Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

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al_yrpal
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Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby al_yrpal » 29 Nov 2015, 4:40pm

Smartphone GPS

I said I would put a review here for anyone considering using a smartphone for navigation. My relatively ancient Android smartphone had a poor battery life and when I bought a new one I wanted something inexpensive with 4G which was small enough to fit easily in a pocket and which had a decent battery life so you could navigate with it on a bike. I don't rate expensive phablet phones because I think they are difficult to carry around easily.
Which magazine identified the new £100 Moto E 2nd generation phone http://www.amazon.co.uk/Motorola-Moto-G ... a+moto+eas having a sensibly sized pocketable body with the advantage of a very long battery life. I have found that the battery lasts 5 days in normal use. The Moto E doesn't have the highest screen resolution around but the screen display is pretty good even in bright sunlight. The camera is only 5 mpixels but I don't usually take photos with a phone so that doesn't bother me because I always carry a high quality camera when cycling around or touring.

Navigation
I usually plan my cycle routes on a laptop with cycle.travel or bikeroute toaster. These applications both produce a .gpx file which you can use in various navigation apps. Cycle.travel is very good. It chooses quiet routes, it offers not only .gpx but also .pdf maps of your route that you can print out. It sometimes uses off road cycle tracks and offers a hill profile of your route with photographs of turns distances and times. It even displays possible en route accommodation in your chosen price bracket. I usually plan routes on my laptop or tablet and save the resulting .gpx files in Google Drive so they can easily be picked up on my phone. It's quite possible to plan routes with your phone too zooming in for fine detail.
Although I personally prefer map based navigation I often use Osmand Plus based on Open Street Maps to navigate on the road, especially if I have time constraints in unfamiliar territory. If you import a .gpx file into Osmand you can set it to guide you on the ensuing track with voice instructions at each turn. I really like that, navigation then becomes childishly simple. The .gpx files must be put in the Osmand/tracks directory on the phone. I use a file manager called ES file explorer to do that. Alternatively you can associate .gpx files with Osmand and clicking on them in a file explorer will load your route straight into Osmand. On the road if you decide to stray from the track Osmand will direct you back onto your route. A word of warning here, set your Osmand to car for navigation otherwise if you stray from your route and get redirected it will take you to some bizarre places only suitable for MTBs!
In practice I have found that using Osmand on the Moto E that the phone battery will guide you for 6 hours or more depending on how you set the screen. It can be set within Osmand to only display on the phone's screen when you are about to make a turn thus saving battery life. You can of course connect an auxiliary battery to your phone to extend the navigation period. I carry one in my bar bag.

Mounting the phone
I purchased a couple of Defender two piece rubber cover/hard plastic shells for the Moto E. They cost just £2.76 each ! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Motorola-Moto-2 ... +fo+moto+e I had an old bar/stem mount for a cycle computer and bolted this to the hard protective plastic shell of the Defender. This then clips to my bikes stem like a cycle computer with an O Ring. The phone with its inner shockproof rubber cover clips into the plastic shell in landscape format so it is there right underneath your nose. If it rains I put a piece cling film around it although that is probably unnecessary in light rain.

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Shows the hard case mounted on the stem with the phone above

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Shows the rear of the hard shell case with the mount bolted to it with 1.5 mm bolts and nuts

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The Moto E clipped into the hard case mounted on the stem

Recording a route
Osmand does it and will save a route for future reference. It's no Strada though.

Conclusion
In the past I have used my old HTC smartphone for navigation now and again, often in combination with maps. But now with the long lasting battery in the Moto E I think I will be using the smartphone a lot more to navigate.
The total cost of my setup was £100 for the phone, £5.50 for the Defender mounting cases and £5 for Osmand Plus. In other words less than the cost of a basic Garmin or similar device, ending up with voice guidance and a far more versatile and useful gadget in your pocket. It must be noted that many Garmin users use Open Street Maps in preference to Garmins own maps. If you already own a smartphone using Osmand is one way to deliver great satellite navigation on a bike but you may find battery life a problem.. With the Moto E 2nd generation being so inexpensive it may be worth buying one just for its long lasting internal battery performance and not even bothering with a simm card?

Final Question?
In the past I have also loaded up Alpinequest and Viewranger but never explored them fully and wonder if anyone has views on how good these are in comparison to voice guided Osmand?
Or, has anyone found anything smartphone based that offers better navigation?

Al
Last edited by al_yrpal on 20 Dec 2015, 9:31am, edited 1 time in total.
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. CTC gone but not forgotten!

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Paulatic
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby Paulatic » 29 Nov 2015, 5:07pm

Interesting Al, so the six hours life is with the screen permanently on I assume. Have you done a ride with the screen coming on at turns yet? Would that double the battery time or what? At what distance before the turn does the screen come on?
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sjs
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby sjs » 29 Nov 2015, 5:46pm

al_yrpal wrote:Final Question?
In the past I have also loaded up Alpinequest and Viewranger but never explored them fully and wonder if anyone has views on how good these are in comparison to voice guided Osmand?
Or, has anyone found anything smartphone based that offers better navigation?

Al


I've never liked a voice telling me what to do, and turn it off in my car satnav. For simply following a line on a map, and recording and displaying gpx's I use Maverick, mainly because it was one of the first apps I came across, it's easy to learn, and it has a longish menu of maps including OS Explorer, which, once downloaded, are stored locally.

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al_yrpal
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby al_yrpal » 29 Nov 2015, 6:00pm

Paulatic wrote:Interesting Al, so the six hours life is with the screen permanently on I assume. Have you done a ride with the screen coming on at turns yet? Would that double the battery time or what? At what distance before the turn does the screen come on?


I havent done a long intermittent screen run yet so I cant say how long with confidence yet. You can set the time the screen comes on, I have used 1 minute so far.

Al
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fausto copy
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby fausto copy » 23 Dec 2015, 9:35pm

Hi Al, I really appreciate your review of the Moto E.
As you probably recall from several of my other postings, I'm completely baffled by all this GPS stuff, but your review has certainly helped me out.
As my OSMaps membership is about to expire again, and printing their maps out is now a real pain, you've almost convinced me to go down your route (if I could only find my way :lol: ) and buy the Moto E.
I've never heard of Osmand but have had a googled it to try and see what you're talking about.
I really need something to transfer my cycle routes on to when leading some rides in new areas and I'm almost sure this would be the answer.
I know Santa won't be bringing me one but it looks likely I'll be perusing t'internet in the Newyear.
Thanks again,
fausto.

P.S. And I'm also tempted again by one of your other recommendations, the Lumix LF1 which is now on offer at £150!

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al_yrpal
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby al_yrpal » 23 Dec 2015, 11:51pm

Fausto, that Moto E is a no brainer. The camera isnt great but thats what the LF1 is for. I love it, its so small and so handy, great for street photography, portraits with great bokeh, and on the bike. Merry Christmas..

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. CTC gone but not forgotten!

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fausto copy
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby fausto copy » 24 Dec 2015, 12:23pm

Hi Al, that description of the Moto E (a no brainer) could well refer to me these days!
We'll have to see....anyway, compliments of the season to you and thanks for all your impressive postings over the past year,

fausto.

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al_yrpal
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby al_yrpal » 24 Dec 2015, 1:49pm

Fausto thank you too, you always have something positive to say.

Seasons wishes

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. CTC gone but not forgotten!

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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby grahamf01 » 27 Dec 2015, 9:02pm

I found this review very interesting, what works best for you does of course depend on what you are trying to achieve. For day runs downloading a GPX might enable the use of a well planned circular route. I used OSMAND for a 30 day tour of the UK with on board navigation.

As Al found the OSMAND cycle navigation is over simplistic, giving unreliable results for road cycling, but the car option may be OK for getting back on a route though not for general use. I found the Brouter android app was the answer for routing, I used this in conjunction with OSMAND to navigate me along the route. If I took a wrong turn Brouter would work out a new route based on the new location. Brouter has a number of different routing profiles for different styles of cycling, but I found the 'recumbent' profile seemed to have the right balance between avoiding hills and preferring minor roads for my fully loaded tour.

I ran it on a Moto E which I used solely for navigation, it had no SIM card, and I put it in the map reading window of my bar bag. That way I could see it and it was protected from the weather. To hear the navigation I ran a headphone from it into one ear and found hearing as well as seeing the directions helpful, often it was too sunny or to wet to read the screen easily! I also had it only light the screen when approaching a junction, I think 30 seconds before, and found it would last for a 12 hour cycle run. I recharged it overnight from a backup battery pack as I was camping and often had no access to mains power.

I found this method of navigation very reliable and it took me on some lovely little roads that would have required carful navigation to do by traditional paper maps, as well as needing to carry a lot of paper!

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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby fausto copy » 1 Jan 2016, 11:30am

Went into town yesterday and noticed that Argos had a special offer on the Moto E.
Succumbed to temptation but still too scared to take it out of the box. :(

One of my resolutions this year must be to try and catch up on this techno malarkey.

fausto.

P.S. As an aside from this Luddite flat-lander, I've actually managed to record some old cassettes onto my hard drive and am even tempted to now consider selling my vinyl collection. :shock:

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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby Sweep » 1 Jan 2016, 11:36am

How much was it fausto?


Are there different specs of the phone to confuse issues?
Sweep

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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby fausto copy » 1 Jan 2016, 1:19pm

£79.99 for a couple of more days, with a free SIM (choice of providers).

I think there's only the one spec.....erm, it's a Moto E 2nd generation and 4G :?: :?

fausto.

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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby bikes4two » 3 Jan 2016, 10:52pm

> Well Al, after reading your review and other postings on the topic of using a Smartphone, combined with my own 'need' to get an improved 'bike GPS' device, I have ordered up a rugged smartphone from China that I believe will do the job handsomely - cost £65 plus £15 for DHL delivery (or I could have waited a few weeks and got P&P for nowt).
> Prior to taking this step I tested out OSMand on an old smartphone I had knocking around so I could be comfortable with it's functionality and to see that it met my 'cycle touring' needs - and it did.
>BTW, I found the smartphone handlebar mount in the picture below, £10 from eBay, to be highly satisfactory in holding my own 4.5" smartphone firmly in place on my drops
> Having found success in this prototype, I then set out to find a suitable ANDROID smartphone to use as a dedicated GPS device. By limiting the smartphone to this function it meant that I didn't need much of a 'phone spec' to meet the need as at a base level I would only be running OSMand and Archies Campings on the phone (won't be bothering with a SIM card - I'll be using my everyday smartphone for my 'normal' needs :) )
> The other key criteria for me was to have a phone with a suitable IP rating of IP67 or IP68 (see here for those unfamiliar with these ratings) and a battery of greater than 3,000mAh. And of course the phone needed to have GPS
> I then set my budget at £100 max all in and spent 2-3 days in research mode. I was very surprised at the number of devices available (just search Google for 'rugged smartphone' or 'IP68 Smartphone' and follow the links to the Chinese products (to avoid the normal Samsung, Sony Xperia glitzy products that were out of budget)
> After much deliberation (so much choice!) I settled on a Hummer H5 spec'd s per this link (pic below) and eagerly wait for postie to bring on the goods :D
> I look forward to posting my own review in due course.
PS - search youtube for 'hummer h5 phone' to see people giving this phone some serious abuse :roll:
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby al_yrpal » 4 Jan 2016, 12:07am

Great stuff. I did look at my sons Chinese phone which purports to have a 6000 mah battery but didnt go for one purely because it was the same size as the latest iPhones and Samsungs. For me, these phones are just too big so thats why I went for the Moto E, it fits nicely in your pocket. It isnt IP68 either. You may get charged Vat on it and a handling charge as an import. Look forward to your review.
Good luck with that Fausto, you will find it a lot simpler than a PC. Any questions dont hesitate to PM me.


Al
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Re: Smartphone Navigation with the Moto E

Postby bikes4two » 11 Feb 2016, 8:25pm

> A bit of a recap of my own Smartphone experiences is due me thinks

> The Hummer H5 has turned out to be a bit of a lemon in that on arriving, one of the two batteries was duff AND the GPS receiver didn't work either, making this particular phone about as useful as a brick. I'm currently having a difficult time getting my money back too but hopefully the buyer protection offered by AliExpress.com will eventually turn up trumps :(

al_yrpal wrote:Great stuff....... You may get charged Vat on it and a handling charge as an import. Look forward to your review.
Good luck with that Fausto, you will find it a lot simpler than a PC. Any questions don't hesitate to PM me.

Al

> Interestingly I did get charged 20% by HM Robbers and Customs but because the declared value of the parcel was way less than the actual value (a ploy often used on Chinese imports like this), the sum was small (I'd have been very peeved to have paid full whack seeing as I've returned the phone!)

> However, I did at least get some 'hands on' with the Hummer - it was very solidly built that's for sure and would no doubt have withstood some serious knocks. The buttons were hard to press though and whilst the screen was OK, it might have been on the dim side on a bright summer's day

> Enter the Doogee DG700 which I'd liked in my initial research in what to buy but I'd discounted due to price. The price had however dropped in the meantime and I got it delivered in 3 days for £68 from Gearbest.com and from their EU warehouse (so not Customs charges :D )

> I've been using the DG700 running OSMAND plus for the last 3 weeks and so far I am very pleased with the phone's performance

> I haven't fitted a SIM card in the phone and I run it in Aeroplane mode. The battery life seems more than capable of a good day's ride. My initial test was to leave the phone running OSMand+, full screen at max brightness, and of course with the GPS receiver active. This gave me a run-time of 6.5hrs

> Since that test I now only have the screen at about 60% brightness which is more than adequate even in the bright winter sun. This mode will I'm sure get me closer to 8+ hrs runtime, but I've yet to put that theory to the test.

> One key 'must have' feature for me was that the phone battery should be replaceable - and you can do this on both the Hummer and DG700 - for the DG700 I have 2 additional batteries (4,000mAh each) which would keep me going on a long day ride and into the night too.

> The build quality of the phone looks excellent, albeit it's a bit of a beast measuring in at 142 x 72 x 13mm and weighing in at 230gms (the Moto E is 124.8 x 64.8 x 12.3 mm and weighs 142gms), so not to everyone's liking. It is however a dual SIM phone and rated as IP67, but seeing as the Moto E can now be had for £60 from Sainsbury, then the DG700 is simply another alternative in this sector of the market.

> There are a number of youtube videos for those wanting to see more about the DG700

> In the meantime I shall be using the DG700 as often as I can to ensure it is 'fit for purpose' ie a 3 week European cycle camping tour in the summer.
OSMand+ has proved to be a very useful Android app with no particular shortcomings against what I'm looking to use it for (I've already loaded the maps, tracks and campsites for my 1100 miles summer trip). I will however give Locus Map a run too and any other similar app that might come along in the meantime

> On a parallel track I am pairing the phone up with a hub dynamo / USB charger - more on that here

I will keep this thread updated as necessary, mainly on any negative points (so no updates probably means it's all going well but if anyone wants to know specifics, please do PM me)
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