Phone vs GPS device for navigation

  • Hi,

    I am sort of new to the world of motorcycle navigation solutions. I started using one only last year after I purchased a Garmin Zumo 595lm. The provided mapping software is such a disgrace and led me to myroute app.

    I have been using MyRoute-app for planning and I am very satisfied. But how about navigation?

    The benefit of using a GPS on my eyes, is having a dedicated device with a proper mount, charge feed and weather protection. It simply works. Well sometimes it does not turn on or crashes but that’s a different point. The downsides are that I can not pass it routes on the go (needs a laptop for f$&k sake) and only navigates tracks (routes with only shapepoints and no recomputation is basically a track).

    I have only tried the navigation app from myroute on short weekend rides. I only have an iPhone 8 and I bought the first Ram Mount I found to hold it. The app was rather great. However, the screen is not as big as the gps, the battery was drained after 4 hours having the track recoding option on and the weather was dry. I have no idea if it would have survived a riding day in the rain, let alone a week.

    So here it is. What are you using? If it is a phone, which brand and how you mount it? Do you have a dedicated ride phone?

    Thanks and may we all ride soon again!

  • @Georgios


    I am using a TomTom rider 400, and before that a TomTom Rider II, and before that a Garmin etrex.

    I plan all my traveling quite thoroughly at home with MRA (and before that Tyre), on a pc with two 23 inch screens (bit of a computer freak you see). That includes places to visit, hotels or bread and breakfast ... During a holiday I usually don't want to ponder over route changes, or alternatives and ... hence I almost never have the need to change a route. The only thing that regularly happens is that we spend too much time on one or another visit and then skip the last part of the track for a direct route to the hotel.

    I completely follow your thoughts about smartphones on a bike. In a car; yes, on a motorcycle; I fear that those tender things will break quite fast but there are other people here who seem very happy using their phone.

    It would become completely different if I could replace the TomTom with a rugged tablet. Bigger screen, android, and all tablet functions next to a GPS would avoid having to take an extra tablet travelling that is now needed to keep contact with the home front. Someone on this site has put such a thing on his BMW and seems very happy with it.

    For your case, you already have a Zumo, and you can prepare your routes with MRA. I think that this is more or less a perfect combination. I would keep the iphone in the pocket and only use it when the Zumo would unexpectedly die on me.

    I hope this helps


  • Hi @Drabslab,

    Of course it helps! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I do not think that a universally “correct” solution exists. It is more of a “what works best for you” type of question. Every input counts. Yours, was complete, coherent and factual. Greatly appreciated!

    My current gripe with my gps unit is that suddenly, it will not turn on. I have taken the issue with the company and I am confident that it will get resolved. Regardless, I need a plan b in case of failures while traveling.

    I had never thought of the rugged tablet option. I was not even aware it existed as an option.

    Any specific make / model in mind?

  • @Georgios


    I have been thinking of such rugged tablet for quite some time, but as I am busy with too many projects already, I never actually did anything serious about it.

    If you want to read up on something realistic of somone here on the forum: read this:

    I would see a "rugged tablet - MRA - navigation" package as a potential new option for using MRA but it may not be the easiest thing to do. It would, due to its larger screen size, however permit a fancy user interface bringign addtional user prepared messages on the screen during a ride etc... Of course, it can't be the intention to read a novel while driving 😂

  • @Drabslab sh!t,

    I just notice the link I gacve is in dutch and I don't know if you understand our local slang?🤞

    Anyway, he is using a Samsung Tab Active Pro 2

  • @Drabslab


    that was a great link. I am not able to parse your local parlance. Thankfully there is an app for that 🙂

    Now I know more. I am riding a big adventure bike (KTM 1290 SAS) yet I am still wondering if I would have the real estate for such a big screen. I think this evening I should borrow my lady's tablet and try some placements.

  • @Georgios I have a similar horse:

    Great minds ....

    You are a brave man, usually when I borrow something from THE lady, it ends up broken and then ....

  • administrator

    @Georgios Hi Georgios, I personally use the Navigation app as a backup navigation tool since my car has a built-in GPS device that indeed has a big screen. Once we're able to develop for Apple Carplay and Android Car I'll probably activate Carplay and download Navigation in my car. (fun fact, we've re-applied AGAIN with apple. Hopefully, this time they'll respond).

    When we do riding tests (for example this one with an absoutely bomb photo of me and Daniël (the lead developer) at the end of the track) we use several (up to 8 running simultaneously) devices all mounted in a bracket in the back of Michel's Jag. As for battery usage the phones by CAT hold out pretty well, although older models may run the navigation app a bit slow.

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