- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets
Use Your Smartphone's GPS and Never Pay for a GPS Again
Many people who own smartphones, especially of the Android variety, still spend a significant amount of money on buying a stand-alone GPS unit such as a TomTom or Garmin. These devices often cost upwards of $150. The truth is that your phone can actually act as a GPS, with accurate, detailed directions, and it usually comes free with your phone. Many people think that their phones could never function as a GPS and so they spend a lot of money on a separate unit, thinking the directions will be better and more accurate. But they're not.
First, you have to make sure your phone has a GPS unit built-in. To do this, just do a simple search on Google for "using GPS on" and your phone's model. I have a Droid, and learned that it has a built-in GPS just by poking around in the menu.
If you have an iPhone, your phone has a GPS, and you have several apps to choose from. The only free app (you're here to save money, so why pay for it, right?) is Mapquest 4 Mobile, which you can download from the app store. It isn't the best GPS in the world, which is why you're better off with an Android phone, which I'll explain next. The iPhone doesn't compare in terms of navigation, to Google's phone. The iPhone does allow you to browse Google's Maps, but you won't get turn-by-turn directions with it.
If you have an Android phone, you're in much better luck. Google released its navigation app for Android, and I have found it to be ten times better than my GPS unit. The App is clean, well-designed, and has easy to use controls. The directions are excellent, and based on Google's ever-expanding stockpile of maps. The GPS in my Droid recognized my position, even when I was under the cover of trees and in remote areas. Navigation is pre-installed with the Android Operating System, so using it is as simple as opening an app. Another advantage is Google Street view, which will show you real-life images of the intersections.
Google's Navigator worked so well, that I bought a GPS dock for my phone and have completely phased out the use of my old GPS. The maps on my phone are more up to date, and speak the street names to me. In order to get that feature on a GPS unit, I'd have to pay a lot more money. So if you want to save money, check to see if your phone has a GPS and use it!
Warning - Some older phones use Verizon's VZW Navigator app, which will charge you a fee. Make sure you are using Google's app, and not Verizon's to avoid charges.