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Geocaching app on smartphone .vs. handheld gps

#1 User is offline   jaydotram 

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 05:10 PM

I was wondering about geocaching using a smartphone with the app, vs using a handheld gps..
Im new to geocaching and have been using the app on my droid x, to date ive found about 42 caches in about 2 weeks all using the app.
now a couple of questions.. is it looked down upon to use the phone/app setup, by the more experienced cachers..
so far the app has been working fine for me, but i was curious about the accuracy.. especially when hiking a little farther off the beaten path.
Is there any experienced cachers, That primarily use the phone/app setup?

Thanks.

#2 User is offline   popokiiti 

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 06:24 PM

Using a smartphone with the official app is certainly not looked down on. The only concern is the ruggedness of the phone - dropping it, getting it wet. I'd love a smartphone, but with the cost of replacing it if I had an accident, I'd rather stick to a dedicated unit. Just my 2 cents...
Welcome to caching and the forums, and Merry Christmas!

#3 User is offline   howarthe 

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 06:34 PM

I gave up using my phone and I got a Garmin because I didn't think the phone was very accurate. Since then I have gone back to the phone on occasion because it doesn't require a download and I can post log entries from the field, but I mostly prefer to use my Garmin because I can filter out the micros. The phone does become completely worthless when I go where there is no cell service. So use whatever you like. Don't let anyone give you a hard time about it. :)

This post has been edited by howarthe: 24 December 2011 - 09:18 PM


#4 User is offline   niraD 

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 08:30 PM

Accuracy varies from smartphone to smartphone. My experience with my G1 and Nexus One has been that they've been about as accurate as my old yellow eTrex. A modern handheld unit with a high-sensitivity receiver will be a lot more accurate, especially in situations with poor satellite reception (e.g., under heavy tree cover). Some smartphone users link their phones to a Bluetooth GPS receiver, which lets them use the phone with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver.

Battery life for smartphones is generally poor when the GPS antenna is on. Some carry spare charged phone batteries. Some carry eternal battery packs with USB connectors to recharge their phones on the go. Some stay close to the car where they keep their phone plugged into the charger. Some link their phones to a Bluetooth GPS receiver, which helps a lot because the Bluetooth antenna requires far less power than the GPS antenna, and the Bluetooth GPS receiver will have its own batteries.

And of course, smartphones aren't as durable or waterproof as handheld GPS units. There are various protective covers that can help, but I haven't seen anything that can equal the durability of a dedicated handheld GPS unit.

#5 User is offline   Fryguy1111 

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 11:40 PM

I use a Blackberry Torch for all my hunts. The convenience of having GPS mapping (I can simply drive to the cache area with a couple of clicks from my geocaching app), phone (to let the wifey know I'm out geocaching), a camera (to take a picture for any virtual caches), internet access (to post said pictures), etc. in one single device is extremely useful. With the right geocaching application, you can go 100% paperless...even logging travel bugs. I use CacheSense (now available for Android phones too) and can do everything that I'd normally do online using the application right then and there....so no more waiting to go home to log my finds from scraps of paper :lol:.

As far as accuracy, it's always put me right at the GZ...just as good or better than my friends dedicated GPSr. The only thing that I can see to be aware of is battery usage and handling. The phone does use a lot of power, but I've been able to find 10 in one day and still had 3/4 charge left. One also needs to be sure to try and keep the phone out of the weather. I'm up here near Seattle, but still go out in the drizzle with my phone and have not had any issues.

I have no desire to get a dedicated GPSr and thoroughly enjoy caching with my BB.

#6 User is offline   JesandTodd 

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 12:49 PM

I'm also in the Seattle area and take my iPhone out in the rain all the time. I really have no choice about that, lol. The iphone is plenty durable and FAR from worthless without cell coverage...that's what PQs are for.
I also have a Garmin 60csx, but I prefer the iPhone-hands down.
1100 finds so far with it, so I'd say it's doing it's job. :)

#7 User is offline   diggingest_dogg616 

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 03:43 PM

I was teaching a friend of mine how to use a GPS unit so I figured geocaching would help him (he's joining search and rescue). I wanted him to feel comfortable punching in coordinates and being able to find his way to it. Unfortunately, I only have the one GPS unit and I wanted to make sure he was following it instead of just following him and peeking over his shoulder. So, I downloaded the c:geo opensource app from the android market!

It seems to work alright. I typed the coords I had for the cache we were looking for and then found the cache and added it to my phone. It showed a bubble for the coords and then a different bubble for the cache. I was trying to go for the coords I put in and I was way off. The GPS was almost spot on.

I'd like to use my phone for geocaching a little more, just to figure it out and see how well it can really do. What I'm thinking it will really help with is with looking for places with caches that I can get to. Sometimes I look at a description and think I know where it is, but the google map thing really helps. So, having it on my phone and being able to access it all the time helps a lot. Then if I want to use my GPS instead I can transfer some coords.

#8 User is offline   Pure Cane Sugar 

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 09:51 PM

We've been having great fun caching with my husband's HTC Trophy, for all of the reasons that Fryguy1111 mentioned above. It's pretty nice to have one device that can literally do it all.

We've enjoyed it so much that I've even ordered the exact same phone for myself. Mine arrives on Tuesday. :D

#9 User is offline   kennychange(kc+) 

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 06:32 PM

I have been using my iphone gps for some months now, but had originally bought a Garmin Legend cx in hopes that using it geocaching would finally get me using and comfortable with a gps for backcountry use. I have about 100 finds under my belt and LOVE how user friendly the app is, but that hasn't helped my initial goal of using an old school GPS.

Here's my questions:

1) I have been able to upload the waypoints for some close by caches, but obviously you don't get things like the descriptions / hint / logs - what do you folks do when using a conventional handheld? Do print and copy these things? Go without?

2) Do you work with / without a printed map when finding caches? I can see some interesting learning possible by using a topo style map with less info on the handheld to make for some harder fun and possibly benefit back country adventure travel understanding

Hope y'all can help!

#10 User is offline   JesandTodd 

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 08:23 PM

View Postkennychange, on 15 February 2014 - 06:32 PM, said:

I have been using my iphone gps for some months now, but had originally bought a Garmin Legend cx in hopes that using it geocaching would finally get me using and comfortable with a gps for backcountry use. I have about 100 finds under my belt and LOVE how user friendly the app is, but that hasn't helped my initial goal of using an old school GPS.

Here's my questions:

1) I have been able to upload the waypoints for some close by caches, but obviously you don't get things like the descriptions / hint / logs - what do you folks do when using a conventional handheld? Do print and copy these things? Go without?

2) Do you work with / without a printed map when finding caches? I can see some interesting learning possible by using a topo style map with less info on the handheld to make for some harder fun and possibly benefit back country adventure travel understanding

Hope y'all can help!



Holy 2+ yr old thread alert!!

1) even with my Garmin 60CSx, I still used my iPhone for the description, hint, pictures, and logging (just run a query and run the app in offline mode). For my 62s, I get all of those. I still will select the cache I'm navigating to on my iPhone and use it for all that....

2). If I'm hiking, I ALWAYS have a paper map do the area. This has nothing to do with me using an iPhone vs GPS. Either way, I have the map...

#11 User is offline   Chief301 

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 07:17 AM

View Postkennychange, on 15 February 2014 - 06:32 PM, said:

I have been using my iphone gps for some months now, but had originally bought a Garmin Legend cx in hopes that using it geocaching would finally get me using and comfortable with a gps for backcountry use. I have about 100 finds under my belt and LOVE how user friendly the app is, but that hasn't helped my initial goal of using an old school GPS.

Here's my questions:

1) I have been able to upload the waypoints for some close by caches, but obviously you don't get things like the descriptions / hint / logs - what do you folks do when using a conventional handheld? Do print and copy these things? Go without?

2) Do you work with / without a printed map when finding caches? I can see some interesting learning possible by using a topo style map with less info on the handheld to make for some harder fun and possibly benefit back country adventure travel understanding

Hope y'all can help!


Well, if your goal is to use an actual OLD SCHOOL GPS, then you'll need a way to carry all those hints, descriptions, etc. But almost any handheld GPS manufactured in the last 5 or 6 years will do paperless geocaching. My Garmin Oregon 550 has cache descriptions, hints, and recent logs of up to 5,000 caches. I load them up to 1,000 at a pop via PQ. Takes me about 10 minutes.

I also have maps right there on the device, both topographical and routable for driving.

Your Garmin Legend is an older design and won't do paperless geocaching. I used to use one, though. The Geocache locations were loaded on the Legend as waypoints, but they only had the cache name, GC code, and coordinates on it. I carried my iPhone with the geocaching app for the cache descriptions and stuff, and used the Legend for the actual search.

#12 User is offline   Gitchee-Gummee 

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 09:04 AM

View Postkennychange, on 15 February 2014 - 06:32 PM, said:


1) I have been able to upload the waypoints for some close by caches, but obviously you don't get things like the descriptions / hint / logs - what do you folks do when using a conventional handheld? Do print and copy these things? Go without?

2) Do you work with / without a printed map when finding caches? I can see some interesting learning possible by using a topo style map with less info on the handheld to make for some harder fun and possibly benefit back country adventure travel understanding

Hope y'all can help!

This depends on what you mean by "conventional handheld".... an older (generation) model GPSr or a current (generation) model GPSr.
Most all current model GPSr units are fully capable of displaying (decent) maps, as well as the complete cache description, etc. -- that is part of being "paperless".
Older units (such as the Legend Cx) are incapable of displaying that info -- hence, not "paperless".

Those older units are yet just as capable of getting you to the coordinates... without maps, the HOW you get there may well be a different story.
Many a cache has been located with those older units... both with and without paper maps.
Maps are not an ABSOLUTE necessity, they are only icing on the cake.

This post has been edited by Gitchee-Gummee: 16 February 2014 - 09:06 AM


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