Anyone use ruggedized (unlocked) cell phone for MTB cycling computer?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Anyone use ruggedized (unlocked) cell phone for MTB cycling computer?

    I have been using my iPhone as a cycle computer on my MTB. AllTrails is my preferred app. My phone took a beating during a recent crash, so looking for other options. The mapping Garmin units are very expensive and are uni-taskers as far as I am concerned.
    Anyone try one of the “rugged” cell phones from Amazon for use as a cycle computer? I’m not planning on getting cell service, just using it offline while on the trail. Units like the Blackview BV5900 or OUKITEL WP5 are like $150, and look pretty capable.


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  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
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    You still have limitations in doing so. Namely with GPS data quality. A lot of phones are pretty bad in this regard, and it's next to impossible to get a good assessment of this before buying. Especially problematic because almost all phones use cell tower triangulation and wifi signals to improve the locations they supply. Which you obviously aren't going to get in the woods without cell service activated.

    There are times when something like this will work well, but for riding in the woods, there's a reason that the "uni-tasker" devices as you call them really are better.

    It'll "work" in the sense that you'll get data from it. But if you overlay that data on top of something from a dedicated bike GPS, the difference becomes obvious.

    Besides, phones are just too big to strap them to the bars. Which means putting it in your pocket or your pack and that has its own problems and limitations.

    Buy a used or refurb dedicated device if you want to save some money. Plenty of those on the market with plenty of life still.

    I keep my phone on me and I still use it for riding, but not as a recording device. I use it to access multiple map databases for navigation, especially when traveling, and quality physical maps may or may not be available. That can be done with a wifi only device, too, but having the ability to call out (at least in spots with reception) can be valuable.

  3. #3
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    Great advice, thanks!
    GPS data quality is important, so I’ll probably end up biting the bullet eventually. Probably not a good time to pick up a Garmin device, considering the challenges they are having these days.


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  4. #4
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew.baker.142 View Post
    Great advice, thanks!
    GPS data quality is important, so I’ll probably end up biting the bullet eventually. Probably not a good time to pick up a Garmin device, considering the challenges they are having these days.


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    Unlike some manufacturers, buying a Garmin does not 100% rope you into their software universe before you can export out of it.

    It's pretty easy for 3rd party companies to work directly with Garmin hardware.

    But, there are other competitive options out there like Wahoo and Lezyne depending on which features you value more.

  5. #5
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    The cell phones I had/have were pretty good GPS wise (Samsung Galaxies which receive GPS and GLONASS). I'll just mention that you don't need a cell plan/data to use a cell phone as cycling computer. GPS reception still works and you can use apps that allow downloading the maps. You up/down load courses, activities, and apps via wifi or usb cable. So, if you have an old cell without a plan, you can use that rather than risk your fancy high-dollar phone.
    What, me worry?

  6. #6
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    Probably the best time to pick up a Garmin

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