smartphone vs Garmin

by lisa76uk   February 20, 2014  

I have had a good Google and look through the forums but can't find an answer. I currently use my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to record rides/runs on Strava. I'm not in any serious training regime at all, but I like to keep a track of what I'm doing and how I am 'improving' Laughing I use a Zephyr HxM heart rate monitor with it and obviously have the GPS on. I know the phone has a barometer but, because I use a waterproof pouch while out, I'm not convinced the barometer is getting accurate readings inside the sealed pouch. Also the Note 2 is a big phone to be taking out regularly.

I've considered getting a smaller Android to put my SIM into while out, but that would still potentially have problems with the barometer. I've looked at some Garmin devices and because I also run I as looking at the Foreunner 310XT which has a quick release kit to switch between a wrist strap and a bike mount. Does anyone have any experience of using this Garmin device at all or know how accurate it might be?

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Unless your waterproof pouch is insanely rigid (like a steel box) then the pressure sensing device in your phone will be unaffected by being inside it. I'm curious why you want a barometer reading anyway - does it also function as an altimeter? I'd think your gps could give more accurate altitude measurements than a phone sensor.

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posted by Jez Ash [66 posts]
20th February 2014 - 14:20

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GPS is very inaccurate for altitude measurements. All the satellites can be thought of as being in a very similar Z-plane (altitude), so triangulation along the Z-axis - altitude - is very difficult to ascertain accurately. This is why any decent piece of kit that tries to measure altitude does not rely on GPS, but corrects with a barometric altimeter.

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posted by jmaccelari [91 posts]
20th February 2014 - 14:31

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fair enough. I have a Cateye cycle computer with a built-in barometer and it was startling inconsistent and inaccurate. I guess you can get better ones!

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posted by Jez Ash [66 posts]
20th February 2014 - 14:57

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Garmin and Strava use topography data for altitude, so when you upload your route it should correct it and put in the right ascent and descent values. As for what to use, Dedicated GPS unit over a phone all the time. That comes from experience and using them for navigation in the middle of no where on a MTB.

posted by Shep73 [118 posts]
20th February 2014 - 19:59

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I've got a Foreunner 310XT and it's ace. I have it set on my bike for speed, distance, time, cadence and heart rate. I also use it when running. But...I also use a smartphone with Endomondo on it as I find this makes it easier to log my rides as the data transfer is instant whereas I have to get the garmin dongle out and a laptop to analyse my ride. I keep my smartphone in an Otterbox so if I do crash (which I do when on my mountain bike) it's safe. You can get an ottebox for your galaxy but you're right the note 2 is a little bulky. It's not waterproof but will stop most moisture and dust getting in to the places you don't want it. I've had my phone for 3 years in it and it's taken a fair few beatings!

Sony do an Xperia smartphone that's waterproof if that's your greatest concern.

posted by MrJF [2 posts]
20th February 2014 - 21:09

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Can't go wrong with a garmin 500. Bought mine primarily to help me navigate around roads I've never visited before. But now I also record and upload how rubbish I am as well!

posted by Scoob_84 [105 posts]
21st February 2014 - 9:47

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Scoob_84 wrote:
Can't go wrong with a garmin 500. Bought mine primarily to help me navigate around roads I've never visited before. But now I also record and upload how rubbish I am as well!

Exactly the same reasons but went for an 800 with os maps for off-road
"getting lost" as well Smile

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [585 posts]
21st February 2014 - 10:57

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I have a Garmin 610 GPS watch that has running and cycling mode and can connect to both hrm and cadence sensor and works a treat and is not very bulky , would definitely recommend.

posted by Dixon25 [3 posts]
21st February 2014 - 12:01

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MrJF wrote:
I've got a Foreunner 310XT and it's ace. I have it set on my bike for speed, distance, time, cadence and heart rate. I also use it when running. But...I also use a smartphone with Endomondo on it as I find this makes it easier to log my rides as the data transfer is instant whereas I have to get the garmin dongle out and a laptop to analyse my ride. I keep my smartphone in an Otterbox so if I do crash (which I do when on my mountain bike) it's safe. You can get an ottebox for your galaxy but you're right the note 2 is a little bulky. It's not waterproof but will stop most moisture and dust getting in to the places you don't want it. I've had my phone for 3 years in it and it's taken a fair few beatings!

Sony do an Xperia smartphone that's waterproof if that's your greatest concern.


Superb phone that I've used for filming under water but I wouldn't want to stick it on the bike. Being glass it won't take many knocks.

posted by Shep73 [118 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:02

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Garmin for strava & nav.
Phone for, phone stuff.
I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket, using strava kills my battery life unless you turn off a load of functionality, and makes having a phone pointless.
You can pick up an Edge 500 for £160 from garmin, so bound to be less elsewhere.

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posted by glynr36 [127 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:21

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glynr36 wrote:
Garmin for strava & nav.
Phone for, phone stuff.
I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket, using strava kills my battery life unless you turn off a load of functionality, and makes having a phone pointless.
You can pick up an Edge 500 for £160 from garmin, so bound to be less elsewhere.

All you have to do is turn data/3G off. Takes seconds, phone still works as a phone and battery life on a iphone 4s goes up to well over 12hrs with Strava and Viewranger running.

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posted by S13SFC [40 posts]
21st February 2014 - 20:31

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Lisa76UK, you could do worse than read this thread: http://road.cc/content/forum/108899-smartphones-and-long-rides-strategy

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posted by KiwiMike [366 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:07

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It all depends on what you expect to do with your phone/Garmin device. If you're going for a two or three hour ride maybe your phone is sufficient. If you're happy just to record your efforts in Strava with the smart phone screen switched off, you might get quite a few more hours out of the battery. However if you planned a route to follow and your out all day where you want to be able to see the screen whenever you need (following a route), the display will have to be on all the time. I don't think any phone can do this while the GPS is running. If you want to ride all day with the screen on you will need a backup battery for you phone.

If you read the Garmin blurb an 800/810 battery lasts 17 hours - I'm not sure if thats with the screen on, but if it is then a Garmin would be a much better option than a smart phone in my opinion.

In the past 2 years I have used an iPhone running ViewRanger when doing my century rides, but it is a complete PITA. I would love to hear from anyone with either 800/810 that can verify if it can run all day with the display turned on. I would expect the screen's backlight would have to be at a minimum, but as long as it could be read without too much trouble..

posted by wellcoordinated [35 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 16:18

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I think I'm leaning more towards a Garmin device at the moment. I've just come back from a run with my trusty Android only to find the GPS had failed and not recorded the route. *Gah!* It DID record the time and I was able to map out the distance of the route on good old Google Maps but it's not as accurate (I ran 15km btw, furthest I've done for a while, I thank you Party ). I will probably go for the 310XT simply because I can switch it easily between wrist strap and bike mount and due to limited budget (thanks for that bipolar/credit card!). Thanks for all the comments and suggestions!

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posted by lisa76uk [20 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 20:01

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wellcoordinated wrote:
It all depends on what you expect to do with your phone/Garmin device. If you're going for a two or three hour ride maybe your phone is sufficient. If you're happy just to record your efforts in Strava with the smart phone screen switched off, you might get quite a few more hours out of the battery. However if you planned a route to follow and your out all day where you want to be able to see the screen whenever you need (following a route), the display will have to be on all the time. I don't think any phone can do this while the GPS is running. If you want to ride all day with the screen on you will need a backup battery for you phone.

If you read the Garmin blurb an 800/810 battery lasts 17 hours - I'm not sure if thats with the screen on, but if it is then a Garmin would be a much better option than a smart phone in my opinion.

In the past 2 years I have used an iPhone running ViewRanger when doing my century rides, but it is a complete PITA. I would love to hear from anyone with either 800/810 that can verify if it can run all day with the display turned on. I would expect the screen's backlight would have to be at a minimum, but as long as it could be read without too much trouble..


Battery lasts ok, the screen never goes black on the Garmin, it just turns the back light off so you can always see the different screens. It also automatically scrolls through the set screens. I use mine for HRM and cadence as well. fully charged I have over 50% battery left from a 50 mile ride, which is around 2.5-3 hours use.

posted by Shep73 [118 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 20:57

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