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Benefit of GPS device vs iPhone?

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Total newbie, but really enjoying so far! I have the app on my iPhone, but was wondering if there is any benefit to having a dedicated GPS device (i.e. are they more accurate?) One downside I have noticed of using my iPhone is that it really uses up the battery quickly. Also, is using a dedicated device thought to be more "purist" or more challenging at all :P ?

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Better battery life, and more weatherproof and rugged, especially if dropped!

 

GPS needs planning in advance.

(You could look up the details on the phone, hand enter them to the GPS, then hunt for the cache)

 

Phones can lose cell service, but if you have the details saved off-line you can still search with a phone.

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In addition to what B&R said,in bright sunlight, I find my eTrex 20 much easier to read than my iPhone 5s. The other side of the coin is the iPhone has a much larger display.

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Total newbie, but really enjoying so far! I have the app on my iPhone, but was wondering if there is any benefit to having a dedicated GPS device (i.e. are they more accurate?) One downside I have noticed of using my iPhone is that it really uses up the battery quickly. Also, is using a dedicated device thought to be more "purist" or more challenging at all :P ?

 

Regarding iPhone battery life. Carry a powerbank.

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In regards to the phone battery problem, i keep a charger in the car that can keep it topped up while driving and i also use the gps in the phone sparingly. For a cache that needs a walk out to it I'll work out what track i need to be on and roughly how far it is then shut the app down, only looking at it every 15-20 minutes to see how we're looking.

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As a former iPhone user, I must say I used to suffer the same problem you do: battery life. It used to drain pretty quickly and one time I tried a power trail I ran out of battery...

 

Now I own an Android which has got a 3100 mAh battery (my old iPhone used to have a 2600 mAh) and I have also got a 2600 mAh powerbank. They work perfectly together and if there is a struggle, I can always activate power saver mode and the battery will last forever. However, I do recommend an outdoor case for the phone ;)

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Depending on your phone accuracy plays in. My hand held unit can get within 8 feet. Phone about 20-30

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I do almost all my caching with the iPhone. When used side by side with my Oregon 600, sometimes it gets me closer to the cache, sometimes not. But generally the two are very close to each other - certainly close enough for finding a cache (where the coordinates may vary in any event). I have used the phone to cache without a problem in forests, slot canyons, and while camping on an island far from cell reception.

 

GPS use will affect battery life. The caching app I use (Geosphere) allows me to turn location services off from within the app when it is not needed. That can help, but admittedly I rarely use that feature. Battery cases can also extend battery life. The phone will be a bit bulkier, but they are easier to use in the field than wired battery packs, and offer some protection if the phone is dropped. If you go that route, think about the grip. Some cases are too slick for my liking. There is at least one battery case that is also waterproof, but I have not tried it.

 

There are also many cases that offer protection without the extra battery. That did not help me when I dropped the my iPhone 5 when getting out of a kayak. As a result I now cache with the iPhone 6 and keep it in a dry bag. I tried a waterproof case but did not like it so the Oregon is still my choice when kayaking, biking, or doing some longer hikes in inclement weather.

 

Other than that, the iPhone caching app I use provides an easy interface, while displaying the cache pages with html graphics - much better for earthcaches (or any cache where the description is important) than my Oregon gpsr. It also works well with offline mapping and voice routing. Even if I am using the gpsr I want to have the phone near. And since the app allows me to export GPX files (cache lists) to the gpsr with a small connecting device, the two work great together.

 

Still, there may be no need for you to use anything other than your phone. My general advice, then, is to take precautions with your phone - get to know its limits as well as what it can do, get used to this game, find out what type of caching you like to do. You will know it when or if you want a different device.

Edited by geodarts

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I cache with my smartphone and GPS. I much prefer the GPS if I'm going out for a day of caching. Far better battery life (and field replaceable batteries), much more rugged, waterproof, better GPS reception and no need for cell service.

 

For a quickie cache or spur of the moment caching my phone is fine, but it kills the battery. I tried carrying an external power bank, but then I'm holding two devices. I tried putting the power bank in my pocket, then the wire kept getting caught on branches. Too much of a pain to deal with. There also is no cell phone reception in some of the places where I cache. On a recent trip to VT my partner's cell phone was out of range on about half of the caches we attempted, so my GPS saved the day.

Edited by briansnat

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:huh: I prefer the GPSR over phone since its more reliable especially in the rain/show. It can get wet and keeps a signal better. There are places that the phone can lose a signal then what?

 

In city your phone is ok. Each to his/her own choice. I've dropped my GPSR and it's a Timex as it keeps on working. Drop a phone down a steep bank and it may require replacement.

 

Good Luck in your choice.. :)

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  •  
  • Batteries last all day
  • Much better antenna
  • Screen doesn't wash out in sunlight (at least, that's true for my trusty Garmin 60 CSx, and its transflective screen that actually gets easier to read in direct sunlight)
  • Made to take outdoor abuse

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I need both.

There have been times when the app isn't working. I use my GPS.

There have been times when I thought I had my GPS in the car but I left it on the kitchen table. I use my phone.

I'm looking for a multicache. It's easier to use my GPS to enter coordinates.

I downloaded a corrupted file to my GPS, and didn't realize it until I fired it up in the field. I use my phone.

The cache is deep in the woods. GPS.

I can't find the cache. I read the logs that say the cache is at coordinates listed in someone's log, I use my GPS.

 

Edited by L0ne.R

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I cache in a lot of places with no cell reception...
FWIW, I use my phone in places with no cell reception. Obviously, I can't download live cache data or maps, but the apps have worked just fine with preloaded cache data and the phone's GPS system.

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I cache in a lot of places with no cell reception...
FWIW, I use my phone in places with no cell reception. Obviously, I can't download live cache data or maps, but the apps have worked just fine with preloaded cache data and the phone's GPS system.

But it can affect your accuracy, as it takes a good while longer to download the differential and ephemeris data from the satellites. It generally pulls it over a cellular connection, which is very quick.

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I cache in a lot of places with no cell reception...
FWIW, I use my phone in places with no cell reception. Obviously, I can't download live cache data or maps, but the apps have worked just fine with preloaded cache data and the phone's GPS system.

But it can affect your accuracy, as it takes a good while longer to download the differential and ephemeris data from the satellites. It generally pulls it over a cellular connection, which is very quick.

 

Interesting. Does this apply to every smartphone vs every GPS and do you have a link to a testing website?

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Interesting. Does this apply to every smartphone vs every GPS and do you have a link to a testing website?

 

Google GPS-A or "Assisted GPS" it is very common with smartphones

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But it can affect your accuracy, as it takes a good while longer to download the differential and ephemeris data from the satellites. It generally pulls it over a cellular connection, which is very quick.
Yes, and I especially notice the delay when I travel some distance with the phone off, and then turn it on somewhere with no cell/data coverage. But I don't really notice any delay when I have the phone on somewhere with cell/data coverage, with a GPS lock, and then travel somewhere with no cell/data coverage, while maintaining a GPS lock.

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But it can affect your accuracy, as it takes a good while longer to download the differential and ephemeris data from the satellites. It generally pulls it over a cellular connection, which is very quick.
Yes, and I especially notice the delay when I travel some distance with the phone off, and then turn it on somewhere with no cell/data coverage. But I don't really notice any delay when I have the phone on somewhere with cell/data coverage, with a GPS lock, and then travel somewhere with no cell/data coverage, while maintaining a GPS lock.

 

You won't because you already have the lock, and how much of a difference are we talking? 10 minutes is a bit much but I've got no problem waiting a minute or two. And is there any difference with a GPSr that has no Internet connection anyway?

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And is there any difference with a GPSr that has no Internet connection anyway?
No, not really. If you turn your GPSr on after moving it, then it's going to download the same information from the GPS satellites, and it never had the AGPS system available as a shortcut.

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Looks like I'll be shopping for a gpsr to supplement my iPhone use ;)

Thanks to all!

A GPSr can be quite expensive for someone new to caching. A far cheaper option to start with is getting a powerbar, basically the higher the mAh rating the more "juice" it will store. A typical one from Amazon etc will put you back about £15 ($20) and be able to recharge an iPhone 6S up to three times from flat battery to fully charged. A more expensive one will cost nearer £25 ($40) and recharge up to 7 times. A GPSr will cost around £100-£500 ($150-$750) so you need to think carefully about why you want one.

 

A modern phone has an accuracy of 5-10m this gets worse when you have no mobile signal or are under tree cover etc. A typical GPSr has an accuracy of 3-5m and isn't affected by mobile signal coverage but is similarly affected to a lesser extent by tree cover.

 

Basically if you can afford it and are very keen a GPSr is handy to have for remote/forest caches.

 

I've done both and splashed the cash on a Garmin Touch 25 it works well but be aware the big downside of a GPSr is the constant need to plug it into a laptop to refresh its data and list of caches. I've found I drift back to my iPhone 6s again and again and only really use the GPSr when the accuracy of the phone is a pain. As such I feel I wasted my money on the GPSr.

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I keep a Garmin in the car, but I primarily use the sat map on my iPhone 6. I try to rely on geosense rather than chase the compass needle in circles. The smartphone also has the advantage of being able to pull up cache photos or read through past logs if the cache proves to be elusive. While my GPSr tends to be more accurate, it can only be as accurate as the CO's coordinates. And if the CO used their 4 year old smartphone to pin GZ, then you should be able to hone right in on that cache which is hidden in the middle of the street or inside a building. :)

Edited by cleandrysurface

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