$100 GPS vs Garmin...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    $100 GPS vs Garmin...

    Looking into the whole GPS thing and read through many threads... a lot of which isn't current. What is the difference in user capability between running a $100 Smartphone running offline apps and the latest Garmin offerings for GPS and trail tracking/navigation?

  2. #2
    Sneaker man
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    there is probably plenty of discussions on this in the GPS section of the forum... or on DCrainmaker.
    But biggest things is what you want to use the GPS for
    biggest factors would be;
    GPS accuracy
    battery life
    connectivity to sensors
    real time use


    Personally I found for what I wanted a phone was craptastic, having a gps watch was better and having a gps cycle computer was great. Other people have found using a phone to be perfectly acceptable for their usage.
    All the gear and no idea.

  3. #3
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    I prefer to have my phone tucked away in my pack. I don't use navigation for my rides, I just want stats, heart rate etc, bike computer stuff. I like the fact Garmin I have (520) shows text messages on screen, and who is calling. So I can decide whether I need to stop and dig my phone out.

  4. #4
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    Agree with Mudguard and will add: The Garmin 520 and others support wheel sensors, which greatly improve distance and speed recording over GPS alone. The 520 coupled to a cell phone will automatically upload your ride to Garmin Connect website and also offers Incident Detection and notification. ie If you crash it can text someone and tell them where you are.


    My riding buddy uses just his phone GPS and is happy. But it is worth noting that sometimes our distances are as much as 20% off of each other for the same ride.

  5. #5
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    Assuming the phone will receive the sensors (ANT+ or bluetooth smart/LE) the phone is way better, except for size, robustness and battery life. I've had 7 different Garmin Edge GPSs and currently use an Edge 820 and 520.

    My Samsung Galaxy S8 receives both ANT+ and BTLE. As far as phone GPS accuracy, it's generally the app not the hardware; how often it records position, how it calculates distance, and whether or not it uses a wheel sensor.
    What, me worry?

  6. #6
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    So I headed out on my ride this morning with my $92 Plum Gator 4 in my pack (still considering a bike mount). I recorded my ride with Trailforks (avg. speed, distance, time) which worked out great and has the options of TOPO or Satelite maps. Also ran my HR monitor connected via bluetooth... it will be interesting to see how many hours I can get out of the 5000mAh battery. So now I'm thinking of adding a bluetooth wheel sensor to the package... I also uploaded the MTB Project, but hadn't had a chance to mess with it yet.

  7. #7
    since 4/10/2009
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    There's a whole forum dedicated to these questions, where you'll find lots of recent topics.

    It's more or less fallen out that phones are fine for basic/entry level recording, but they DO lack accuracy (which is HEAVILY dependent on both the phone hardware AND the app) compared to high end dedicated GPS hardware that's mounted optimally for best reception.

    Raw GPS data from just about every phone is terrible. But most people never see that. They see the heavily massaged data run through processing algorithms on whatever app they use (some are better than others). But even still, I can look at most GPS tracks and tell you if it came from a phone or dedicated hardware. It does matter.

    Saying the phone is better, EXCEPT for x, y, and z is kinda silly. It's not better at x, y, and z. So how IS it better? Honestly, ease of use MAYBE, but I find that even that's not a clear win for phones. I don't like touchscreens on the bike. They act up when my hands are sweaty. They're not quite so precise with gloves hands. It's hard to get the correct button press at times in either situation. Sometimes downright impossible. I want simple, with physical buttons for a bike computer. So a phone just doesn't cut it. Nor does a touchscreen bike computer. Been there, done that.

    But I'm also not a basic/entry level GPS user. I use a $10,000 GPS receiver at work. I have been riding for quite awhile. I know what I like.

  8. #8
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    For on the go navigation a lot of the standard Garmin models leave a lot to be desired. Your phone will do a better job than most of them. Some of the newest ones I think have turn by turn and live mapping with a big enough screen for it to be useful. They are good at tracking stuff to look at after the fact like power heart rate route details etc.
    Your phone would probably be as good or better than most for navigation except that it's big and unwieldy on the bars.

  9. #9
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Baird View Post
    For on the go navigation a lot of the standard Garmin models leave a lot to be desired. Your phone will do a better job than most of them. Some of the newest ones I think have turn by turn and live mapping with a big enough screen for it to be useful. They are good at tracking stuff to look at after the fact like power heart rate route details etc.
    Your phone would probably be as good or better than most for navigation except that it's big and unwieldy on the bars.
    IME, navigating roads and trails are entirely different scenarios regardless of the device you use to do so. Road nav is pretty reliable either way. Trail nav depends HEAVILY on quality of the underlying data, which is often not very good for trails. Even if there is something showing the general idea, its accuracy is often low.

    Road data is usually highly accurate.

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrdrokn View Post
    a $100 Smartphone running offline apps
    wait, what smartphone can be found for $100?

    I know someone who did a somewhat scientific study of several GPS tracking options and compared them. I'll see if it's publicly available.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    wait, what smartphone can be found for $100?
    That's what I paid for mine, a Motorola g-something.

    When I go on group rides my data seems in line with everyone else who are using Garmins or whatever, same distance and similar elevation.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    That's what I paid for mine, a Motorola g-something.
    sorry to hijack the thread, but was that the regular new price to buy it outright, or was that with a contract or an old phone that was on sale? my point is that a smart phone with a $100 MSRP is rare, so the question seemed kinda weird to start. why that figure? why not a $200 smart phone or a $800 smart phone? what does the price of the phone have to do with anything?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    sorry to hijack the thread, but was that the regular new price to buy it outright, or was that with a contract or an old phone that was on sale?

    Regular price.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  14. #14
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    That's what I paid for mine, a Motorola g-something.

    When I go on group rides my data seems in line with everyone else who are using Garmins or whatever, same distance and similar elevation.
    Superficially it might. But I guarantee there are still big differences

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Superficially it might. But I guarantee there are still big differences

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk


    I'm sure there are but if I go on a ride and record 23.7 miles with 1,750 ft. elevation and 5 other people on the ride with garmins record an average of 23 1/2 miles and ~1,700 feet then superficial is good enough for me.

    Not saying that a dedicated gps doesn't have advantages but most people already own a smartphone and for many of them it will do just fine for recording rides and basic navigation.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  16. #16
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    Metro pcs has 16gb smart fones that are dirt cheap, I have one just for riding, and have all my cycling apps and pictures. I do pay for the line but I pay $70xmonth for both lines.

    I ride alone often, so having a phone line is important to me.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    wait, what smartphone can be found for $100?
    Try this.....

    https://www.ebay.com/i/122909631137?chn=ps

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrdrokn View Post
    Looking into the whole GPS thing and read through many threads... a lot of which isn't current. What is the difference in user capability between running a $100 Smartphone running offline apps and the latest Garmin offerings for GPS and trail tracking/navigation?
    For ease of use my iphone works great to upload to strava. I set it, stick it in my pocket or pack, ride, and upload when done.

    I also have eTrex30 I used to follow tracks. This is handy for long rides trying to follow a certain path where trails are not marked or there is a maze of trails. The eTrex has base maps so I get contour intervals of where I am riding real time. The downside is this model is a pain to upload.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", 19' Vassago Optimus Ti SS 29", '19 Ibis Ripmo, XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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