Author Topic: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?  (Read 2827 times)

Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« on: 05 April, 2023, 04:35:08 pm »
So plenty on here use phones for gps. But imho phones have many uses so GPS suitable features alone might never be enough.

So what are the best all round gps / outdoors phones with good features for standard smartphone uses too? I'm interested in budget,  mid range and flagship options to see what's out there that's good.

Any opinions on this?

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #1 on: 05 April, 2023, 05:41:12 pm »
I wouldn’t use a phone as a primary GPS device, I use a Wahoooooo! and have previously used a Garmin. Unless you can USB charge a phone off a dynohub the battery won’t last long enough.

However I have a Quadlock mount on my bike and use a Quadlock case on my iPhone so I can mount my phone on my bars. I can actually charge off a dynohub too. In the past I have abandoned my GPS and used Google Maps to find an obscure address so having the phone bar mounted is handy.

Many phones now are fairly weather proof, Quadlock do a poncho which goes over their cases to give water resistance. We recently went on a beach holiday and used waterproof iPhone cases so we could take our phones swimming and keep sand out, they came from Amazon and worked well. Quadlock do a universal mount which sticks to any phone case and would work with our Amazon cases.

Hope this helps.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #2 on: 05 April, 2023, 06:22:39 pm »
All iPhones 7 onwards are waterproof on their own so you just need a sturdy case to protect them from drops, which the Quadlock ones seem good at.

Google Maps assumes it’s plugged into a car and burns battery like nothing else. If you use an app that’s designed for low power consumption (cough BikeGPX cough) you can easily get 5-10 hours of runtime even with the screen on. GPS reception itself uses negligible power.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #3 on: 05 April, 2023, 08:35:04 pm »
Unless you can USB charge a phone off a dynohub the battery won’t last long enough.

There are ruggedised phones with much larger than average batteries, e.g. the Unihertz Tank or various Oukitel models (see Amazon). Alas I don't have one, but I've been thinking about it.
"There are proven ways; play on the certain knowledge of their superiority, the mystique of secret covenant, the esprit of shared suffering"

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #4 on: 06 April, 2023, 05:49:08 pm »
One has 11,000mAh capacity I believe.  When reviewers of phones call 5,000mAh as big batteries you'll see how big that battery capacity really is.

IPhone 7 has 1,960mAh!, 14 pro max had 4000 or so mAh.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #5 on: 06 April, 2023, 06:44:49 pm »
Plus you can take  a usb c fast charging power bank of 20,000 mAh (or so) with you to get a modern phone back up to 50% (from near zero) in 30 mins. Perfect whilst stopped.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #6 on: 06 April, 2023, 07:06:08 pm »
Are the rugged phones fast charge too? My a70 is not rugged as he only 20w charging. I think flagship Samsung are 60w or so.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #7 on: 07 April, 2023, 12:04:29 pm »
I've only ever used a normal smartphone (since around 2013) and had no issues.  The key is getting a holder that doesn't allow your phone to jump off when riding over rough territory.


I use something similar to this.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087G6D572?pd_rd_i=B087G6D572&pf_rd_p=2fa5a177-ff58-47c1-b70e-97fbff1ec480&pf_rd_r=NQ5ZV869QAN8REFJ37V5&pd_rd_wg=GGX7b&pd_rd_w=XY0GT&pd_rd_r=4b94988a-c3ee-4bfa-b87f-8a272322c3a7&th=1


 Exceptionally large phone batteries may be useful but a battery pack in a top tube pack does the job just as well, and can have replaceable batteries.  I use a four battery version of this


https://www.amazon.co.uk/TrustFire-Rechargeable-Waterproof-Interface-Headlamp/dp/B07HNVLJSM/ref=sxin_16_pa_sp_search_thematic_sspa?content-id=amzn1.sym.ede10c6f-285d-4b9a-b52b-5a67018f02d9%3Aamzn1.sym.ede10c6f-285d-4b9a-b52b-5a67018f02d9&crid=JJMVW5B6OIR5&cv_ct_cx=18650+waterproof+battery+pack&keywords=18650+waterproof+battery+pack&pd_rd_i=B07HNVLJSM&pd_rd_r=b3c0df4e-98f4-48c0-8c50-f56789948c0e&pd_rd_w=4OYXR&pd_rd_wg=znX9b&pf_rd_p=ede10c6f-285d-4b9a-b52b-5a67018f02d9&pf_rd_r=FXSDZZTC1M1258Q465XZ&qid=1680865073&s=electronics&sbo=RZvfv%2F%2FHxDF%2BO5021pAnSA%3D%3D&sprefix=18650+waterproof+battery+pack%2Celectronics%2C83&sr=1-28-348cbd3d-5326-49d0-9a61-a07d46fb35bd-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9zZWFyY2hfdGhlbWF0aWM&psc=1



My phones die because they eventually get dropped or the internal battery loses the ability to hold charge after about 3 years or so.


For waterproofing I just put the phone in a plastic bag (if its raining) that is sufficiently long that it has good coverage of the usb connector.  You need to try and find plastic bags with a matt finish or put up with lots of reflections from the bag.  For the phone itself I always install a matt, antireflective screen protector.


I can ride a 200km Audax and still have 100% in my phone battery.  Two sets of batteries gets me through a 300km ride.  I use the battery pack to power one of my front lights as well (B&M 150 lux jobbie for e-bikes) and get over 5 hours for batteries and phone on a single set of batteries.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #8 on: 07 April, 2023, 12:17:15 pm »
Are the rugged phones fast charge too? My a70 is not rugged as he only 20w charging. I think flagship Samsung are 60w or so.

20w is fast charge, the 45w-100w is what you call super fast charging.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #9 on: 07 December, 2023, 02:54:44 pm »
I've been using a Samsung S10e for a number of years now. The important thing is not so much the waterproofness of the phone since the S10e is waterproof, but the electrical connection between charging cable and the usb-c socket. Once water gets in there it's game over....at least that is until it dries out which could be well after the ride has finished. Get a watertight case, if one exists for your phone, ensuring there is a hole for the cable to go into. There will be a rubber flap that keeps the hole watertight when the cable is not inserted. If there is a gap around the cable and the case then use sugru to fill this gap. Look on aliexpress for waterproof cases for your phone model, at least that's what I did. The biggest energy consumer on any phone is the screen so veer towards a not too flashy screen. My s10e is perfect . The screen's not too big nor too small. In conjunction with Osmand I frequently finish audaxes with 100% battery life charged off my dynamo (even with lights too) and that's with music via bluetooth earphones and navigation using audio and visual cues. The screen comes on only when an announcement is made and this is the primary reason so little energy is used by the phone.

Also with regards to attaching to bike I use a universal Quad Lock attachment stuk to the case. It has a very low profile so doesn't feel cumbersome in the pocket but holds the phone very firmly to the bike. It won't come loose so long as you use alcohol to clean the surfaces prior to bonding.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #10 on: 07 December, 2023, 03:09:21 pm »
Qi charging (which can even be done via an intergrated Quadlock mount) solves the waterproof charging problem, though it is slower and wastes some energy.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #11 on: 08 December, 2023, 11:08:47 am »
The best system is Garmins whose units have the metal contacts on the underside providing a direct mechanical connection. Wireless charging is too inefficient if working from a dynamo, illustrated by the amount of heat generated from that charging method. I wouldn't recommend it using a spare battery pack either. Anything on a bicycle has to be as efficient as possible if it's to be of practical use on long rides.

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #12 on: 08 December, 2023, 04:58:59 pm »
I have been wondering about using a phone instead of my current Garmin device when on the bike - mobile phones benefit from much higher investment in the devices and general infrastructure, so they should progress much more quickly (and I'm reasonably convinced that Garmin is always at least two generations behind a current mobile phone in underlying technology).

To this end I experimented when out riding today, using each of RideWithGPS, Strava and an Apple Watch instead of my Garmin Edge 1030. I'm using an Apple iPhone 13 mini mounted on my bike using a Quadlock adapter (with which I have no problems).

In trying out this test I realised that it's important to determine why you are using the Garmin. For me there are three typical use cases:
1) recording a ride over a route that I know well, or where someone else is responsible for route finding,
2) recording a ride and following a route in an area that I know, but I'm responsible for ensuring that we go a particular way,
3) recording a ride and following a route that I don't know (Audax generally falls into this category for me.

All three require recording the route, and in my case I don't need feedback about that process during the ride. To that end, recording using an Apple Watch that I don't look at works just fine - no need for any other device.

If following a route, my preference is to have the route always visible on the device. I don't generally have turn indications or any spoken instructions - I'm happy to glance at the device occasionally. I do like to be told when I've gone wrong (usually sped past a turn).

In that vein, and "as best I can figure":
- RideWithGPS will help me follow the route using spoken prompts and noises, but will not keep the screen on showing the route,
- Strava will help me follow the route by keeping the screen on (by default it dims), but will not tell me when to turn or that I have gone off route,
- the Apple Watch will record the ride, but not show me a route at all, even when paired with the phone as an extended display.

Essentially, none of them would let me achieve what I have with the Garmin when it comes to following a route.

Is there any other software that I should try?

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #13 on: 08 December, 2023, 05:22:55 pm »
I wrote my own, BikeGPX. It keeps the screen on. It beeps when you go off route. It will beep for turns*.

Neither Strava nor RideWithGPS have decided if they’re Garmin companions or competitors, and they’re route following features are therefore somewhat half-arsed.

(* paid feature)

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #14 on: 08 December, 2023, 08:35:33 pm »
BikeGPX looks very much as though it will do what I want. Will try it and see!

Thanks for the suggestion (and creating it).

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #15 on: 09 December, 2023, 06:49:55 am »
I have been wondering about using a phone instead of my current Garmin device when on the bike - mobile phones benefit from much higher investment in the devices and general infrastructure, so they should progress much more quickly (and I'm reasonably convinced that Garmin is always at least two generations behind a current mobile phone in underlying technology).

To this end I experimented when out riding today, using each of RideWithGPS, Strava and an Apple Watch instead of my Garmin Edge 1030. I'm using an Apple iPhone 13 mini mounted on my bike using a Quadlock adapter (with which I have no problems).

In trying out this test I realised that it's important to determine why you are using the Garmin. For me there are three typical use cases:
1) recording a ride over a route that I know well, or where someone else is responsible for route finding,
2) recording a ride and following a route in an area that I know, but I'm responsible for ensuring that we go a particular way,
3) recording a ride and following a route that I don't know (Audax generally falls into this category for me.

All three require recording the route, and in my case I don't need feedback about that process during the ride. To that end, recording using an Apple Watch that I don't look at works just fine - no need for any other device.

If following a route, my preference is to have the route always visible on the device. I don't generally have turn indications or any spoken instructions - I'm happy to glance at the device occasionally. I do like to be told when I've gone wrong (usually sped past a turn).

In that vein, and "as best I can figure":
- RideWithGPS will help me follow the route using spoken prompts and noises, but will not keep the screen on showing the route,
- Strava will help me follow the route by keeping the screen on (by default it dims), but will not tell me when to turn or that I have gone off route,
- the Apple Watch will record the ride, but not show me a route at all, even when paired with the phone as an extended display.

Essentially, none of them would let me achieve what I have with the Garmin when it comes to following a route.

Is there any other software that I should try?
I bought the app WorkOutdoors for my Apple Watch and it shows a map on the watch which is very handy. The iPhone App also has a map. That might be worth looking at too although I don’t think it solves the problem of the screen going off. However, if you go off route the watch buzzes/vibrates at you.
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #16 on: 09 December, 2023, 08:40:50 am »
I suspect that following a route on the watch while riding will not be to my taste, but I’ve downloaded the app to try, thanks.

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #17 on: 09 December, 2023, 10:25:13 am »
I didn’t mean it for that really, more that you could use the phone app for the map and the watch buzzes when off route which is handy.

When walking I use the watch map as it’s easier than constantly getting the phone out of my pocket.

Also watch app with map is good when running (I don’t take my phone).
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #18 on: 10 December, 2023, 04:32:18 pm »
Tried BikeGPX when out for a ride following a provided route today. Summary: it works well!

Great things:
  • the route was provided as a link to ridewithgps, opened the link, which opened the ridewithgps app, used "export to GPX" which offered BikeGPX as a target, which imported the route - all done on the phone and very straightforward,
  • the big fat red line that shows the route is very easy to see,
  • screen stays on all of the time, but automatically dims, but then gets brighter when a turn is coming up - this is excellent!
  • at the end of the ride connecting to Strava and uploading was easy, and again all done on the phone.
Things that I would like to be able to change:
  • the default font for the dashboard is quite thin - it would be good to be able to choose a bolder font (though perhaps I should try using dark mode),
  • I could not hear the turn indicator noises, nor that for when I (deliberately, honest) went wrong - it may be that I just need to turn up the volume on the phone,
  • the ride was uploaded to Strava as a "workout" rather than a bike ride - easy to fix on Strava, of course.
The ride was a little over 3.5 hours, and the phone battery died just as I got home. I had a charger with me, but wanted to see how far I could push it. This is fine for me - I will rig up something so that I can charge the phone while on the go.

Overall, a success, and I will be using it more in the future. Thanks again Graham.

Pingu

  • Put away those fiery biscuits!
  • Mrs Pingu's domestique
    • the Igloo
Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #19 on: 10 December, 2023, 04:59:06 pm »
...the ride was uploaded to Strava as a "workout" rather than a bike ride...

Strava seems to be doing this at the moment. It used to manage to match an activity to a gpx reasonably well.

Kim

  • Timelord
    • Fediverse
Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #20 on: 10 December, 2023, 05:50:41 pm »
...the ride was uploaded to Strava as a "workout" rather than a bike ride...

Strava seems to be doing this at the moment. It used to manage to match an activity to a gpx reasonably well.

Discussed in this thread: https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=127392.0

Re: Best current tough phone for gps plus smartphone use?
« Reply #21 on: 11 December, 2023, 09:10:03 am »
Great things:

Thanks!

Quote
the default font for the dashboard is quite thin - it would be good to be able to choose a bolder font (though perhaps I should try using dark mode),

Yes.

Quote
I could not hear the turn indicator noises, nor that for when I (deliberately, honest) went wrong - it may be that I just need to turn up the volume on the phone,

The alert sounds are at the mercy of the system volume control buttons. There's a to-do list item for adding an on-screen warning that volume is low.

Quote
the ride was uploaded to Strava as a "workout" rather than a bike ride - easy to fix on Strava, of course.

Need to fix that. "Bike ride" was the default when I wrote the feature, so the bug wasn't obvious.

Quote
The ride was a little over 3.5 hours, and the phone battery died just as I got home.

That's pretty poor going unless it's an old phone. Dark mode will definitely help.