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slafa10

GPS Or Smartphone

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I currently use my smart phone to track down geocaches. I'm considering a GPS unit. Is it worth doing or am I better off just sticking with my phone?

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I just switched from using the Geocaching app on my iPhone to using a Magellan eXplorist GC. For me, at least, the Magellan is significantly more accurate. It's made specifically for geocaching and allows you to download caches directly from the geocaching.com site.

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Can't really answer that as it depends on the sort of geocaching you do, and what else you might want to use a GPS for?

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This question has popped up many times in this forum. Which is okay, because now I've had that much more time to compare smartphone vs GPSr. And my conclusion is still the same. The screen on my smartphone (Samsung S4) is too difficult for me to read on sunny days even at maximum brightness. The Otterbox case it's in gives it a sturdier grip and better protection but I still much prefer my GPSr.

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I currently use my smart phone to track down geocaches. I'm considering a GPS unit. Is it worth doing or am I better off just sticking with my phone?

 

It all depends. Is your smartphone working well for you? Are there situations where you wish you had an outdoor handheld gpsr? Do you have any need to change?

 

I generally cache with my iPhone - and the caching app I use is much better than my Oregon 600 - especially for longer earthcache or letterbox descriptions - or anything where graphics is important. When I have used the phone side by side with the 600, there is no significant difference in accuracy. In some places, including forests and slot canyons, the phone got me closer to the cache (which is a different consideration than accuracy).

 

On the other hand, over the weekend I kayaked to a cache or two on an island surrounded by very salty, alkaline, briney water. It was only four miles and I have a protective case for the phone, but there was no way I was going to take it out of the dry bag. And I still prefer to put the gpsr on my bicycle and use it under certain conditions.

 

The two can be a good combination. The phone app I use manages caches and allows me to export cache information (GPX) filed to the 600. And the 600 is there when I need it. But only you can answer if you are better off using your phone or handheld. If you are running against the limitations of your phone or want something different, then think about whether you want a handheld. If things are working fine for you without it, then why switch?

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Phone Pros:

- You already own one for other reasons.

- Applications are better designed and there are more options available.

- You can access data directly as long as you have cell coverage.

 

Dedicated GPS Pros:

- Water proof and rugged without any extra items.

- Longer battery life without extra items.

- May have better accuracy.

 

It is all about what you find works for you. If I'm driving and grabbing a cache, I'll use teh phone. It is easy and good enough. If I'm going hiking, I'll use a dedicated GPS. The battery will last all day and I don't have to worry about it getting damaged.

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This question has popped up many times in this forum. Which is okay, because now I've had that much more time to compare smartphone vs GPSr. And my conclusion is still the same. The screen on my smartphone (Samsung S4) is too difficult for me to read on sunny days even at maximum brightness. The Otterbox case it's in gives it a sturdier grip and better protection but I still much prefer my GPSr.

 

Amen to this....I use an iPhone and you can't see the screen in sunlight. If you cache at night and pack an Anker for recharging or never leave your car you might do O.K. if you don't drop it too much.

You can't beat a dedicated handheld for Geocaching.

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I recently, yesterday, bought a Magellan explorist gc. I could have spent a lot more money and had something significantly better than my phone, but at the end of the day I decided that I wanted something at a lower price that matched, or was slightly better, than my phone.

 

The problems I was having with my phone is this:

 

1. I'm on a low data plan. A few days of solid searching and I could easily reach my 2gb limit.

 

2. Battery life. I didn't like using my phone for more than an hour or two for the simple reason that my battery just doesn't last all day. And when it dies, I can't replace the batteries.

 

3. I found GPS on my phone was inconsistent and kind of difficult to follow. It would stall out at one spot, or jump from 2 feet away to 32 feet away.

 

If I had unlimited data, I probably would have just suffered with the minority. But for a small price, I bought a device that does mostly what my phone will do, but with MUCH better accuracy. In time, I might invest in a higher quality unit, but for now, my Magellan will work just fine.

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So much depends on your phone and app. I don't have any of the problems you listed:

 

1. Some apps, like Locus, work great offline. Offline = no data usage.

2. My Nexus 5 runs all day and then some without needing a recharge. (I choose my apps carefully, no battery-suckers or data suckers. I haven't used 2GB in, like, ever.)

3. I lucked out; the built-in GPS in my Nexus seems every bit as accurate as my trusty old 60CSx.

 

Also, being a newer phone, the screen is very usable outdoors. In brightest sunlight, I simply turn so it's in the shadow of my head, and with that it's readable. Oh, and the screen resolution is so high - maps are simply beautiful - I don't think Garmin will ever catch up.

 

So for me, the answer is PHONE. Right phone, right app.

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I Have used both and I find that the phone is great for cache information but GPSR is best for the actual hunt. My phone will jump all over the place when I am on the trail to the cache. The GPSR does not have that issue.

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Like many, I have the option of using both at most any time. I find the phone handy for looking up gc.com cache pages when I need more info that I've managed to load onto the GPS itself, e.g., when needing really old logs or when photos might be helpful. In those rare cases where the purpose built handheld is not with me, I can use the phone for 'casual caching' wherever I am. But for a real run, and for most of the reasons already stated above (esp battery life, screen visibility issues, durability, data availability, etc), it's a purpose built unit that does all the heavy lifting. At present, I'm still good friends with my trusty old Oregon 450.

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For me, I use my phone a lot more than my GPS unit. I purchased the GPS for when I am in an area with no service or if it is heavily wooded.

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I also have both an iPhone and an Oregon 600, and use one or both depending on what I am doing and where. The main reason I bought the Oregon was the battery life, and the ability to change batteries while I am out. Plus, even though I have an Otterbox on my phone, I like keeping it in my bag where it is protected even more, since it cost twice what the GPSr did. I do prefer reading the cache descriptions and past logs on the iPhone app, and I always dictate my logs on the phone at the cache site, so it's nice to have even if I don't use it for navigation. I would never go out without my phone for safety reasons, so I could get along without the Oregon. But it's fun to have another gadget.

 

Also, it is easier to project waypoints on the GPSr and it has the chirp receiver, although neither of these is required much. But the iPhone can do Wherigo cartridges, and the Oregon can't. So they really do complement each other

Edited by geekgrl1

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I also have both an iPhone and an Oregon 600, and use one or both depending on what I am doing and where.....

So they really do complement each other

 

I do the same, with a 64s and Android phone. I love the versatility of having/using both. The people who keep asking "which one" are missing something, no matter which one they pick, IMHO.

 

You might be interested that there is a free 'Chirp' app for iPhone as well as Android. I used the Android Chirp app and the 64s simultaneously recently, and actually found that the phone picked up the chirp signal 10-15 feet sooner than the Garmin. An added benefit of the phone app is it saves the location of where it picked up the signal, and also saves the Chirp message itself. Of course, you need a phone which supports ANT+. Now that I look into it a bit, I think you need to purchase an adapter for the iPhone.

Edited by JohnCNA

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Really? I just looked this up and there is nothing anywhere saying an iPhone 6 has ANT+. Can you provide some evidence?

 

https://www.thisisan.../filter/~/60/~/

 

Oh dear, it appears you're right. I believe it takes an adapter to add ANT+ to an iPhone. Well, at least the app is there for it.

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I also have both an iPhone and an Oregon 600, and use one or both depending on what I am doing and where.....

So they really do complement each other

 

I do the same, with a 64s and Android phone. I love the versatility of having/using both. The people who keep asking "which one" are missing something, no matter which one they pick, IMHO.

 

You might be interested that there is a free 'Chirp' app for iPhone as well as Android. I used the Android Chirp app and the 64s simultaneously recently, and actually found that the phone picked up the chirp signal 10-15 feet sooner than the Garmin. An added benefit of the phone app is it saves the location of where it picked up the signal, and also saves the Chirp message itself. Of course, you need a phone which supports ANT+. Now that I look into it a bit, I think you need to purchase an adapter for the iPhone.

What's the name of the Android Chirp app? Would like to try that out with my Sony Xperia Z3.

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I generally cache with my iPhone - and the caching app I use is much better than my Oregon 600 - especially for longer earthcache or letterbox descriptions - or anything where graphics is important.

 

This is probably our biggest complaint with earthcaches; they can be chock full of pictures, formatting, links, etc. It would be nice if Groundspeak would standardize cache listing descriptions and make them more friendly for dedicated GPS use and GPX files.

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