GPS: Smartphone App vs. Dedicated System

Mobile GPS has improved A LOT over the last decade. Today’s GPS applications provide us with accurate, up-to-date maps, restaurant and lodging suggestions, contact information, and so much more. Why then is the debate between smartphone apps and dedicated systems still ongoing? In this article, we will do our best to cover the pros and cons of both options and at the end, provide you with our best recommendation.

Pros of Smartphone GPS

Most of us at least once in our lives have had to use our smartphones to find a certain location. Utilizing the GPS system residing already on our phones can provide us with a plethora of benefits. Since your phone is constantly connected to a cellular network, your phone can provide you with up-to-date information on your destination. This means that if traffic is halted or detoured, it will inform you of it as it happens. 77 percent of smartphone users use navigation apps regularly. That’s a good thing, as it provides valuable data that only helps to improve the accuracy of the application being used. In addition, cell phone GPS has the benefit of being able to be carried almost anywhere as well as be placed almost anywhere in your car.

Cons of Smartphone GPS

Although smartphone GPS does hold a tremendous amount of advantages to its dedicated system counterpart, all of those features can be shut down in an instant. What do we mean about the risk of a rapid shutdown? Smartphone GPS runs entirely on its respective network; thus, if that network experiences a crash due to the distance of a tower or a malfunction with the satellite, you are essentially cut off. No guided direction, no ability to call someone and ask them for directions. All you can do is sit and wait until the connection is restored. This can be especially dangerous if you are relying on your phone’s GPS to guide yourself through thick woods or a nature trail.

Pros of Dedicated GPS

With all that said, let’s now move on to the pros of a dedicated GPS system. Although much more expensive, a dedicated GPS system is considered the most reliable of the two. It does not need an independent entity such as cell coverage to keep its maintenance up constantly. In addition, they have a large enough display to where you will not have to squint at the screen and distract yourself from driving your vehicle. Speaking of displays, unlike the mobile app version, dedicated GPS systems hold a big advantage as not only are they more durable but allow you to add additional information for optimal accuracy. There is no doubt that dedicated GPS wins in the durability area.

Cons of Dedicated GPS

The cons of a dedicated GPS system are far and few between but they are often enough to detour people from going that route. One of the most obvious concerns about purchasing this version is that it’s not convenient to carry. Most of these devices are bulky products that can easily increase the weight of your equipment. Another disadvantage is that a dedicated GPS needs to be updated manually and some additional maps or upgrades may not be free. In addition, they are not the best for traveling in the city. If you are looking for an everyday in-city GPS, then the much cheaper alternative mobile GPS may be your best bet.

What Wins?

Now we come to a decision, which one is better? Dedicated GPS or a smartphone app? Although a smartphone GPS app does run the risk of leaving you stranded with no direction, those blackouts are rare even in the smallest communities. However, even that rarity must be introduced into the decision-making process due to the peace of mind that you can get with a dedicated GPS system. 

Now, let’s talk price. Sure, new mobile phones come with a pretty hefty price tag, but they are not only used for GPS systems but other daily needs as well. Dedicated GPS system prices run between $80 to over $1,000 depending on the model you choose. This may not be the best financial decision for those not using their GPS for deep-woods hiking or other heavy use. So, what’s our call? If we had to decide on one, we would go with a smartphone GPS app. Now, we came to this conclusion based on potential growth and actual time we would use it. Smartphone GPS apps are growing by leaps and bounds every year, both in their accuracy and features such as 3D viewing of terrain and buildings. 

Although we may not have chosen your preferred option, it does not mean that one is clearly better than the other. It simply means that practicality and amount of use that it will see plays a big role in this decision. We highly recommend further educating yourself on both systems as this is only the tip of the iceberg that GPS apps and dedicated systems have to offer.

Was this article interesting? Read more: Google Maps adds Location Sharing

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