Using a phone as a GPS

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
nirakaro
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Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Using a phone as a GPS

Postby nirakaro » 29 Jul 2011, 7:46pm

I’m looking at replacing my antiquated GPS, and wondering about using a Nokia phone (financial considerations make the free maps very attractive): either a 5230 or a 5800, it seems will do the trick.
I’m not bothered about its not being weatherproof, because I’m a wimp where rain is concerned, and I don’t need it to measure my heartbeat, count my calories, or even plan my route – I just like having a map with a ‘You Are Here’ on it. I realise that there’ll be limited battery life, but I imagine spare batteries or an external battery pack will solve that.
I wonder if there are other issues that I haven’t thought of, and whether anyone has experience of these phones, positive or negative, to enlighten me? Or suggestions of alternatives?

GrahamNR17
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Joined: 15 Nov 2009, 6:31pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby GrahamNR17 » 29 Jul 2011, 8:02pm

I have a 5800 and been using it for a couple of years. Mapping software is limited to the bundled SatNav system (Ovi Maps) which is pretty dreadful unless you're on an A-class road and major B class. Google Maps is probably as good as it gets on that particular phone, though obviously you won't get Ordnance Survey mapping quality.

But as a straightforward "you are here" system it works perfectly adequately.

nmnm
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Joined: 14 Nov 2010, 6:03pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby nmnm » 29 Jul 2011, 9:15pm

I agree. I took a 5800 with me to France recently. Great for snapping a pic and sending it to relatives, not so great as a map replacement. Sometimes I'd cycle beyond the map without spotting a shop to buy a new map in and I'd fall back on photographing those info boards you see around. Then I'd get lost and in this situation the 5800 would come out and guide me back on track. I only used it for this, emergency level scenario because although the battery life in symbian phones is pretty good, it would die after 30 minutes of gps (no way to have Maps open but gps off) and the tiny screen as with all smartphones gives no sense of an overview.

If you do get a smartphone with thoughts of cycling in France, check data roaming bundle costs first - last I checked t-mobile was a quarter of the price of the others on this one aspect.

iandriver
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Joined: 10 Jun 2009, 2:09pm
Location: Cambridge.

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby iandriver » 29 Jul 2011, 9:54pm

My 5230 is great as a YOU ARE HERE. Works offline, so no need for a signal, the serious downfall to things like google maps. I find out in the country, navigation is pretty easy without sat nav. Once in a larger town, the sat nav feature again becomes invaluable. It's no replacement for maps or a bike specific type high end Garmin, but as a backup, great.

Nokia also do a bicycle charger, though they get mixed reviews:

http://europe.nokia.com/find-products/a ... harger-kit
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

Reigncloud
Posts: 127
Joined: 2 Mar 2011, 2:00pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby Reigncloud » 5 Aug 2011, 11:28am

I've been doing this for years. Highly recommend it. See my posts here:

http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=46919

and here:

http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=52283&p=441479#p441479

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massimo
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Location: Rome (Italy)
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Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby massimo » 8 Aug 2011, 9:47am

I have Nokia 5800 and I found it very useful.
I have downloaded the nokia sport tracker http://www.sports-tracker.com/
a simple program which is used to analyse performance and share tracks but which I use to have an additional road/tracks atlas.
In fact I have downloaded a PC program (mobile atlas creator) http://mobac.sourceforge.net/
which allow you to upload several maps on your device (google maps, yahoo maps, ordnance survey maps etc...)

Southy83
Posts: 19
Joined: 15 May 2011, 8:24pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby Southy83 » 17 Aug 2011, 10:18am

Hi,

I have also been looking at budget GPS options for a while and currently have an HTC Desire HD (which drains the battery v.quick, so is not practicle for cycling).

However, I still have a Nokia 5230 in my glove box which I use as a sat-nav (all the offline apps work without a sim-card). I have installed Trek-Buddy on it http://www.trekbuddy.net, with this, you can then create an atlas (map) from openstreetmap data (using mobile atlas creator) and import or log .gpx tracks.

The beauty of this is that if you are following a pre-determined .gpx file (for a sportive etc) you can download the route and follow it on the mobile.

If you are doing long rides/tours, you can also get a dynamo charger for about £25 and I am also looking into whether I buy a bluetooth GPS receiver (about £15) as the Nokia can sometimes take its time tracking a satellite.

Cheers

James

Malaconotus
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Joined: 30 Jul 2010, 11:31pm
Location: Chapel Allerton, Leeds

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby Malaconotus » 17 Aug 2011, 11:06am

nirakaro wrote:antiquated GPS


Lord, that makes me feel old.

I'm only forty!

stewartpratt
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Joined: 27 Dec 2007, 5:12pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby stewartpratt » 17 Aug 2011, 11:19am

GrahamNR17 wrote:Mapping software is limited to the bundled SatNav system (Ovi Maps) which is pretty dreadful unless you're on an A-class road and major B class. Google Maps is probably as good as it gets on that particular phone, though obviously you won't get Ordnance Survey mapping quality.


Viewranger. Cheap, highly functional and will work with OSM (free, including OpenCycleMap) or OS (at cost) maps. Also now has online route planning at MyViewranger which you can sync to the phone (though it's a fully manually-edited path rather than a directable autorouter à la Google Maps or Bikeroutetoaster). I forget how easy it is to preload the map cache on the Symbian version - I mostly use the Android one these days.

One thing you might want for longer rides is a spare battery. With the GPS permanently on and the screen and radios off, the 5800 will do about 12 hours on the stock battery. Turning the phone radio on will diminish that a bit and having the screen on full-time for navigation will affect it quite significantly (though I haven't tested how much).

nirakaro
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Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby nirakaro » 17 Aug 2011, 4:11pm

I have a certain, quite limited, brand loyalty to Nokia, and I'm wondering what other brands are out there that'll do the job as well, or better. Any views?

stewartpratt
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Joined: 27 Dec 2007, 5:12pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby stewartpratt » 17 Aug 2011, 4:52pm

nirakaro wrote:I have a certain, quite limited, brand loyalty to Nokia, and I'm wondering what other brands are out there that'll do the job as well, or better. Any views?


Er... pretty much anything works as well or better, but it depends on precisely what you want.

The Motorola Defy (Android) is sufficiently ruggedized to be readily used in all conditions - nothing else is AFAIK. Android phones and the iPhone all have a plethora of apps to choose from; from there you're largely into subtleties of battery life (none are good, so it's then a matter of swappable batteries vs extended batteries vs piggyback batteries - each have minor advantages/disadvantages). All modern phones have decent GPS performance and decent touchscreens.

Reigncloud
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Joined: 2 Mar 2011, 2:00pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby Reigncloud » 17 Aug 2011, 6:10pm

stewartpratt wrote:
nirakaro wrote:Android phones and the iPhone all have a plethora of apps to choose from; from there you're largely into subtleties of battery life (none are good, so it's then a matter of swappable batteries vs extended batteries vs piggyback batteries - each have minor advantages/disadvantages). All modern phones have decent GPS performance and decent touchscreens.


I can't wait until battery technology has moved on to the point where battery life on these things is usable for, say, a day's riding with the GPS and network connection switched on. I might be waiting a few years for this though! I imagine by that stage I'll also be less paranoid about taking my android phone on tour as well, given the potential to be stolen or for fall off the bike while riding (this has happened couple of times now with my old Nokia strapped to the bars as a satnav, and each time it came out virtually unscathed - score!)

stewartpratt
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Joined: 27 Dec 2007, 5:12pm

Re: Using a phone as a GPS

Postby stewartpratt » 17 Aug 2011, 6:29pm

It's not battery technology that's the issue, it's that manufacturers insist on producing the thinnest phones they can. Add about 3mm or so to the thickness and you could double the battery life (and make the phone easier to hold) but that's not even offered as an option.

Life also depends on what you're doing. Navigation generally demands the GPS be on full time, but for logging that's not necessary. Last weekend I was logging our 24hr London-Paris ride to the web on the fly, taking a position from the GPS every 3 minutes and uploading to the web every 8. That chewed 25% of the battery every 6 hours, so would have been good for about 22 hours before the phone would have shut itself down. I charged it on the ferry and didn't need the piggyback battery I'd bought.