Author Topic: iPhone as only GPS device  (Read 4850 times)

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Offline raybagg

iPhone as only GPS device
« on: October 20, 2020, 10:17:34 am »

My wife and I are planning to do the GDMBR in 2021 and were wondering if anyone has used an iPhone as their only electronic GPS device.

I have done numerous shorter tours where we have followed a RideWithGPS route that I had downloaded and was available offline. This tour would be a much greater undertaking.

Our plan would be to use the Adventure Cycling paper maps as well as a GPS. I have also had success using Goal Zero charging blocks in the past. We would have enough juice for 4-6 complete charges.

It seems like there is ample availability of charging options along the route and as long as we're diligent in keeping the charge up, we'd be okay.


Thanks in advance!


Offline John Nelson

Re: iPhone as only GPS device
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2020, 12:26:02 pm »
You can control how much charging capacity you have by the number of power banks you carry. Power banks are getting cheaper and with higher capacity all the time. Carry enough power banks and you can probably go for weeks between outlets. When you get to power again, charge them all.

Offline Inge

Re: iPhone as only GPS device
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2020, 02:38:01 am »
Why not get something like a: Forumslader, Cinq Plug5, Cycle2charge and a test I know this is all in German but Google is you best friend here.

I have the Forumslader and it does a goed job at keeping my phone fully charged. And if you would like to it can also charge a small powerbank.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: iPhone as only GPS device
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2020, 01:16:25 pm »
There are a number of issues in relation to using a phone as a GPS device apart from the charging.
A secure fixing attachment, especially on rough terrain
Visibility in bright light and/or rain - try using a touchscreen in the rain!
Advisability of charging on the go, especially on bumpy terrain - those sockets are very sensitive
Drawing attention of thieves (unlikely on the GDMBR)
And the big one - risk of damage in the event of a fall or crash.

The fact is that your phone is your emergency option in a case of last resort. Personally, I wouldn't be relying on a phone to do everything when I'm off grid on a route like that. Having said that, I'd imagine that your phone will be without a network signal a lot of the time anyway.

If you want to give it serious consideration then try it close to home in as close to the circumstances as you anticipate.

Having only read of the GDMBR I was under the impression that it might be reasonably straightforward to navigate without GPS.

Offline Iowagriz

Re: iPhone as only GPS device
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2020, 02:18:45 pm »
Having ridden from Banff to Lincoln on the GDMBR, I can attest it is easily navigated. I use a phone and it is no problem at all. Gaia is the app I use. Go into airplane mode to save battery. Put it in my jersey pocket or a baggie to keep safe(ish) from crashes and water. Battery pack for spare power, but recharging almost daily is possible at towns.

Maps for backup and/or partner with phone as well.

Enjoy the route, it is a great one.

Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk

Offline cyclist alan

Re: iPhone as only GPS device
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2021, 02:35:48 am »
Phone can cause your problems sometimes. You can go for best bike computers or visit work with. GPS cycling computers use satellites to track your position, accurately calculating speed, distance, and time without wires or magnets. They record your route—and data collected from heart rate, cadence, and power—which you can then upload to a ride-logging service to evaluate your performance for fun or training.

Offline AmyTurner

Re: iPhone as only GPS device
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2021, 07:30:40 am »
Personally, I use only the Iphone in the main, I can not say about long-term tours to different cities, but from point A to point B it was quite enough, there were no failures and problems, the issue was solved with the help of the Power Bank!
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 08:32:29 pm by AmyTurner »

Offline ray b

Re: iPhone as only GPS device
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2021, 07:03:15 pm »
A good question. Aside from battery life (now easily handled with options above), the only issue I've had is that the phone GPS generally uses fewer satellites than dedicated GPS devices, and uses cell towers to help triangulate position. Without the cell towers, it can throw you off route by a couple hundred feet.... Probably not an issue in the mountains where you don't have a high density of roads.

And of course, if you have time, and you're out wandering, ending the day off route is not always bad.... I've done a chunk of the paved routes without problem using just my big Samsung Note 8.

That said, I'm a belt and suspenders guy. Out in the woods, a dedicated GPS unit and a set of paper maps usually find a spot on my rig. Most GPS units are getting smaller and more reliable as they now interact directly with your phone.

Also - as noted elsewhere, nice to leave the GPS on the bike. The phone stays safe with you.

In the end, let us know how it works out. 
“A good man always knows his limitations.”