or not you should get a GPS ..... You're having thoughts of getting a GPS.....

 

You are ready to buy a GPS!!!!!! GET ONE!!

 

That's exactly how it went for us. We were using the iphones for a while and discovered their limitations (for us). The biggest issues we had were battery life & caching in areas without cell signal. We cache a lot out in the woods and do a lot of hiking & outdoor activities.

 

Don't skimp on a GPS either.... Since you're used to using an iphone, get a GPS with a 3 axis compass. Our first GPS was a Megellan Explorist. It doesn't have a 3axis compass. We hated it. Sold it after our first weekend of using it.

 

GPS's can be complex at first, but once you learn how to use them.....you'll be glad you bought one. We still carry & use our iphones for geocaching - but the GPS's make life so much easier. Not to mention....if something happens - its much cheaper to replace a GPS than it is to replace a very very expensive iphone.

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The biggest issues we had were battery life & caching in areas without cell signal. We cache a lot out in the woods and do a lot of hiking & outdoor activities.

 

I've still yet to find a need for a 'cell signal' for caching???

 

Please advise where on earth this is necessary. Lol

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I cache with both but much prefer the GPS. My phone is OK for spur of the moment geocaching, but when I get off the beaten path or I'm out for a full day of caching, it's hard to beat a dedicated handheld GPS.

 

Battery life is better and if the batteries die, just swap in a fresh pair. I'm not tied to a charger. Durability is important to me because I've knocked my GPS units around pretty good, including falling off the roof of my car at 25 mph and getting dropped in water. They are built to take the abuse, smart phones aren't. And readability is an issue with my smart phone. It's really hard to see the screen in sunlight. With my handheld GPS the brighter the sun, the brighter the display.

 

+1, especially regarding readability....I gave my 5S a try this weekend at the lakefront and it bordered on being unusable. I can't imagine caching with it out west where cover is scarce.

 

I didn't have much of a problem caching in sunny Arizona using my iPhone....for 2 years.

And when it's sunny here on Seattle-my Garmin screen is as reflective as my iPhone. So. There ya go

 

 

As far as durability. I will never ever ever ever leave my iPhone on the roof of my car. Lol

I have dropped it down a muddy wet trail where it literally tumbled 20ft down hill-into a pile of mud. I was heading up and nearing the summit, so I was mostly bummed out about the 20ft additional elevation gain.

 

The iPhone, however, was just fine

 

As usual

 

In my years on this forum....I've yet to see a valid argument against smartphones. Not one. I'm lucky I've field tested so many iPhones, and in so many different environments.

 

Oh. And I only have a bumper on mine. No case

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I cache with both but much prefer the GPS. My phone is OK for spur of the moment geocaching, but when I get off the beaten path or I'm out for a full day of caching, it's hard to beat a dedicated handheld GPS.

 

Battery life is better and if the batteries die, just swap in a fresh pair. I'm not tied to a charger. Durability is important to me because I've knocked my GPS units around pretty good, including falling off the roof of my car at 25 mph and getting dropped in water. They are built to take the abuse, smart phones aren't. And readability is an issue with my smart phone. It's really hard to see the screen in sunlight. With my handheld GPS the brighter the sun, the brighter the display.

 

+1, especially regarding readability....I gave my 5S a try this weekend at the lakefront and it bordered on being unusable. I can't imagine caching with it out west where cover is scarce.

 

 

I didn't have much of a problem caching in sunny Arizona using my iPhone....for 2 years.

And when it's sunny here on Seattle-my Garmin screen is as reflective as my iPhone. So. There ya go

 

 

As far as durability. I will never ever ever ever leave my iPhone on the roof of my car. Lol

I have dropped it down a muddy wet trail where it literally tumbled 20ft down hill-into a pile of mud. I was heading up and nearing the summit, so I was mostly bummed out about the 20ft additional elevation gain.

 

The iPhone, however, was just fine

 

As usual

 

In my years on this forum....I've yet to see a valid argument against smartphones. Not one. I'm lucky I've field tested so many iPhones, and in so many different environments.

 

Oh. And I only have a bumper on mine. No case

 

Just went out in the front yard with my 5S and 62S....simply no comparison , the iPhone was about unusable and the 62 looked perfect. If I shielded the iPhone with my body it was much better but walking into the sun I'd have to hike backing up. In some ways the phone blows away the GPS ( maps, form & function, slick apps )but screen readability issues alone makes me take the GPS on the trail....I love having the phone in the truck though.

Edited by BAMBOOZLE

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I just hold my hand over the screen

 

Last week' I was caching in Canada, so Iwas running on PQs. Consistently, my iPhone was far, far more accurate than my Garmin 62s. My husband actually said, "why are we using this thing??" Because the Garmin was so off. Usually it's rock solid, no lie. But this trip it was running 70ft+ off, shutting completely off at random times, the little arrow wouldn't move to indicate my position, etc

 

Many times the difference between 70ft meant I had to climb down one rock face and climb up another on the other side of the trial. It was......exhausting.

 

On that day, the iPhone was no comparison.

 

That being said...I don't go on the trail without my Garmin either.

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I've still yet to find a need for a 'cell signal' for caching???

 

Please advise where on earth this is necessary. Lol

 

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking.... It's a cell phone thing.

 

If you're geocaching with a phone (smartphone, iphone, etc) - You need cell signal.

 

Some folks are able to geocache with the iphone without cell signal via having Pocket queries loaded in their phones and only using the GPS. However - I've tried it - and my phone was very S L O W and locked up often. Not fun. Some of the wooded areas / hiking trails near my home do not have cell service. Dead zones.

Edited by Lieblweb

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I didn't have much of a problem caching in sunny Arizona using my iPhone....for 2 years.

And when it's sunny here on Seattle-my Garmin screen is as reflective as my iPhone. So. There ya go

 

 

As far as durability. I will never ever ever ever leave my iPhone on the roof of my car. Lol

I have dropped it down a muddy wet trail where it literally tumbled 20ft down hill-into a pile of mud. I was heading up and nearing the summit, so I was mostly bummed out about the 20ft additional elevation gain.

 

The iPhone, however, was just fine

 

As usual

 

In my years on this forum....I've yet to see a valid argument against smartphones. Not one. I'm lucky I've field tested so many iPhones, and in so many different environments.

 

Oh. And I only have a bumper on mine. No case

 

It's obvious you geocache with a cell phone.... nothing wrong with that, I've done it.

 

Do you own a handheld GPS?

 

Have you ever geocached with a handheld GPS?

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I've still yet to find a need for a 'cell signal' for caching???

 

Please advise where on earth this is necessary. Lol

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking.... It's a cell phone thing.

 

If you're geocaching with a phone (smartphone, iphone, etc) - You need cell signal.

 

Some folks are able to geocache with the iphone without cell signal via having Pocket queries loaded in their phones and only using the GPS. However - I've tried it - and my phone was very S L O W and locked up often. Not fun. Some of the wooded areas / hiking trails near my home do not have cell service. Dead zones.

I've never had a problem geocaching with my Android phones in areas with poor/no cell reception. Sure, the features that require internet access don't work, but the rest has been fine. Although sometimes I put the phone in Airplane Mode, so it will stop searching for a cell signal, to preserve the battery.

 

Maybe putting an iPhone in Airplane Mode will help reduce the glitches, for people who experience glitches.

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I've still yet to find a need for a 'cell signal' for caching???

 

Please advise where on earth this is necessary. Lol

 

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking.... It's a cell phone thing.

 

If you're geocaching with a phone (smartphone, iphone, etc) - You need cell signal.

 

Some folks are able to geocache with the iphone without cell signal via having Pocket queries loaded in their phones and only using the GPS. However - I've tried it - and my phone was very S L O W and locked up often. Not fun. Some of the wooded areas / hiking trails near my home do not have cell service. Dead zones.

 

No. You don't need a cell signal. At all. And you don't even need queries. You can save caches locally to an offline list when you're at home. So yeah-you need an offline list. But that's it. Zero cell service needed to geocache.

 

My Garmin needs to be loaded up with caches when I'm at home too!

 

My app behaves 100% better with data/cellular turned OFF which is how I cache when I'm hiking alone in the mountians. I intentionally cache with it off. Course, I do the same when I'm cache in Canada too. Cell-off. App better. Caches found. Done.

 

 

I didn't have much of a problem caching in sunny Arizona using my iPhone....for 2 years.

And when it's sunny here on Seattle-my Garmin screen is as reflective as my iPhone. So. There ya go

 

 

As far as durability. I will never ever ever ever leave my iPhone on the roof of my car. Lol

I have dropped it down a muddy wet trail where it literally tumbled 20ft down hill-into a pile of mud. I was heading up and nearing the summit, so I was mostly bummed out about the 20ft additional elevation gain.

 

The iPhone, however, was just fine

 

As usual

 

In my years on this forum....I've yet to see a valid argument against smartphones. Not one. I'm lucky I've field tested so many iPhones, and in so many different environments.

 

Oh. And I only have a bumper on mine. No case

 

It's obvious you geocache with a cell phone.... nothing wrong with that, I've done it.

 

Do you own a handheld GPS?

 

Have you ever geocached with a handheld GPS?

 

Yes! So my siggy says...two handhelds even!! A Garmin 60CSx and a 62s.

 

Yes! I've used it. Last week on Canada-although my iPhone (with data and cell turned off) outperformed my Garmin hands down.

 

I also take it with me each time I hike. Again, I still use my iPhone to cache. I use the Garmin for the NWTopos mapset. Can't get that on my iPhone. If i could get NWTrails/NWTopos on the iPhone....well, I'd put both garmins up on eBay.

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Amazing.....it just shows how different people have different experiences and preferences....if I had to use my iPhone for caching I'd probably quit caching or seriously cut back. I'm convinced that others feel the opposite....... so be it.

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I recently asked this same question as I was using my iPhone to geocache. I live in the UK near to the Lake District and found that the majority of the time I did not have signal on my phone and was left unable to continue geocaching. Not sure if I was doing something wrong or not but I found that I needed signal even if I had the caches loaded as pocket queries. Maybe it was because I was using the app for everything, the description, hints and the compass. After the issue with no signal came battery life. Again, maybe I was doing something wrong as I never turned anything off, just got out of the car at my desired location and set off. I ended up buying a GPS, Garmin Etrex30 and to be honest, i don’t really like it nor do I find it easy to use. That job is down to my hubby! I like the app on the iPhone as everything is there that I need and this is probably why I haven’t made much of an effort to use the GPS. When we go out geocaching we take both. Hubby armed with GPS and me with phone with a backup travel charger for the phone. I like the ability to log i have found a cache with the iPhone, add a note and a photograph whilst out and about but this may change in time if I do manage to spend some time learning how to use the GP. I must add though, that I have found the GPS only to be slightly more accurate than my iPhone in locating a cache but maybe this will change if I am in the woods.

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There are quirks and learning curves to both handhelds and smartphones, let alone enormous ranges of brands and hardware quality and user experience design.

 

Any time someone says one was awful and the other was great, there is zero way to somehow apply that rating across the board to the 'handheld vs smartphone' debate.

 

You have to gauge one's experience as a whole, not the just end result. How much do you know about your device? How long have you been using your device? Have you used other devices to compare? How tech-savvy or detail-oriented are you? How well does your device actually fit into the way you, yourself, enjoy your hobby? Where do you mostly enjoy your hobby? All of these questions differ from person to person, and dramatically affect the resulting opinions about the device.

 

Always consider all of that when asking others about devices and determining which is best for you.

Edited by thebruce0

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How much does a dedicated GPSr improve signal reliability, especially in thick cover, steep hills, or even spelunking and the like?

 

Also (if anyone happens to know), what's the major tech difference that makes a dedicated GPSr more reliable in adverse conditions?

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I use my iPhone a lot for caching, in fact I do most of my cache management with it, including homezone/todo-lists, storing pocket queries for trips, find/DNF lists, lists of solved puzzles, writing log entries, taking and uploading photos, getting notification mails and reading/writing forums. Outdoors it allows me reading the cache listing, maybe solve a puzzle including accessing the internet and doing calculations, takes me to the parking spot (by the navigation app connected to the caching app), leads me the way to ground zero by compass and GPS coverage, assisted by a topo vector map on the unit. On scene I may reread the listing, decode the hint, check spoilers and look for recent log entries or older log entries maybe with some clue. Or mailing/phoning someone for help (CO nickname and profile available from the listing). Then I immedeately can mark the cache as found/DNF and maybe start a log text at thr next rest - normally finished at home with a sufficient entry, some added pictures and uploaded to the website (date/time of log choosable, mostly I use the offline log feature to preserve this information until later). For environmental issues I have a protective case and a travel charger. This works great! My favourite app is "Looking4Cache Pro", engineered to preserve power wherever possible and sufficient to work totally offline, included offline maps and licensed API usage.

 

My recently bought GPS handheld unit is used when I want a "second opinion", tracking on longer hikes and/or to give it the kids. Loading cache data is a pain with this unit, not only to get it connected with Linux but even with Windows it's far more fiddling and using cables plus additional software. So I simply type the coordinates of stages/finals in. Not much more. I could very well find caches without it, accuracy and battery life is no advantage. Only real advantage over the iPhone is the good environmental (and kids) protection. Plus, it looks far cooler hanging on the belt than the phone. :)

 

Just my 0.02 € here...

 

BTW: I used to give SAR lectures about wilderness orientation, compass and maps the last ~25 years, so I know a bit of the "old stuff". Oh, for backup I still carry a simple compass with me (and a second cell phone). And yes, this long text as well as most of my log entries are typed on the iPhone. You may call me smartphone cacher, but that doesn't sound bad to me...at least I don't use the teaser app and have a validated mail adress. :)

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How much does a dedicated GPSr improve signal reliability, especially in thick cover, steep hills, or even spelunking and the like?
My experience with Android devices has been that their GPS performance is comparable to my old yellow eTrex. Modern handheld GPS units have high-sensitivity receivers. You may not notice much difference when you have a clear view of the sky (i.e., a clear view of the satellites), but you will in situations with poor reception. I've been geocaching in areas (e.g., steep canyons, heavy redwood forests) where phones and old-school handheld GPS units had no signal at all, but modern high-sensitivity units were fine.

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I prefer to use both, my android phone and my dakota 20.

The phone allows many diff map types to visually locate the cache (street view, topo, satellite, etc) whereas my gps has only topo and generic base map. The gps locks on to the satellites faster and is more accurate.

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How much does a dedicated GPSr improve signal reliability, especially in thick cover, steep hills, or even spelunking and the like?
My experience with Android devices has been that their GPS performance is comparable to my old yellow eTrex. Modern handheld GPS units have high-sensitivity receivers. You may not notice much difference when you have a clear view of the sky (i.e., a clear view of the satellites), but you will in situations with poor reception. I've been geocaching in areas (e.g., steep canyons, heavy redwood forests) where phones and old-school handheld GPS units had no signal at all, but modern high-sensitivity units were fine.

sensitivity is really the big differenc. The fact is that cell phone GPS are not sensitive. What does this mean? Under tree cover etc. you phone will see less satallites and will be less accuriate, or compleatly loose lock.

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Modern smartphones have excellent reception.

High end dedicated GPS should always have the best reception.

 

In 5 years, I've only cached (used GPS) with an iPhone, from 3GS, now to the 5S, with and without cell reception (gps always works unless in airplane mode). In desert, over water, in mountains, urban cores, heavy forest... Smartphones (especially latest models) are more than capable GPS devices for all those environments, if you use it properly and you're prepared. First hand experience.

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Modern smartphones have excellent reception.

High end dedicated GPS should always have the best reception.

 

In 5 years, I've only cached (used GPS) with an iPhone, from 3GS, now to the 5S, with and without cell reception (gps always works unless in airplane mode). In desert, over water, in mountains, urban cores, heavy forest... Smartphones (especially latest models) are more than capable GPS devices for all those environments, if you use it properly and you're prepared. First hand experience.

 

I have to agree in large part since I have used my iphone in all of those environments, but I just finished using an app (Geosphere) to search out a number of kayak caches, create a GPX file, and transfer that to my dedicated gpsr. So far my gpsr has been in the water three or four times. I could put the phone in a waterproof container or bag, but I also know myself . . .

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I have been using my IPhone 4s exclusively since I started last year. I bought an explorist GC and had a really tough time with it. In truth , I never learned to use it properly and I loaned it to another geocacher. I just added a Mophie juice pack extended battery case to my iPhone, so I'm feeling much better about battery life.

Problem is I have an offer to buy a garmin 62sc for $200 and it seems too good to pass up.

Thoughts?

Edited by Sway_xx

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