It’s true that smartphones are rapidly overtaking GPS technology, and since everyone has a cell phone, for some people it might seem like a waste of money to buy a device that does something your smartphone can already do. Heck, that mentality is exactly what keeps me from getting a tablet—I already have a phone and a laptop; how could I possibly justify the expense?
However, what many people don’t realize is that while smartphones do have a lot of overlap with dedicated GPS devices, there are things that really make it far more worthwhile than people realize. And yes, you could get around most of these if you really wanted to, but using a GPS device negates the need for all of those workarounds.
GPS devices are designed to be used in the car.
Smartphones aren’t meant to be read while driving—they are designed to entertain and connect while you’re sitting still. But, GPS devices often take into account the fact that drivers can’t look away from the road for more than a second, so the devices are usually sunlight-readable and feature larger screens with bright colors, big fonts, and simple graphics that are designed to be understood at a glance.
GPS devices are usually mounted
Sure, you could buy a car mount for your smartphone online, but let’s be honest here—how many people actually do that? Most people tend to cradle their phones in their laps, set them in the passenger seat with the screen up, or hold them; all things that are way less safe. GPS devices, however, always come with a mount, so it’s easier to see and use while driving from the get-go. And, unlike a phone, there is not as much temptation to simply hold it, provided it’s an automobile GPS device.
GPS devices are more accurate
Generally speaking, dedicated GPS devices are actually more accurate than a phone GPS will be. Phones use a combination of satellites and network towers to obtain GPS information, while GPS devices usually only use satellites—sometimes more than one system of satellites, depending on your device. Additionally, you can sometimes get better signals with a GPS device.
GPS devices have better batteries
Most GPS devices actually hook into your car and don’t even have batteries, but even if it does have batteries, chances are they’ll last a lot longer than your smartphone. And, even if they are about the same, you won’t have to deal with the inconvenience of having yards of cords getting tangled up as you use a car charger to keep your smartphone from dying.
GPS devices have better features
Sure, your smartphone is pretty smart, but it simply can’t beat all of the features that is standard on many automotive GPS devices. A few can’t-live-without features include better directions (based on street names rather than feet), turn previews, lane assist, preloaded POIs, destination prediction, and real time traffic updates that actually are helpful. There are smartphone GPS apps that do many of those things, but you’ll not find it all in one spot, and certainly not with the same efficiency as a GPS device.