Dec 10

Is a smartphone GPS Good Enough?

Submitted for your approval.


The Garmin’s recorded track (red) precisely follows the actual trail as shown by Google Earth.

The Samsung phone (blue) … is usually in the right zip code.


Garmin 62st, latest firmware. GPS was clipped to a belt loop of my pants during the hike.

Samsung Galaxy S3, running “GPSLogger” from Google Play. Phone was in my shirt pocket during the hike.

1 comment

  1. Jim

    I used my iPhone to create a track for a hike at Mt. Diablo last year. http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1513385&code=a3186ea851adfa88fb74e61e00180a53 I was very happy with the accuracy of the track. I expect that my Garmin GPS map 76 S would have done no better. My only complaint about the iPhone is the short battery life. I think the iPhone or even the Samsung is capable of producing a good track if it can receive signals from several satellites. It is very important to carry the receiver where it can get the best signal. I like to put it on top of my day pack or on my shoulders. The top of my head would be even better, but that is not easy to do. I have considered putting a remote antenna on top of my head. A shirt pocket is not the best place to carry the receiver, whether it is a Garmin or a cell phone. The belt is not much better. The body is often over the receiver, and blocking the signal from the satellites. The signal will be lost from time to time, and the track will have gaps or interpolations. The track will not be accurate if the receiver is getting signals from only one or two satellites. Six or more is ideal. This is sometimes very difficult or impossible in mountains or trees. Mountains and trees both block the signal from satellites. When using my Garmin GPS map 76S I always know how many satellites I am receiving a signal from. That is not the case with my iPhone. Try clipping your phone to the shoulder strap of your backpack, or the collar of your jacket or shirt. you will get a better track that way.

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