Many people have now abandoned a standalone GPS system for simply using the app on their smartphone. But is this a good thing? There are both advantages and disadvantages to this system but as most smartphones already have this capability, it seems strange if it does not get used.
You can download whichever app you prefer to work with the GPS capability. The phone can then be used in the same way as a separate GPS device. It should have its own mounting in the car so that it is not in the way of the driver and will not be distracting.
Advantages to Smartphone GPS Apps
One of the main advantages is that most people will take their smartphone wherever they go so that the app is easily accessible. The phone can also give up to the minute traffic reports and will help you to avoid snarl-ups or accidents. The apps will use maps that are stored on a remote server so that they are always the latest versions when they are accessed. This is a downside to a standalone unit as the maps are not always updated regularly.
Not all standalone GPS systems have touchscreen facilities but all smartphones have this ability. This can be invaluable when driving as it makes tasks easier, particularly if you need to search for something. The apps can often be integrated with a contacts database so that finding a destination can be fairly quick. Updates can often be done automatically so that you know you have the latest versions of the software on the smartphone or can update manually at the touch of a button.
The downside to using the smartphone as a GPS unit is that it can be very heavy on battery life. As both the GPS and the 3G will be in use at the same time it can really drain the battery. Anyone on a long journey should invest in a car charger. Smartphone batteries are not known for their long life anyway and if your journey is going to be several hundred miles it will definitely not last long.
Another major downside is if your journey takes you into areas where phone networks do not work, which is where you really need it!
Another downside is that if the phone rings during the journey you may miss important information about where to turn as it can be very distracting. There are some apps which make it difficult to take a call at the same time too, so make sure you get the right one.
Some of the apps are only accessible with a monthly fee and this can soon mount up. Most standalone units do not incur a monthly charge so this can actually work out to be more expensive in some cases. There are some apps which do not have a monthly fee and it is worth trying these first as they may be just as effective.
However, there are plenty of people who have used the smartphone for GPS without issue and prefer it to their older units. It can certainly save messing about with several different devices and is a The real-time traffic updates are a godsend for those who regularly commute to work and can save a great deal of time, not to mention stress!