1. littlebigman's Avatar

    I'm located in Europe, and often go for bike rides, sometimes in neighboring countries, in which case my Galaxy Nexus no longer has a data connection (Roaming charges would cost too much when using it for several days).

    Problem is, I noticed that with a data connection and sitting outside, GPS locates me within a few seconds while without, it just doesn't work even after riding the whole day. So I'm stuck with offline maps but no way to know where I am.

    I read that it could help to get either a Motorola because their GPS chip is supposed to be good, or get a phone that supports both GPS and Glonass.

    I only use the phone for satnav and reading stuff on the web, and have an external battery for day-long rides so battery life isn't an issue, but there are so many phones that I'm a bit lost as to what to get:
    • Solid satnav, even without a data connection
    • Screen size about the same as a Galaxy Nexus, ie. 4.5"; Big enough to read, small enough to fit in my pocket
    • Up to €350/$380 without a subscription

    Which phones would you recommend?

    Thanks for any help.
    12-30-2014 05:58 AM
  2. Rukbat's Avatar
    My Note 3 works just fine with offline maps and no data connection. Some people have problems with the same model. It depends on the use, not the equipment.

    Remember, if you're under dense tree cover, the only location services available are cellphone towers and wifi routers - satellite signals don't penetrate shielding like that. (When figuring out microwave backhauls - how to get the signal from the cell tower back to the central office by microwave - the loss due to trees in the path in late spring, when the leaves are at their wettest, has to be taken into account, or a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars/Euros are wasted.) If you're out in the open, any but the poorest GPS receivers should work without a data connection.
    12-30-2014 06:07 AM
  3. Rukbat's Avatar
    If you want a 4.5" (or 4.3") screen, they should be fine.

    They come with Google Maps. Install GPS Status & Toolbox so you can see what the GPS receiver is actually seeing if you ever have a situation in which you have to wonder. If it's not getting transmissions from more than 3 satellites (which you'll see), you're not going to get a fix. (That's not the phone's problem - you need at least 4 signals to do the math for a 2D fix, 3 signals and you can only be located as being somewhere along an arc. If you're only getting 2 signals you're somewhere inside a HUGE circle, which you already know, because the circle is basically the orbital circumference of the satellites, and you know your location better than that - you know you're on a circle on the surface of the planet, +/- a few feet. A fifth signal will give your altitude and a 6th will give you the precise time. More than that will just make the 2D location more accurate.)

    (Don't assume from that simplistic description that the math is simple. It's doing the impossible starting with the unknowable. And it takes less than 1 second. Computers are great at doing small, repetitive things over and over very quickly. Humans are good at making mistakes very slowly.)
    12-30-2014 07:34 PM
  4. littlebigman's Avatar
    Thanks much for the infos.

    FWIW, I had to use the GPS mode on the Galaxy Nexus several times without a data connection, and it either worked badly (ie. it would take several minutes to locate me, and then be unable to keep track while moving around) or not at all.
    This week-end, it didn't work at all, although I was riding a bike in the country-side the whole day in open skies, so trees weren't the issue. However, when connecting to a wifi hotspot, GPS would locate me within a few seconds.

    Elsewhere, someone mentioned this Phone Finder that includes "Glonass". The LG Nexus 5 looked good, but production is scheduled to end soon and Nexus 6 is too big; I guess I'll go for a Motorola or an HTC.

    Thank you.
    12-31-2014 11:41 AM

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