There’s no doubt that smartphones have recently breeched GPS territory. Yet, these phones have a few problems that GPS units conquered long ago. While compact and convenient, smartphones haven’t quite taken over GPS territory. Solely based upon navigational capabilities, a GPS device is a better option than a smartphone.
Smartphones are great for calling friends, social networking, and reading emails. These phones are not great when it comes to reading maps and following directions. The size of a smartphone screen makes it hard to effectively follow a map without risking a car accident. Hazards aside, a smartphone has other limitations.
Mounting a smartphone on a windshield is possible, though costly. GPS systems come with windshield mounts in-box. Another problem with using a smartphone as a GPS is the overall price of a smartphone. A basic GPS systems costs around $120. A smartphone can exceed more than $350 (when contracts, data plans, service fees, and apps are added).
Where Smartphone Excels
For all of its limitations, a smartphone does have some benefits over the average GPS system. Smartphones are continuously connected to a cellular network and to the Internet. Basic GPS systems might not use cellular networks or the Internet. Then again, the smartphone app that you choose many not include a wide array of connectivity options. You’ll also have to pay a monthly fee in order to use a GPS app on a smartphone.
A smartphone will always have the latest map information. This is the biggest advantage that a smartphone has over a GPS system. Maps that are downloaded regularly will get you where you’re going better than a GPS map that has to be updated every couple of years. While important, map quality may not outweigh the limitations of a smartphone.
Why GPS Is Best
There’s no doubt that a smartphone can do things a GPS can’t do. Yet, a GPS system has one sole purpose: to provide efficient driving directions. As such, GPS devices were built to provide a larger viewing screen, better window mounting capabilities, and turn-by-turn instructions. In contrast, smartphones were meant to be a step up from a regular cellphone.
A smartphone GPS app has its place too. If you only care about getting to places on foot, a smartphone is a great walking tour guide. In this instance, a smartphone will get you where you’re going (and anyone who tries to steal your phone in the process will be hunted down a lot easier with the help of GPS). If you intend on spending long hours in your car trying to find discrete locations, a GPS device is best.