GPS – Help – Garmin 500/800 or Smart Phone

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  • GPS – Help – Garmin 500/800 or Smart Phone
  • Selled

    Trying hard to come to a decision on which way to go with this. Need some advice from anyone more in the know!!!

    Here’s what I want:

    1) A device that can guide me when I am occaisonally in a new area, must not be turn for turn but something I can upload routes to.
    2) A bit of a toy – Edmondo or Strava apps seem to satisfy this.

    I was playing with the GPS / Maps app on my daughters Smart phone and it was fairly good.

    So… why would I buy a dedicated GPS device for a lot of money when I can also get a Smart Phone and have all the other benefits of a smart phone?

    Advice appreciated.


    How are you going to attach the phone to the handlebars?
    Most phones are not waterproof, and not very rugged. So will probably break if drop it.
    And what is the battery life like? Most phones only last a few hours with GPS on.
    And the touchscreen may not work in the rain, or if you are wearing gloves.

    Battery lasts longer on a dedicated device, they are also more water resistant than a phone, easier to use with gloves on when on the go etc.

    smart phones are great bits of kit these days and will do the job fine but i take mine with me incase i need to make or receive a phone call. Using it as a gps logger risks that – either from the battery running out, or the phone being damaged when on the bars.


    I got an Edge 500 because of what the people above said. For me a phone is on a ride with me in case someone needs to urgently get hold of me or I need to get hold of someone (emergencies, crashes etc). I did a few long rides and the phone was down to 20% and it occurred to me that had I not gone out with it at 100% I’d have been phone less. Not a problem 99.9% of the time but given I’ve called an ambulance for a mate on more than one occasion, I didn’t fancy not being able to do it in future.

    The 500 manages a weekend of riding without a recharge so I’m happy with it.


    Smart phones are pretty good in that there is plenty of good apps that do mapping and cycling specific stuff including heart rate monitor connection etc.

    A dedicated GPS is obviously going to be better but you need to go with the 800 if you need mapping.

    Have been using smart phones for about 6 or 7 years. Water proofing was always the biggest pain and have used lots of different cases with different success.

    Getting a rugged one is the best way forward. Currently using a Motorola Defy plus. It is waterproof and a good size to fit on the stem. I use a modified aluminum case cable tied to the stem.

    I use RunGPS app which is really good and very customizeable. I also use a polar Bluebooth heart rate band with it. Never had any issues with it’s waterproofing. Has survived all weathers even very muddy cross races. Has various options for off road mapping including OS.

    Battery life is okay if you set up the screen usage properly. Will do 6 to 7 hours easily. Can use the touch screen with normal MTB gloves but struggle with full winter ones. Heavy rain can affect the touch screen (ghost touches). Sun light viewing is okay but not brilliant.

    Not sure what way I will go when it is time to change this phone. There is nothing newer which offers all the Defy does so might end up getting a normal phone and an 800.

    Defys are pretty cheap now but make sure you get a plus model as there are some hardware issues with the original defy.


    Premier Icon cp

    I went with an 800 because:-

    * The screen is WAY WAY better than the smartphone in direct sunlight.

    * It’s a far more waterproof unit than most (all?) smartphones

    * I can get 15+ hours out of it, whereas I’m lucky to get more than 4-5 or so from a smartphone

    * It mates up with HR and Cadence sensors

    * It’s much smaller and can neatly mount on top of the stem

    Premier Icon easygirl

    I have an 800, which is great, but
    iPhone 5 running memory map is way better, the quality of the screen is fantastic, the maps are super clear compared to any other device I have used.
    Just need a waterproof case with a built in battery extender, and I’d sell the other GPS I have


    Got an Edge 500 after reading lots of reviews. Found my iPhone would be flat after about 3 hours


    After these responses I was fixed on the Garmin 800. Then I considered also something for running. Has anyone experience with the Garmin 910xt?


    I use my iPhone running strava. It seems a lot more efficient with battery life than runkeeper was. I also don’t look at it during my ride. I just stick it in a sock and shove it in my camelbak. Get home, upload the data and look how ace you were


    selled – just stick the 800 in your pocket when running ? thats all i did with my 200 before the piece of crap stopped working – garmins lovely shoddy known battery connector fault that they say “never seen that before”

    Premier Icon jam bo

    I’m probably selling my garmin 200 in favour of my iPhone. Mostly as I can’t be arsed connecting it to a pc to upload tracks.


    If you arent into HRM and Cadence dont bother with an edge. Get a Garmin Etrex or similar.

    I wrote an article covering this topic a while back
    10 reasons to ditch phone apps and get a proper gps for your bike.

    An extra reason, that I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet, is the accuracy of the gps tracking.
    Here’s another post showing some screen shots of my garmin tracks versus the same ride recorded on an iphone.

    Hope that gives you some food for thought


    Reasons to go with your smart phone:

    My tracks app on my android phone for logging £0
    Back country navigator app for OS maps available offline £8
    New 2400mAh phone battery off eBay £10
    Portable 5000mAh charger for multi day camping bike tours £30
    Edit: Zip lock bag for water proofing: £0.02


    Garmin 800. £300+

    (The Garmin 200 and 500 don’t do maps)


    Don’t you need to add the cost of the phone there for comparison?

    The OP suggests he’d have to get one

    Premier Icon Bez

    I use an Edge 200 and a Sony Xperia Active for navigation…

    In favour of both:
    – they are both a nice compact size
    – they are both waterproof
    – they both have solid handlebar mounts
    – both can be charged from either a USB battery or a dyno USB charger whilst riding

    In favour of the Xperia:
    – you can be logging direct to the web as you go, and/or as soon as you finish
    – being Android, you can customise the nuts off of it, so:
    – you can make the maps highly visible in any light (I have a map style which is far clearer than any other I’ve used)
    – you can get applications which adjust the GPS polling to conserve battery life, to the point where it will go as long as an Edge provided you have the screen off most of the time
    – you can get the screen to display the info you want
    – it is futureproof, you can adopt any new logging/mapping/navigation app that comes along
    – uploading/downloading maps/routes/etc can be done wirelessly, instantly, and (almost) anywhere

    In favour of the Edge:
    – for most people, it will cover any ride on a single charge at full logging detail
    – it has buttons instead of a capacitive touchscreen, making it easier to use with gloves and when covered with water (that said, I can set the Xperia up so that a single press on the lock button goes into the map view)
    – it’s cheaper (though of course this isn’t true of the 800)
    – the 200 has no navigational alerting at all, you just follow a wiggly line

    In reality I think 90% of the time, the Edge for following a planned route plus a smartphone for maps when you need them is the easiest way. I’ve navigated a 360-mile route on unfamiliar roads with the Xperia and it did admirably well, but for more local rides it’s probably overkill. That said, the fact that an Edge makes you dependent on a PC makes it feel like last century’s technology IMO.

    The smartphone can be a good solution if you get the right one (eg, only the Xperia has a bar mount I’d consider using) *and* you’re prepared to faff with setting it up and finding apps that work for you. If you’re less obsessive about setting stuff up and prefer to just go with what Garmin think is best then the 800 will suit. If you’d prefer not to pay for the 800 then the 200 plus a cheap Android phone would give you pretty much the best of both worlds, provided you’re happy with not necessarily having maps always visible on the bars (that’s the big ask, and that’s where the 800 comes in).


    Jota, in short: no.

    Who doesn’t carry a phone anyway? I have a nearly 2 year old HTC desire which I got free on a £20 contract. You can subtract the price of the car satnav I haven’t bought because my phone does that too.


    If you arent into HRM and Cadence dont bother with an edge. Get a Garmin Etrex or similar.

    I think the Etrex 30 can take a HRM too. The lower models can’t. The Etrex isn’t a serious training tool like the Edge, but great for navigation and logging, and it has all your basic functions still, speed, max, average, etc.


    Who doesn’t carry a phone anyway?

    The OP by the sound of it
    I’ve just bought my first one previously relying on a work phone
    A £20 contract is far from free if you don’t need to spend it in the first place

    Doesn’t everyone have a car with integrated satnav these day? 😉


    A £20 contract is far from free if you don’t need to spend it in the first place

    Yes, I pay about £20 a year on credit for my phone.

    And sat nav in the car?? That’s some space age shizz – I just look at the road signs… 😕 Besides, I know my way to work quite well now.

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