Dedicated GPS Unit Versus Phone Navigation

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,253
16,940
The Misty Mountains
Which do you prefer and why?

I have a Garmin Nuvi 1490 which is close to 10 years old and a new iPhone 10XR so this may not be a fair comparison. We drove from the CDG (Paris DeGaul) airport this morning down to Versailles about 25 miles away. I had both of these units hooked up and navigating, the Garmin sitting on the dash and phone in a cradle hooked to a dash vent of our rental car.

In essence the XR using the Waze App navigation had a vastly superior display, variable distance, with smooth scrolling. I appreciate the posted speed limit on it, however it had no lane guidance which is a big disadvantage to not have.

I downloaded a new Europe Map for the Garmin and the display seems dated to me, the display is not a as smooth, maybe due to having 10 year old technology in it, relatively limited view ahead that can be adjusted, but stays the same, ie not dynamic where it zooms in and out, depending on how close a turn is. One possibly huge advantage it does have is self contained maps, while phone navigation uses GPS Sat data, my impression is it relies on cell coverage to feed the maps as data to the phone, large amounts of data. Over a decade ago, I remember when being charged for data by the unit, (instead of unlimited) how navigation would drive your monthly bill up quickly to it’s cap if there was one.

For the Garmin, I don’t remember seeing a posted speed limit in it’s display, (I’ll check again next time I drive on Saturday*), but a distinct advantage in heavy traffic on the highway was its lane guidance, instead of just a left or right turn showed in Waze. One thing that irritated me, was that the Garmin Display would go blank for about a minute and then come back. Another advantage it had was when going through long tunnels, several on this route, although both devices lost GPS guidance the Garmin would continue to track based on last known speed, while the Waze app, the position of the car would freeze until GPS reception was restored.

* This article says it likely does: https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?faq=uhS9iMGAoG5zHs6FqwN5u5

Waze is owned by Google. In fareness, as an Apple user, I should try both Google and Apple maps. I just read that Apple is redoing their maps since last summer, and that they added lane guidance. So I’ll try them on future segments on this trip. My impression is that Google has a big leg up on Apple and includes more peripheral local business information than Apple does, but I’ve not used Apple Maps much because, I really like Waze’s ability to enter your own traffic hazard information such as slowdowns for a variety of reasons, such as road construction, a stopped vehicle, accident, the location of police speed traps, etc. And imo, which maybe in error, that Waze is more agressive than Apple or Google about offering reroutes for slow traffic.

So far: Waze has the advantage of a cleaner robust display with posted speed limits, Garmin has the advantage of lane guidance and tracking while GPS reception is lost.
C2EF93C9-AF5F-493A-A197-B494DEC9B30F.jpeg
Garmin Display- I’ve not seen this on my Europe map, an exit display, but remember something like this or the next image, driving in the States.

A229E518-8581-4EAE-BAFE-770C79F7F541.jpeg

08A44DB8-593A-4137-8500-58AB6BB23107.jpeg
Waze Display


441CB96F-ABBE-4666-B0B6-ACE218ED42A0.png

Apple Maps
has the cleanest display.



https://www.macrumors.com/2018/06/29/apple-maps-to-be-rebuilt/

https://www.apple.com/ios/feature-availability/

https://medium.com/@the_manifest/apple-maps-vs-google-maps-which-is-better-9ceaf28f9bf0

https://www.reddit.com/r/waze/comments/8mnwmw/come_on_waze_lane_guidance/
 
Last edited:

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
33,146
22,821
Behind the Lens, UK
My VW has a built in Sat Nav.
Advantages are;
Bigger screen
Ready to go (no attachments etc).
Thief proof.

Disadvantages are;
UI is a bit clunky. Like you have to search the town before you can find the postcode (zip code) option.
Can’t search on your phone before leaving the house. Have to search in car.
 
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crf8

macrumors regular
Apr 6, 2017
125
629
Flew to New England, rented a car, did a week vacation directly comparing garmin stand alone GPS to my iPhone with google maps. Strike one on the gps- couldn’t get it working as we were in a rental car parking garage. Had to exit to use it, very annoying!
Bottom line google maps was more accurate over the week.
 
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shinji

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2007
1,309
1,499
Phone is my preference due to the quality of the directions. Probably use Google Maps and Apple Maps equally, though Google has the edge right now, despite all the improvements Apple has made.

I have a https://www.proclipusa.com mount and just put the phone in when I need it.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
33,146
22,821
Behind the Lens, UK
Phone is my preference due to the quality of the directions. Probably use Google Maps and Apple Maps equally, though Google has the edge right now, despite all the improvements Apple has made.

I have a https://www.proclipusa.com mount and just put the phone in when I need it.
Had the same mount in my last car, and it was brilliant. Just never bothered getting one for this car as it has built in Sat Nav.
 

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
14,057
1,668
Australia, Perth
Went from standard TomTom unit, to iPhone... Those suction cups never could stay on the windscreen... A bump on the road hard enough, and off it comes on the floor.

At least with iPhone, it's portable, and unlike standalone devices, you *save" the $$ from buying expensive downloadable maps, (when using Apple maps, or Google Maps)

And you'll probably save on mobile data as well with mapping. Now smartphones have come in, these standalone companies just never give up.
 
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Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,253
16,940
The Misty Mountains
Flew to New England, rented a car, did a week vacation directly comparing garmin stand alone GPS to my iPhone with google maps. Strike one on the gps- couldn’t get it working as we were in a rental car parking garage. Had to exit to use it, very annoying!
Bottom line google maps was more accurate over the week.
That is annoying popping out of a garage, maybe pull over if possible until it get’s a signal.

My VW has a built in Sat Nav.
Advantages are;
Bigger screen
Ready to go (no attachments etc).
Thief proof.

Disadvantages are;
UI is a bit clunky. Like you have to search the town before you can find the postcode (zip code) option.
Can’t search on your phone before leaving the house. Have to search in car.
GPS units, I’ve used both Garmin and Tom Tom, they are both clunky as compared the phone, where you can just start typing in something. I really hate on my Garmin, looking for a category of something, you can end up scrolling down a long list of possibilities. And if you search on everything, you can wait a long time.
[doublepost=1548422332][/doublepost]
Phone is my preference due to the quality of the directions. Probably use Google Maps and Apple Maps equally, though Google has the edge right now, despite all the improvements Apple has made.

I have a https://www.proclipusa.com mount and just put the phone in when I need it.
Does that clamp onto an air vent? I like: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BBMCMSD/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
[doublepost=1548422638][/doublepost]
Went from standard TomTom unit, to iPhone... Those suction cups never could stay o the windscreen... A bumb on the road hard enough, and off it comes on the floor.

At least with iPhone, it's portable, and unlike standalone devices, you *save" the $$ from buying expensive downloadable maps, (when using Apple maps, or Google Maps)

And you'll probably save on mobile data as well with mapping. Now smartphones have come in, these standalone companies just never give up.
I gave up on window suction mount because I hated when the unit fell off. I switched to a friction mount that just sits on the dash. It has not budged yet.

07A4F6A8-C7DE-44C0-9221-A87422EFC2DE.jpeg
 

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,119
1,254
Always a day away
My built-in GPS is great, but updates are unreasonably expensive.

My solution is to plug my phone in via USB, start Waze, and it appears on the built-in screen on my dash. Shows traffic and it's always up-to-date.
 

A.Goldberg

macrumors 68020
Jan 31, 2015
2,329
7,690
Boston
I find nearly all factory built I navigation systems to be garbage.

Google Maps is the best in my opinion.

Waze is okay but I’ve had problems with it. One example- driving to NYC it had me on the highway - traffic ahead, off the highway, on a different highway - accident crops up, back off the highway, back onto the original highway stuck in traffic, back off, and so on. It was ridiculous and I think it ended up taking far more time than had I just stayed on the original route.

Apple maps is a joke. At least it’s improved a great deal. I remember when it first came out and it would announce abbreviations for streets (ST), boulevards (BLVD), etc phonetically. “Turn right onto Main Stuhhhhh (ST)”.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,253
16,940
The Misty Mountains
I find nearly all factory built I navigation systems to be garbage.

Google Maps is the best in my opinion.

Waze is okay but I’ve had problems with it. One example- driving to NYC it had me on the highway - traffic ahead, off the highway, on a different highway - accident crops up, back off the highway, back onto the original highway stuck in traffic, back off, and so on. It was ridiculous and I think it ended up taking far more time than had I just stayed on the original route.

Apple maps is a joke. At least it’s improved a great deal. I remember when it first came out and it would announce abbreviations for streets (ST), boulevards (BLVD), etc phonetically. “Turn right onto Main Stuhhhhh (ST)”.
Mostly I like Waze using it almost exclusively, but at times when it reroutes, if I am familiar with the area, I override it. :) from an article I read, it is more aggressive about rerouting due to traffic conditions. My Garmin mostly does a good job with guidence, is supposed to have live traffic, but not sure if that feature is in France. My main dislike is its requirements for identifying a location, the order that an address must be entered. Where with both google, and Waze, you can just start typing in the address or a name, and usually what you want pops up. It’s just not robust in this regard.
 

Mousse

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2008
2,052
2,720
Flea Bottom, King's Landing
I prefer using a dedicated GPS for 3 reasons: 1) Bigger screen, 2) longer battery life and 3) doesn't drain my data plan. Carriers and their "unlimited" plan. Unlimited...yeah right.:rolleyes:

Phones have quicker and more accurate location because it uses both GPS and cell towers to triangulate your location. The cell tower is why you can find you location within a parking garage, whereas GPS signals require open spaces. Also, the traffic reports on the phone is much, much more accurate.
 

Plutonius

macrumors 604
Feb 22, 2003
7,917
6,095
New Hampshire, USA
My VW has a built in Sat Nav.
Advantages are;
Bigger screen
Ready to go (no attachments etc).
Thief proof.

Disadvantages are;
UI is a bit clunky. Like you have to search the town before you can find the postcode (zip code) option.
Can’t search on your phone before leaving the house. Have to search in car.
I have the same thing and I like it.

I'm not sure anything is thief proof. I would say instead that it's thief resistant :).
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,253
16,940
The Misty Mountains
I prefer using a dedicated GPS for 3 reasons: 1) Bigger screen, 2) longer battery life and 3) doesn't drain my data plan. Carriers and their "unlimited" plan. Unlimited...yeah right.:rolleyes:

Phones have quicker and more accurate location because it uses both GPS and cell towers to triangulate your location. The cell tower is why you can find you location within a parking garage, whereas GPS signals require open spaces. Also, the traffic reports on the phone is much, much more accurate.
I would never consider running a GPS or my phone for navigation in the car without being powered. And yes I have had unlimited data with both Sprint, and now T-mobile. On this trip in France I am currently taking, unlimited data is the only reason my phone is a good solution for gps navigation. :)
 

A.Goldberg

macrumors 68020
Jan 31, 2015
2,329
7,690
Boston
Mostly I like Waze using it almost exclusively, but at times when it reroutes, if I am familiar with the area, I override it. :) from an article I read, it is more aggressive about rerouting due to traffic conditions. My Garmin mostly does a good job with guidence, is supposed to have live traffic, but not sure if that feature is in France. My main dislike is its requirements for identifying a location, the order that an address must be entered. Where with both google, and Waze, you can just start typing in the address or a name, and usually what you want pops up. It’s just not robust in this regard.
I find Google Maps makes reasonable decisions about rerouting due to traffic. Waze can come in handy in Boston’s city traffic off the highway when the traffic is congested. It seems like highway rerouting with Waze, especially heading into NYC where there multiple highways.

I’m thrilled CarPlay finally supports Google Maps. Audi’s infotainment MMI has Google Maps built in but requires data service.

The iDrive Navigation in my BMW is awful- granted it’s a decade old. But the biggest problem is entering in the destination with the iDrive wheel. Newer models however have touch interface as well so you can use an on screen keyboard.
 
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Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,253
16,940
The Misty Mountains
The second day of navigating and I’ve used both Apple’s Maps and Waze and I’m really disliking the 10 year old Garmin Display. The thing is it looks like the new Garmin displays as far as I can tell. I’m really disliking the heavy yellow highways, and the appearance of the guiding line is just not as polished as the phone displays, making it look dated. I still like it’s lane guidence though. On a multi-lane Highway, the lane guidence is valuable info such as do I need to be in the far right lane or just the 3 right lanes?

2A9A1F2C-F622-47D7-A6A2-CDF9662AFC62.jpeg
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,253
16,940
The Misty Mountains
I was sold on portable GPS units I could move from car to car with live traffic reporting, and free lifetime maps less than $150 from Garmin. They can still be useful at times because they don’t require cell coverage which can be an issue at times in certain locations.

Built-in auto GPS, never again if I can help it. My Fiat 500 came with one as part of a car technology package which also gives info about the car, however I’m not buying (overpriced) new maps for it when I have free lifetime maps through my portable.

And my 2012 Toyota is difficult enough to update the maps (not as simple as swapping out a SIM card), leave it at the dealer for hours so they can both charge you the technician free but also for the new map, I will never buy a built in system again unless it is part of a package I want for other reasons.

I also notice that during a 5 hr drive today, the Garmin reset itself off/on 3 times today, once during a crucial navigation point. I have no idea why, fortunately, my phone was also navigating. It also, with the latest Europe map, tried to have me drive into a former street, now pedestrian only, while Waze knew this, and in another segement it was out of date, not aware a road was there that my phone knew about, and last but not least, offered us a route to the destination for that day that was 30 minutes longer, than what the phone knew.

So as of right now there are two reasons to consider a portable unit, no cell coverage needed(depending on your circumstances), and the best lane advice I’ve seen , but I need to Apple Maps a shot at highway driving and see how its lane advice is.
 
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Gutwrench

Contributor
Jan 2, 2011
4,040
9,207
@Huntn - I agree.

My needs are met just fine with Apple Maps...including lane assistance.

I’m unimpressed with built in GPS but it works where I go.

Portable GPS are ugly clutter, but can see their benefit for those entering areas of poor cell service.
 
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Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,253
16,940
The Misty Mountains
When I turned on Waze after a gas stop near Paris, it told me 80,000 wazers around me, so it seems to be a popular app around here. :D