GeoCache: GPS vs. iPhone

JugglerPeople always want what they can’t have. Then when they get what they want, they often realize they always had everything they needed. I wanted an apple iphone for years, but couldn’t afford it. This month, I justified the iphone purchase because I anticipated the miraculous iphone would replace other gadgets, such as my former Kyocera cell phone, Kodak digital camera, Garmin windshield GPS, and Garmin handheld GPS. I’m disappointed to admit my new iphone challenges some of those devices, but hasn’t replaced any of them. The one I’m most surprised about is the handheld GPS.

I geocached for 4-1/2 months without an iphone. I learned how to use all necessary features on my (the teacher’s) Garmin GPS and I’m learning the same about the iphone (all mine), but I was surprised how both devices have their unique pros and cons – making each a valuable tool on my geocaching journeys.

Good GPS 🙂

  • rugged and waterproof
  • download and store cache lists
  • easy-to-read icons and directions
  • good battery-life
  • handy and strong tether
  • does one thing really well
  • locate found cache lists easily

Good iPhone 🙂

  • spontaneous caching
  • no downloads required
  • real-time logs
  • access to trackable inventory
  • access all past logs and photos
  • updated satellite maps w/terrain
  • access to other apps
  • does many things really well

Bad GPS 🙁

  • limited to downloaded caches
  • poor map detail
  • poor long-distance accuracy
  • access only last 5 logs
  • only locates caches you downloaded
  • need separate camera for photos

Bad iPhone 🙁

  • durable, but not a rugged device
  • hard to read screen directions
  • jumpy icons
  • low-battery life when caching
  • poor close-up accuracy
  • more difficult to switch screens

I think the Garmin is more reliable and accurate than the iPhone, but I love the ability to cache spontaneously and log real-time. I learned I can geocache without my Garmin, but I feel more confident when I use the Garmin GPS. I also learned the iphone adds a new dimension to locating and logging cache finds. Until one device separates itself or I discover an overwhelming advantage, I will always pack my Garmin and iphone on caching adventures.