View Full Version : Stand alone GPS vs. Smartphone w/ GPS

12-12-2009, 10:56 AM
Now that Google is offering free GPS service on droids, and many smartphones can use these free services, with live traffic updates, is it time to trash that Garmin/Tom-Tom/Magellan and use your phone for directions and traffic info, or should we hang on to the GPS?
At one time, I subscribed to Navigator on my LG vx8700 and ran in to a few problems; it didn't work outside native VZW areas, if I got a phone call, it would not remind me of an upcoming exit, and the traffic warnings did not happen until I was stuck in traffic without options of getting out. So I opted for a Garmin and glad I did. I use my phone to look up traffic reports on sites like traffic.com and can plan my trip well ahead of getting stuck in a back-up. But now it's time to buy an updated map at $70 for one, $120 for unlimited updates (up to 4 times a year), get a newer GPS, or a smartphone with GPS apps. Can be expensive with two GPSs in the family.
I wonder how the newer generation of smartphones and GPS apps are working out. Better than stand alone GPS units? Are traffic updates timely? Convenient and easy to use, or complex to set up? And does it work outside the native coverage area? What has been your experience?

12-13-2009, 11:19 PM
I am also interested in this because I would like to buy a used smartphone (Possibly HTC Touch) from ebay to use as a wifi internet device and secondary GPS. But I will NOT be buying any cell service for it.

Do internal GPS work if there is no cell towers to talk to?

12-15-2009, 06:48 AM
i use Bing for traffic and am very pleased with the results on my Omnia. for turn by turn I use amAze app
Lena I used Bing on my Dare for traffic,gas prices etc. since vznav was flaky and NEVER remembered settings(different story) and it worked almost as good as 511(state road traffic update) but no turn by turn

12-16-2009, 07:41 AM
If you drive outside of a Verizon service area you can still loose the map data, but some say if you scroll the map into that area ahead of time it will cache the data and it looks like there are some third party apps that will cache map data as well. That seems to be the main advantage of a dedicated GPS currently, until somone such as Garmin or TomTom releases software for the smartphones that lets you use their whole map set.
Other than that my droid is every bit as good as one of the car navigation GPS devices, it isn't quite as good as my Garmin handheld though. I can turn on the phone maps inside a building and it will never get a signal but my handheld can since its designed for hiking and such its designed to get the signal through thick trees. I'm hoping that since there are sites that offer free Garmin maps that means the format is reverse engineered so it wouldn't take much for someone to make an android app to read garmin maps. The sd card in my gps is only 2G and that covers the 48 states with their city navigator product and the states east of the mississippi with topo maps so a lot of maps can fit in that 2G card which means I could easily hold a lot on a 16G card in the droid.

12-17-2009, 01:51 PM
Besides the loss of data if one leaves cellular coverage, there are a couple of other advantages for me that convince me to keep the stand-alone navigator.

a. The steps required to get google navigator going is too cumbersome to employ each time I get in the car, so I wait until I need navigation to go through it all. My phone can sometimes take several minutes to gain a gps fix and even then if I leave it on the dashboard. Of course, I am usually driving, so this means pulling over to complete the steps or risk everyone's safety trying to get things going. My Garmin is in the car and comes on when I start the car and is ready when I need it without intervention on my part.
b. My car does not have a hands-free capability. The Garmin is nice that it can be used in this way.

For these reasons, I prefer the Garmin for my primary navigation device. I consider the phone to be backup or for use when I am away from the Garmin for whatever reason.

Interesting topic!

12-18-2009, 10:36 AM
A phone will not compare with a standalone gps system. I had the TomTom app on my iphone and that was about as close as you could get but it was not as good as a standalone system. Esp if you are driving around looking for a certain place and your phone rings with a call you need to take. Then you have a decision on directions or the call.

12-18-2009, 05:24 PM
Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8330/ Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

I will keep my Tom Tom stand alone mainly due to how convienient it is. Not to mention loss of data when cell coverage is lost. What about using the phone? Sounds like it would be more irritating than helpful.

12-19-2009, 12:57 PM
I run my Droid and a Garmin nuvi concurrently as I drive, and can say the Nuvi wins every time!

1. Can't beat a 4.3in screen for entering addresses.

2. Google's routing engine needs some tuning because the routes they plan are frequently lousy compared to Garmin's.

3. Garmin's car mount is much better than any other I've used to date, USB can't compete.

4. Much better visuals on a PND than on any phone I've used!

Sorry, but a courier knows!