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Accuracy of Android (and other) Smartphones

#1 User is offline   MaxiP 

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 04:37 AM

Interested to find out what sort of reported accuracy people get when using mobile / smartphones as opposed to a dedicated GPSr. Having tried several units, I've come to the conclusion that it makes very little difference on the device providing it's reasonably new.

As an example, I tested my HTC Tattoo (Android 1.6) against a newish Garmin and both devices got within 2m of the intended target. Even my ancient HTC Trinity (WM 6.1) got fairly close at 5m. When caching or other on my HTC, I usually get 2-3m accuracy (according to the device) and as yet, it hasn't caused me to miss any caches.

Interestingly, there are several threads about other devices (iPhone) where the accuracy is in the 15-30m radius which seems pretty poor. I know that accuracy is very much dependent on location, atmospheric conditions, etc. but was just wondering what sort of numbers other people get.

I don't do paper caching and already have devices with built-in GPS so this isn't supposed to be a discussion over which is better, just about how good / accurate a smartphone can be.

M

#2 User is offline   nativtxn 

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:19 AM

I am using my Droid and have found almost 40 caches. It leads me right to the spot on most of them. It bounces around a little in heavy trees/brush, but still gets close. There are some that I would have been looking all over the place if I didn't have it.

#3 User is offline   NordicMan 

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:58 AM

Not all Smartphones are created equal. It's a bit ironic the iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones on the market, and that specific device has a really poor GPS receiver :P I think when Apple was originally drawing up the specifications for the iPhone all they wanted to do was to get you "near" stuff like stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc.. and it does that task perfectly well. They didn't have Geocaching in mind at all, so "pinpoint accuracy" wasn't included as a specification requirement..

Other smartphones like HTC's Nokia's Palm's etc, do quite well for GPSr accuracy while. Not "all of them" but most of them :D

Some would argue Smartphones weren't designed to work in "difficult conditions" like under heavy tree cover in the woods. But they ARE designed to perform in urban city jungles (tall buildings etc) so, you be the judge of that lol

#4 User is offline   baloo&bd 

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:09 AM

My Droid had often been even more accurate, albeit only slightly, that my 400T. Once I learned the "figure 8" calibration method, it has actually been my go to with the right program.

#5 User is offline   Safari49 

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:57 AM

View Postbaloo&bd, on Apr 15 2010, 06:09 AM, said:

My Droid had often been even more accurate, albeit only slightly, that my 400T. Once I learned the "figure 8" calibration method, it has actually been my go to with the right program.

which software and which droid phone?

#6 User is offline   baloo&bd 

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:42 AM

View PostSafari49, on Apr 15 2010, 09:57 AM, said:

View Postbaloo&bd, on Apr 15 2010, 06:09 AM, said:

My Droid had often been even more accurate, albeit only slightly, that my 400T. Once I learned the "figure 8" calibration method, it has actually been my go to with the right program.

which software and which droid phone?


I think you're asking which firmware on the Droid since they only have the one model to date, the firmware is 2.1 Update 1.

Two apps, however the primary one I have been using is one that must remain nameless.

#7 User is offline   northernpenguin 

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 08:02 AM

Smartphone GPS Accuracy is also heavily dependant on the carrier.
Most smartphones use a form of assisted GPS, combining cell tower data with GPS data - this lets the manufacturers 'cheat' and get a good lock quick. The bad news is when companies like Verizon and Telus start degrading the location quality deliberately to favour their own Verizon Navigator or Telus Navigator applications.

Yes there are clever people that download Qualcomm's provisioning software and rejig their phone, but there's a lot of people who will accept the phone's limitations as face value rather than a carrier setting.

My HTC Touch was limited by Telus.
My HTC Touch Pro2 wasn't.
My (work provided) Blackberry Tour wasn't limited --- after I upgraded it to OS 5

Both are capable of a 3M lock when using a-GPS within a few seconds. I've also noticed Telus degrades the a-GPS service on weekends in Ontario for some reason - to the point I can't get a lock on my Touch Pro2, or my Blackberry Tour.

Just make sure you ask the question before signing up on that 2-3 year contract.

#8 User is offline   Andronicus 

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 08:33 AM

My HTC Touch (Vogue) is very accuriate (3m during benchmark tests). It is not super sensitive though, and it suffers from "Static Navigation" (not as bad as some GPRrs, but still there, and no way to turn it off). When I need better sensitivity, or no "Static Navigation", I use a USGlobalSat bluetooth GPSr.

Like northernpenguin, my provider (BELL) tried to limit my access to the GPSr. I loaded a new ROM from HTC, and wala, full access. Then I loaded a cooked rom, and wala, access to the 3G network, but still paying for access to the old slow network.

#9 User is offline   Andronicus 

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 08:37 AM

View PostNordicMan, on Apr 15 2010, 05:58 AM, said:

Some would argue Smartphones weren't designed to work in "difficult conditions" like under heavy tree cover in the woods. But they ARE designed to perform in urban city jungles (tall buildings etc) so, you be the judge of that lol

I find that my HTC Touch (Vogue) can essentialy crap out in heavy cloud cover, or thick trees (even in the winter without leavs). Also, get's jumpy downtown in the tall buildings. My USGlobalSat bluetooth GPSr puck works great in all of these conditions.

#10 User is offline   The Moofia Mob 

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 08:56 PM

[Endorsement of unauthorized application removed by moderator.]

This post has been edited by Keystone: 17 April 2010 - 05:38 AM


#11 User is offline   Greenegfm 

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 10:37 AM

I have been reading a lot of forum posts on unauthorized Geocaching apps for smartphones. I was wondering, what are the authorized apps for Geocaching with a Smartphone?

#12 User is offline   dhevans_6 

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 11:43 AM

My Nexus one is only usually out by 7 feet. But the battery gets eaten so quickly, I've got myself a dakota 20 - no more accurate but really easy to use and doesn't die on me!

#13 User is offline   ronilse 

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 12:13 PM

HTC Desire it's not much off either, but runs fast out of battery, so a spare source it's always nearhand.

#14 User is offline   3humphs 

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  Posted 15 May 2010 - 01:46 PM

View PostSafari49, on Apr 15 2010, 06:57 AM, said:

View Postbaloo&bd, on Apr 15 2010, 06:09 AM, said:

My Droid had often been even more accurate, albeit only slightly, that my 400T. Once I learned the "figure 8" calibration method, it has actually been my go to with the right program.

which software and which droid phone?



You should search on your phone in the market section for the word geocaching and fin the best free app that works for you. I love the one I am using. Droid in one hand and Dakota 20 in the other, I am impressed with both.

#15 User is offline   Keystone 

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 02:32 PM

View PostGreenegfm, on May 15 2010, 02:37 PM, said:

I have been reading a lot of forum posts on unauthorized Geocaching apps for smartphones. I was wondering, what are the authorized apps for Geocaching with a Smartphone?

You would answer your question by reading one of the threads on Android applications, rather than taking a thread about "smartphone accuracy" off topic. Feel free to ask any questions in one of those other threads.

#16 User is offline   MaxiP 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 07:44 AM

As with many, I suffer from battery life not being as good a dedicated GPSr devices. However, you can improve it easily by making sure that ALL un-needed services are stopped / modified when you go caching (WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile data, data sync, screen brightness, etc)

I was out this morning with my phone minimally configured but with GPS on all the time - after 2 hours, battery had gone down to 80% !! Normally, it's 50-60% or thereabouts. Again, my handset GPS got me within 1m of the cache.

If you can't be bothered to do it manually, get Locale & the associated plugins to do it for you - I now have a Locale 'Situation' called Geocaching that when enables shuts everything down except GPS. Simple button to enable / disable.

This post has been edited by MaxiP: 19 May 2010 - 07:45 AM


#17 User is offline   Driddy 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 08:16 AM

View PostMaxiP, on May 19 2010, 07:44 AM, said:

As with many, I suffer from battery life not being as good a dedicated GPSr devices. However, you can improve it easily by making sure that ALL un-needed services are stopped / modified when you go caching (WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile data, data sync, screen brightness, etc)

I was out this morning with my phone minimally configured but with GPS on all the time - after 2 hours, battery had gone down to 80% !! Normally, it's 50-60% or thereabouts. Again, my handset GPS got me within 1m of the cache.

If you can't be bothered to do it manually, get Locale & the associated plugins to do it for you - I now have a Locale 'Situation' called Geocaching that when enables shuts everything down except GPS. Simple button to enable / disable.


I have been using a T-Mobile Cliq. I have found 9 caches and haven't missed any because of it. However, it sometimes loses its lock under heavy tree cover. Also, there tends to be a lot of bounce when I am near the target. I am debating getting a Garmin 450 due to these issues.

#18 User is offline   JohnE5 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 08:41 AM

I have a droid and have found over 150 caches with it. It is deadly accurate.

I recently was out looking for a tough one and the cache owner stopped by, I told him where my coordinates showed me and less than two feet the cache was very well hidden in plain site.

The droid's gps works even without cell coverage. To save battery power I have actually put the phone in "Airplane Mode" which turns off the wifi and 3G. The gps still works great.

Plus the benefits are enormous on a smart phone. I have over 2000 caches loaded on my phone right now, just in case! LOL. My old GPS60 could only hold 500 and no cache details. Newer units still only hold 1000 with cache details included.

BTW what is the figure 8 calibration mentioned earlier?

#19 User is offline   Redwoods Mtn Biker 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 09:36 AM

Wave the phone in a figure-8 pattern to calibrate the magnetic sensor (electronic compass).

#20 User is offline   womble&gobbi 

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 08:53 PM

View PostJohnE5, on May 19 2010, 08:41 AM, said:

I have a droid and have found over 150 caches with it. It is deadly accurate.

I recently was out looking for a tough one and the cache owner stopped by, I told him where my coordinates showed me and less than two feet the cache was very well hidden in plain site.

The droid's gps works even without cell coverage. To save battery power I have actually put the phone in "Airplane Mode" which turns off the wifi and 3G. The gps still works great.

Plus the benefits are enormous on a smart phone. I have over 2000 caches loaded on my phone right now, just in case! LOL. My old GPS60 could only hold 500 and no cache details. Newer units still only hold 1000 with cache details included.

BTW what is the figure 8 calibration mentioned earlier?



Can i just ask, are you using Geobeagle? and gpx files you get by buying membership?

i'm just trying to make my geocaching as on the spur as i can get.

#21 User is offline   MaxiP 

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 11:21 AM

View Postwomble&gobbi, on May 21 2010, 08:53 PM, said:



Can i just ask, are you using Geobeagle? and gpx files you get by buying membership?

i'm just trying to make my geocaching as on the spur as i can get.


Using Geobeagle / Geohunter you really need a GPX to make it worthwhile - whilst both can do 'on the fly' queries, they don't do it an a particularly effective way. Until the official GS app is available, I download multiple GPX files & import into Geohunter - that way, there's a good chance that I will have cache info when I'm travelling. It does depend on knowing where you will be but for most of us, we know where we work / travel to / etc. I work in the Aldershot / Farnham area and am there every week or two so have a PQ for the area that I upload on a weekly basis - my HTC Tattoo running Geohunter has 4225 caches stored locally and I just update weekly.

#22 User is offline   TheHardtechnoFamily 

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 09:42 AM

Im quite happy with the accuracy on my Samsung i5700. Its nearly the same as my old garmin etrax. Im using Android 2.1. and GeOrg.

Only in woods with no free-to-air view i almost get no gps-updates or have to wait long for the next fix :) But i managed to get along with this...

#23 User is offline   Andronicus 

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 03:54 PM

View PostMaxiP, on May 19 2010, 07:44 AM, said:

As with many, I suffer from battery life not being as good a dedicated GPSr devices. However, you can improve it easily by making sure that ALL un-needed services are stopped / modified when you go caching (WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile data, data sync, screen brightness, etc)

I was out this morning with my phone minimally configured but with GPS on all the time - after 2 hours, battery had gone down to 80% !! Normally, it's 50-60% or thereabouts. Again, my handset GPS got me within 1m of the cache.

If you can't be bothered to do it manually, get Locale & the associated plugins to do it for you - I now have a Locale 'Situation' called Geocaching that when enables shuts everything down except GPS. Simple button to enable / disable.

If you want to impove your battery life, just make an external AA battery powered charger. The link in my signature has some basic instructions for how to do this.

#24 User is offline   The Rodriguez Clan 

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 07:19 PM

View PostMaxiP, on Apr 15 2010, 04:37 AM, said:

Interested to find out what sort of reported accuracy people get when using mobile / smartphones as opposed to a dedicated GPSr. Having tried several units, I've come to the conclusion that it makes very little difference on the device providing it's reasonably new.

As an example, I tested my HTC Tattoo (Android 1.6) against a newish Garmin and both devices got within 2m of the intended target. Even my ancient HTC Trinity (WM 6.1) got fairly close at 5m. When caching or other on my HTC, I usually get 2-3m accuracy (according to the device) and as yet, it hasn't caused me to miss any caches.

Interestingly, there are several threads about other devices (iPhone) where the accuracy is in the 15-30m radius which seems pretty poor. I know that accuracy is very much dependent on location, atmospheric conditions, etc. but was just wondering what sort of numbers other people get.

I don't do paper caching and already have devices with built-in GPS so this isn't supposed to be a discussion over which is better, just about how good / accurate a smartphone can be.

M


I just downloaded "Geocache Navigator" on my BlackBerry. I am new to geocashing and have not gone on my first hunt yet .. hope to go this weekend. I think it is a ground speak program that I found on BlackBerry World Apps. It looks pretty neat and shows maps, a compass navigator and the last few logs for a cash .. pretty cool really. We will see how it works

#25 User is offline   xti90 

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 08:09 PM

I've so far used a HTC TILT, iPhone 3gs, and a Motorola q9h.

I primarily use my Moto q9h as it's GPS usually gets a lock within a few seconds, and is pretty accurate. I also experience very good to great battery life with it. I always have a car charger and plug it in between caches.

I used to use my HTC TILT, it also worked pretty well, but battery could drain fast. Sensitivity may be slightly less than the q9h. I haven't used it in a long time though because it's broken :drama:

The iPhone 3gs, works well, but the GPS receive strength does seem lower than my other phones.

So far I've found over 150 caches, all of them with one of my phones. I wouldn't do it any other way.

#26 User is offline   Joshism 

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 05:14 PM

I have a Motorola Droid and use GeoBeagle and now GeoHunter. I often get 7 ft accuracy and VERY rarely worse than 13ft.

Still weak with tree cover though, but if I get a good bearing & distance to GZ from outside the trees and can approach in a roughly straight line it'll do the job.

#27 User is offline   Andronicus 

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 07:01 PM

Something to think about. If you are thinking your cell phone GPSr sucks, and maybe you should spend hundreds of dollars on a hand held, consider a bluetooth GPSr. They are cheep, and just as sencitive and accuriate as the best handhelds. Then you have a simple, diverse, web enabled tool.

#28 User is offline   thedeadpirate 

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 09:32 PM

View PostAndronicus, on Jun 17 2010, 11:01 PM, said:

Something to think about. If you are thinking your cell phone GPSr sucks, and maybe you should spend hundreds of dollars on a hand held, consider a bluetooth GPSr. They are cheep, and just as sencitive and accuriate as the best handhelds. Then you have a simple, diverse, web enabled tool.


Even better, you can hand the kids the puck and let them do all the running around while you direct them. :D

#29 User is offline   markstang 

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 11:46 AM

I use the Evo Droid on Froyo 2.2
I get 3-7 feet with open skys every time. actual finds have been 1 foot to 13 feet.

I am not placing caches with it until these new devises are excepted in time from the community of cachers.

The latest supper smart phones have only been out with Droid 2.2 for a couple weeks. I enjoy finding caches with ease.

Sure is nice finding the creative nature type log hides. LOL

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