Everyone has at some stage used their phone as a navigation device. Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind afterwards: “Why are stand-alone navigation devices still being sold?” With our phones becoming more versatile with the addition of cameras, speakers, large storage capacity and, of course, GPS, sales of small digital cameras, mp3 players, and navigation devices have all taken a hit. However, even though your phone may be the most powerful personal gadget you carry, there are some advantages a sat-nav has that a phone lacks in regards to navigation. This blog will list the advantages and disadvantages of navigating using a phone versus a sat-nav.
The biggest advantage a phone has over a sat-nav is its ease of use. Simply open up Apple maps or Google maps, type in your destination and away you go.
Dedicated navigation apps are also available, which can offer some additional features not offered by sat-navs (like points-of-interest, or an SOS function). Many of them are available for free, while others may require a one-off payment.
No need to purchase an additional device for navigation.
You will never have to worry about maps being out of date, because they are maintained by their respective providers.
Turning on your phone’s location service to connect to the GPS and using data roaming will drain your phone’s battery very quickly – not ideal for long road trips (unless you get a 12V cigarette lighter charger).
Turning on location and roaming will use your data allowance. Going over your allocated allowance will cost you additionally if you continue to use the cellular network.
Accurate navigation depends on the availability of the cellular network. This is not a problem in urban areas, but as son as you enter regional areas or the outback, cellular networks may be weak or unavailable. If you get lost in the middle of nowhere without coverage, you’d be stranded.
In Australia, it is illegal for a provisional or learner driver to use a phone while driving under any circumstance, including navigation.
(Photo by Gareth Simpson, via WikiMedia Commons)
A standalone Sat-navs is relatively inexpensive, compared to a phone. Modern cars may even be equipped with an in-built satellite-navigation system.
A cellular network and a plan are not required. The only connection a sat-nav needs is the GPS, which is available anywhere in the world.
A good sat-nav can also alter your route to avoid congestion according to real-time traffic updates.
Provisional license holders can legally use a dedicated navigation device while driving.
A satellite navigation device is just for that: navigation. Which means that it’s an additional device that you have to carry with you.
Some sat-navs can have clunky and unintuitive interfaces. If you plan on buying one, do some research and compare the different brands and models.
Due to sat-navs not being connected to any cellular network, they will require you to frequently update them by connecting it to your computer and downloading the new maps.
In the end, it all comes down to preference and your intended route. For longer road trips, a stand-alone satellite navigation device may be preferable. If you’re just making a quick drive to somewhere unfamiliar, your phone is more than adequate. Provisional drivers may favour a sat-nav given that using a phone while driving is illegal. While a navigation app on a phone can offer some features not found on a sat-nav, a phone’s navigation capability does not match that of a satellite navigation device, whose main function is navigation. However, again, it’s all about preference and where you’re going.