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iPhone GPS - is it any good yet? Matching Garmin?

SparklehorseSparklehorse Posts: 126
Hi,

Thinking of ways to justify buying an iPhone :oops:

It strikes me I could sell my Garmin Edge and use the iPhone GPS - about 6mths ago I think the consensus was it was a bit shite. I can see a fairly highly rated app called B.iCycle in the iTunes Store.

Is anyone successfully using the iPhone as a route planner? I'm guessing the big screen is a bonus but what about minuses? Fitting to handlebars? Battery Life?

Posts

  • Short answer - no.

    There are a million reasons to buy an iPhone, but unless you're in a car or just need on-the-spot directions, then GPS isn't one of them; simply because the iPhone's battery life isn't up to it. The sort of GPS we need on our bikes needs it to be permanently turned on, and it only realistically has a day's battery life on standby with the occasional call, text and email. With GPS tracking your ride I'd be suprised if you got more than a few hours out of it. Also, it hasn't been designed as a weatherproof or shockproof device so I'd worry about how long it would cope with the abuse. At least in a car it can be plugged in and on charge; so the iPhone TomTom app, for instance, turns it into a practical a fully functional GPS.

    There are cycle handlebar mounts available, and I'm sure there are folk out there using it for this. I personally won't be changing from my Garmin Edge 705 any time soon.

    In almost every other way I swear by my iPhone though. The gf calls it 'my other girlfriend'.
    Litespeed Tuscany, Hope/Open Pro, Ultegra, pulling an Extrawheel trailer, often as not.

    FCR 4 (I think?)
    Twitter: @jimjmcdonnell
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    I use my Nokia 5800 for GPS when running, walking, cycling and driving (even canoeing on one occasion, don't recommend that though!). Weatherproofing? Wrap it in clingfilm!
    Cheaper than iphone, GPS works fine, battery life is not a problem (>12 hours with GPS on long car journeys - and I have a spare battery, something you can't get for, err, some other phones).
    Only, unlike the iphone, it doesn't come with a feeling of smug superiority as standard.
  • thanks guys, useful tips.

    Bompington - do you use any specific software? Nokia Sporttracks for instance? Or just Google Earth/Maps?
  • Only, unlike the iphone, it doesn't come with a feeling of smug superiority as standard.


    Although evidently the Nokia does come with a chip on its shoulder. :roll:
    Litespeed Tuscany, Hope/Open Pro, Ultegra, pulling an Extrawheel trailer, often as not.

    FCR 4 (I think?)
    Twitter: @jimjmcdonnell
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    thanks guys, useful tips.

    Bompington - do you use any specific software? Nokia Sporttracks for instance? Or just Google Earth/Maps?
    Sportstracker is the one for speed/distance/recording routes, it's quite accurate for cycling (distance on my commute always comes up +/-0.5% compared to bike computer and Memory Map) although it seems to jump a bit when stationary or walking slowly.
    I think it comes with the phone, can't remember for sure, but you can certainly download it for free. It's good for recording journey stats & plotting routes, I've even used it to generate simple orienteering maps for kids.
    Nokia Maps comes with the phone, it's pretty effective for navigation inc. voice guidance, but I don't think it records speed, distance etc (though it will tell you if you're going over the limit, very satisfying).
    I've tried ViewRanger for the OS 50 and 25 thou maps, it looks OK but you've got to pay through the nose to get the actual maps, & I'm a stingy git (hence my dislike of the iphone)
  • I was looking at the specs of the iphone yesterday, I am thinking of getting one. However, as far as I could tell, the GPS does not work off the usual satellites but uses the phone masts instead. Is this correct.
    I have only two things to say to that; Bo***cks
  • I thought IPhone (and for that matter IPod Touch) calculates its position based on Wireless Hotspots/Routers. So the positioning is somewhat patchy - my Ipod touch only knows where it is when it's at home!

    Anyway, Garmin is 'the' GPS system for Cycling, Running, etc - stands to reason,as GPS receivers is Garmin's business!
  • bompington wrote:
    I've tried ViewRanger for the OS 50 and 25 thou maps, it looks OK but you've got to pay through the nose to get the actual maps, & I'm a stingy git (hence my dislike of the iphone)

    I paid £25 for Viewranger software with the Lake District national park maps. I can't see that that is paying through the nose. Viewranger is a stunning piece of software and works a treat. I cannot see how anyone can justify paying a few hundred pound plus for a Garmin when they could get Viewranger for a fraction of the price. Also the support from the guys at Viewranger is second to none.

    I was using Viewranger on my N95 and it worked that well when I upgraded my phone I made sure I got a phone running Symbian S60 operating system and plumped for the Nokia 5800. I am seriously impressed with the battery life when using viewranger on this phone. It hardly impacted on the battery life at all after a 3 hour ride. I was recharging my N95 every day but the 5800 is going 2-3 days between charges.

    If you have a supported phone get Viewranger you wont regret it.
  • I was looking at the specs of the iphone yesterday, I am thinking of getting one. However, as far as I could tell, the GPS does not work off the usual satellites but uses the phone masts instead. Is this correct.

    Nope the Iphone 3g and 3gs use aGPS, not triangulation from the phone masts (which the original iphone did).

    I use mine when out cycling occasionally and it works fine. However, if I fell off my bike and cracked the screen it would be an expensive cry all the way home!!
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,473
    If you had an iPhone but not a Garmin then it could be justified.
    Routefinder apps are available and more clamps are becoming available.
    There are also covers to protect from the elements but I am not sure about vibration.

    And yes, you can get an extra plug on battery for extra life. :twisted:

    I currently get around 3 hours of constant GPS use in the car on my 3GS with the standard battery.

    As you already have the Garmin it is not the best excuse.
    There are others though. You choose :wink:
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • hammeritehammerite Posts: 3,408
    Am I right in thinking that only the iPhone 3GS can work as a true navigational device?

    My understanding is that the 3G (that I have) doesn't have a compass, where as the 3GS does. This means that the maps on a 3GS will automatically re-orientate themselves, where as on a 3G you need to be aware of where north is to orientate the map (and phone) accordingly.

    I've used an exercise tracking app on my iPhone that uses GPS, I only rode for an hour and the battery had reduced by about 75%.
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,473
    All I can add is that the 3GS does orientate itself and it does have longer battery life.
    Two reasons why I waited.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • xraymtbxraymtb Posts: 121
    I have both - wouldnt ever use the iPhone as a GPS bike computer.

    The battery life is terrible - 3 hrs at most on GPS. The apps are mediocre when it comes to GPS tracking and there is no HR or cadence attachments. That and the replacement cost should the worst happen is a lot higher.
    exercise.png
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