Stand Alone versus Cell Phone Based GPS: Which is Right for You? - Sturdiness
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Most GPS devices are relatively sturdy. I wouldn't go and drop them off of the roof, but if you are holding it and you accidentally slip, you won't break it. As for your phone, well that is a different story. There are so many models with different ratings of sturdiness that I can not say with confidence how sturdy it is. You know the limits of your phone. If you don't, check out a review. There are a lot of phones that are pretty delicate, and some that are literally meant to be punished.
Getting your signal
I can not say with certainty that you will always have a signal, as this will vary depending on your location. When you use a stand alone model, it is getting information about your current position by communicating with a satellite. This means that in very bad weather you may have signal problems with a stand alone GPS. The general rule of thumb here is that if it would knock out your satellite TV, it could do the same to your GPS.
A phone based model will get its signal from your cell phone service provider. When your phone loses its signal, you can lose your GPS as well. The only way to gauge how often this will happen is to have a good feel for your wireless network. This one is essentially a matter of experience.
Now, I said that we were going to come to a conclusion about which one is better, but to be honest the one that is right for me may not be right for you. I have given you the basic tools that you need in order to make that decision, but before you make a final decision I suggest that you talk to your carrier and read reviews on stand alone models in your price range. That way you are making a truly informed decision based on the options in front of you.
Oh, there is just one final note about getting a phone-based GPS that we need to cover before you make a decision. Not all cell phones are able to support the GPS features from your service provider. As this piece is meant to be universal, and not tailored to one service provider, I can not list the models. Even if I did, with the pace of new cell phone development, that list would quickly become out of date.
The best advice that I can give you is to give your wireless service provider a call or stop by a retail location in order to ask about this. If your phone does not support this feature, then you will have to upgrade, and that can affect your decision.
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