Re: Yay landfill!
"Does anyone still use them? Phones have been able to do the job just as well for about 10 years now."
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On the contrary, phones still don't do the job nearly as well.
1. A phone plan with data will add enough to your costs to buy a new GPS every six months... while I typically replace them every five years - a 90% cost reduction.
2. Phone coverage is far from complete. A quick look at coverage maps for the three biggest national providers shows probably less than 10% coverage overall, definitely less than 20%. Long stretches of significant highways have no coverage at all for hundreds of kilometers.
3. In a major emergency, particularly one that is caused by or triggers a prolonged power failure, the cell networks will go down, as soon as the cell sites exhaust their batteries. I am not even sure that all of them have batteries, but I am sure that none will last past 24 hours. The 2003 power failure blacked out 55 million people for two days. Sooner or later a large solar flare will not miss, and a large chunk of the planetary electrical grid is almost certain to fail. A dedicated GPS, particularly one stored in a metal box, will survive. The satellites may well be sufficiently hardened. Millions of kilometers of power lines? The longer the line, the higher the induced energy. The Carrington event of 1859 gives some indication of the power of such coronal mass ejections, but mid 19th century telegraphs are several orders of magnitude tougher than semiconductor electronics, or a modern integrated electrical distribution net. Battery powered GPS units can function off AA alkaline cells, and as long as enough satellites survive (between GPS, GLONASS, Beidou-2 and Galileo, 'enough' may mean those in the shadow of the earth at the time of the peak of the event) it won't need anything else to work.
4. Using a cell phone as a GPS means reporting your position constantly to your phone network, the maker of the phone's OS, the navigation app authors, the authors of any other location aware app that is running, including browser resident scripts and sites, anyone who can access the stored location tracking data in the phone, and all their business partners and data customers,
5. The interface of a well designed automotive GPS is possibly the best interface from a functional and human engineering point of view that I have seen, for a relatively simple function.
6. A good automotive GPS is also extremely temperature tolerant, working well at temperatures from -35 to +45, and probably both colder and warmer than that, though I'd have to visit another part of the country to get below -35. I was quite pleased the first time I fired up my GPS in a -25 degree vehicle and had it light up and be ready to roll in five seconds. Ten years ago, the screen would probably not have functioned. I imagine some of the truck GPS systems will work down to -50 or so, but I really don't want to try that out. If you need to navigate in even colder weather, you're going to have to do a lot of planning, and not just about GPS navigation - I don't have a clue what you'd need to take into account, and you may be far enough north that things like aurora effects or high latitude may begin to challenge the technology, as well.
7. Hand held GPS units - the ones that usually take AA batteries - are almost all water resistant, rated to survive submersion to 1 metre for 30 minutes, if not having a higher rating (IIRC the next step is 2 metres for an hour). Extreme rain or dropping it in a puddle, or a stream you can wade, or the wet bottom of a boat is not an issue if you can get it out again. Not so much with cell phones.
8. If you need further flexibility and reliability there are several ways to charge NiMh AA batteries, some of them needing neither an electrical grid nor a vehicle power outlet. As a bonus, the same type of batteries can power your flashlight and your UHF/VHF transceiver.
Digression: Indeed, in emergency situations the co-ordination centres will have stacks of AA alkaline cells so you can arm up with spares when heading out... primarily for radios, but they'll do for the other uses as well. That's why, while you may run your radio on rechargeable packs most of the time, there should be a battery case that takes AA cells among your accessories. You need the radios because if it gets bad enough, both the cell and land phone nets will be down, as will many of the trunked radio systems that utilities and government agencies, including police, use, due to power exhaustion at the cell and repeater sites. At that point much of the remaining medium and long distance (anything farther than the reach of a site to site contact, or an untrunked repeater that has power) communication capacity will be military or amateur operators.