Technology evolves so quickly: It seems like just yesterday, hunters were only beginning to utilize global positioning system (GPS) units as tools for the hunt. Now, hunters have access to powerful hand-held GPS units, as well as smartphones with mapping apps and countless other tools.
But which handheld device – a GPS or a cell phone – is better for hunters?
Reliability. Hand-held GPS devices are made for locking on to satellites, and they’re reliable in doing so on a consistent basis in most instances, unless your battery is low or you’re under a thick canopy.
Smartphones, on the other hand, may not be able to pick up a cell signal – especially in remote areas where cell phone towers are scarce. An option for circumventing this issue exists, however: Offline maps are available for download prior to a hunting trip through some apps, including Bass Pro Shops MyGuide: HUNT.
Cost. The cost for a great GPS unit ranges from around $100 all the way up to several hundreds of dollars. In addition for the cost of the unit, the user will also have to pay for map updates every so often.
Smartphones can be cheaper to purchase than a GPS unit (and sometimes even free), depending on whether you’re signing a contract with a cell phone provider and depending on which device you choose. In addition to the expense of the phone, however, consumers must also consider how much it will cost for a monthly service plan with data.
Powering the Device. Powering a hand-held GPS device is convenient; they typically run on AA batteries, which can easily be swapped out for new ones once their juice runs out. This is particularly helpful if a person will not have access to power for days on end – simply pop out the old batteries and put in new ones.
Smartphones run on rechargeable batteries. Some models have removable batteries that can be swapped out for a spare when power runs down. Some models, however, do not have removable batteries and require a charge.
When it comes to cell phone vs. GPS, the bottom line: The device that’s “better” depends on how you’ll be using the tool and personal preferences. Weigh the positives and benefits of each device before deciding on the one that is the best fit for you.