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+3 votes
Is is necessary to have A smart phone and a GPS to geocache successfully?
in Support and help by amber1997 (800 points)

10 Answers

+4 votes
No. You can either use a gps-enabled smartphone or a "genuine" GPS-Device.

It is up to you, what you prefer.
by NoobNader (Expert) (15.9k points)
+4 votes
A "genuine" GPS device is usually a bit more exact, especially at poor conditions like in a forest or in narrow streets with high buildings. But you always have to "prepare" it (put a pocket query on it). Some GPS devices can display the listing. If it cannot does this, you have very little information about the cache (unless you have printed the listing beforhand). And what do you do, if your pocket query is 3 days old and the cache you are looking for has been disabled yesterday?

With a smart phone with mobile internet connection you are more flexible. You can just look for a cache in your surrounding and download the full listing and the latest logs wherever you are. So the data is more up-to-date. But you may have to search in a larger area, since the GPS reception of most smartphones is not that exact as the reception of GPS devices (although it has become a lot better).
by tadaima (12.5k points)
In my experience the GPS in my Galaxy Note 3 is at least as accurate as the one in my Garmin Oregon 450. Sometimes it is even better.. May be a result of the age of both devices, but i dont think, i will ever buy a new "genuine" GPSr. I surely will buy a new smartphone in the (not so) near future..
+4 votes
My experience is that in urban environment a smartphone can be more accurate than a GPSr (localization is assisted by Wifi and compensate bouncing GPS signal on the buildings walls) while in deep forest cover a GPSr can be more accurate. On the other hand, a smartphone more fragile than a GPSr (rain, fall to the ground or in the water, impact against a rock...) but you have internet access when mobile data is available.

So it really depends on your geocaching style and circumstances.

Finally, if you plan to hide a cache, the waypoint averaging function is a must.
by p0cy (600 points)
+3 votes

no, was my beginning of the game, I had no GPS or phone, I printed my pages and I went to the adventure, and I followed friends who had !!!

by Chup'a (11.2k points)
+3 votes
It isn't necessary to have both devices, but as a team of two, we sometimes find it helps to have one of each! We have a Garmin 600 and also use the older App on an iPhone. One very useful feature on the phone (which doesn't appear on the Garmin) is a satellite view of the cache location, and we have found that having this can often make the difference between a find or a DNF, especially if the signals are bouncing around.
by GCZ Team (22.0k points)
This sounds a brilliant tip. We only have the basic model of Garmn...and have found it very useful...but no phone as yet. It may then be worth the investment..thanks for your help.
0 votes
GPS and the phone has its advantages and disadvantages.  GPS and the phone combination is the best.
by rendystod (1.5k points)
0 votes
Both have their advantages.

That being said I have found all my caches with a smartphone. Nice to have a multitude of other features on the smartphone app. I use geosphere for iOS.
by ChrisDen (4.1k points)
0 votes
For Android i would recommend the App c:geo.

You can load pocket queries or gpx files into it and use (offline) maps.
by NoobNader (Expert) (15.9k points)
I also use the app Send to c:geo caches for storing the desktop map to c:geo. Luxury app, I recommend
0 votes
I only use ASUS ZenFone Max ZC550KL and c: geo. Mobil has a fast and precise (GPS + Glonass).
by mirek454 (620 points)
0 votes

(although this has nothing to do with Project-GC as such and is more about geocaching in general, I'll bite)

Technically, you don't need either. If you register an account with for instance, you will get access to descriptions and coordinates of caches, including a map that shows you where on the map they are. If you then print out the map or have a very good memory (or have the option to bring any form of map with any form of marking on it with you), you technically have a shot at finding geocaches. It is, however, not my understanding that this is widespread practice amongst geocachers. In fact, I don't think I've ever met someone who have done this for more than a cache or two.

If you choose to get yourself a device (be it a smartphone or a dedicated GPS receiver), you will probably find yourself much more successful in finding geocaches and you will probably also find it a lot more convenient, as both app programmers and GPS receiver manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make it easier for their customers/users to geocache seamlessly.

There is a lot to be said about which device you should be getting if you choose to buy one. The main points are:

  1. Ease of use - does it do what you want easily, effortlessly and seamlessly ?
  2. Utility - can it do/will you use it for other things than just geocaching ?
  3. Price - considering the point above
  4. Battery time - also considering point 2
  5. Screen size - can you see what you need to see ?
  6. Ruggedness - will it stand up to the challenge of being brought on the trail ?

There are obvious differences between smartphones and dedicated GPS receivers. Most people I know have and use both, but for different occations. It ususally comes down to the fact that the tradeoffs on the above mentioned points are different for the two categories of devices and having a device from both categories allows you to get the best from both worlds.

I wish you good luck with your pending purchase and welcome to geocaching :)

by Funky_Boris (9.8k points)