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  1. #1
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    MotionX iPhone app vs Garmin 705

    I went on a ride couple days ago and used the .99 cent MotionX iPhone app as my GPS based cyclometer and my friend used his Garmin 705.

    Honestly I can't tell the difference. Our data was almost exactly the same. And my elevation numbers actually seemed better.

    Love that the maps are 100 times clearer on the iPhone. The app let's you pick from MitionX maps, Bing Maps, and Goigle maps. Also displays satellite and terrain maps. Only draw back us that it won't do turn by turn directions. But who cares. Phone has google maps for that.

    You can even upload you map data to the web.

    I don't have a handle bar mount yet, so it just ride in my seat bag and I used my cateye for general speed numbers.

    Anyone else do this?

    Why spend $300-400 on an expensive Garmin? (yes weather proofing is an issue).

  2. #2
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    ANT+ (without a silly case or dongle), battery life. My iPhone tracked horribly, but I'll give it another try. I really, really want a phone solution that works, but I'm still skeptical.
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

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    Garmin does turn-by-turn navigation and the screen is always on so you can see it. How long will your iphone's battery last if you leave the screen on all the time?

  4. #4
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    I take it that MotionX is dependent upon the wireless carriers signal, which means that it's not so great, in my case. AT&T is, uh, not so hot around here. On my ride around the park, today, MotionX shorted me about 2 miles over a 43 mile ride. Part of the problem is the network/signal strength - about a half-dozen times (that I noticed) the nice narrator lady notified me that the phone had lost the GPS connection. Looking at the mapped ride on my computer, it has me taking a few improbable shortcuts through the park - I'm assuming that this just a straight line connecting the dots from when the signal was lost to when the signal was regained. I'll have to dig a little, but does anyone know off-hand if there's some ride correction that you can perform?
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

  5. #5
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    Oh, also looks like it did a number on the battery - 100% when I left, 25% when I got home, less than 2.5 hours later.
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
    Part of the problem is the network/signal strength - about a half-dozen times (that I noticed) the nice narrator lady notified me that the phone had lost the GPS connection.
    Losing GPS signal is not a problem with your carrier. That is a problem with the GPS antenna in your phone. Some antennas are much better than others at picking up a signal through the trees or indoors.

  7. #7
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    Can your iPhone monitor HR and cadence?

    Aside from that my phone wouldn't last with the screen on for a 5 hour ride. I also don't feel comfortable mounting my $500 phone to my handlebars. I have looked - very hard - for a handlebar mount for my phone but there just isn't a solution that I love. They either require zip ties or rubber bands to ensure it won't pop off if I go over a pot hole or it's in a sealed case making it difficult to operate the touch screen and connect headphones to it.

    Ultimately though it comes down to battery life. I don't think my phone is as accurate as my Garmin and to top it all off I don't think there is a better data analysis solution than Garmin Connect.

  8. #8
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    Losing GPS signal is not a problem with your carrier. That is a problem with the GPS antenna in your phone. Some antennas are much better than others at picking up a signal through the trees or indoors.
    Really? How many phones have real-deal GPS? I was under the impression that most used determined location through signal triangulation.
    Quote Originally Posted by twobadfish View Post
    Can your iPhone monitor HR and cadence?

    Aside from that my phone wouldn't last with the screen on for a 5 hour ride. I also don't feel comfortable mounting my $500 phone to my handlebars. I have looked - very hard - for a handlebar mount for my phone but there just isn't a solution that I love. They either require zip ties or rubber bands to ensure it won't pop off if I go over a pot hole or it's in a sealed case making it difficult to operate the touch screen and connect headphones to it.

    Ultimately though it comes down to battery life. I don't think my phone is as accurate as my Garmin and to top it all off I don't think there is a better data analysis solution than Garmin Connect.
    Can't do cadence and HR natively, that I'm aware of. There are ANT+ dongles and cases that you can purchase, but I'm not so fond of the idea for the reasons that you mention. One solution that does look interesting to me is the Xperia phones from Sony Ericsson. ANT+ is enabled out of the box and they have a... small remote display that's available. Phone can stay in the jersey, display can be worn as a watch or clipped on. I would imagine that battery life would be far better with the small display, but I haven't heard from anyone in the real world...
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

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    Well... the iPhone DOES have an actual GPS in it (it can use cell tower triangulation as backup but it also has a true GPS chip in there, as do most modern smart phones)). Actually it uses data transmission to speed up acquiring the GPS location.

    Yes, handle bar mount isn't ideal, but as I said, I just used my cateye to monitor speed. The iphone MotionX is there to pick up all the data and maps and save it online.

    Yes, the iPhone does cadence and HR if you get external hardware - but I don't really care about either of those as I'm just a recreational cyclists - just enjoy being out on a ride, not trying to win any awards.

    Yes, the battery life is an issue - but who cares -just charge it when you get home.

    You can download maps into cache, so incase you lose signal you still have a map - Though, I think tracking still works with or without a data signal - as it is just recording the GPS information.

    So.. sounds like yes, it's not an actual 705 - but for 99 cents (considering you have the existing hardware) it's a pretty darn close 2nd place.

    Going out again tomorrow and will compare again with my buddies 705.

  10. #10
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    It sounds like you've made a lot of concessions. And it sounds like you have two devices - a computer and phone to gather GPS data.

    I used a setup similar to this before I got a real GPS. And it's cool to have as a solution until you can afford a proper GPS but really it's not close to as practical as a Garmin Edge or similar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ben8jam View Post
    Yes, the battery life is an issue - but who cares -just charge it when you get home.
    Who cares? The guy says he burned 75% of his battery on a short ride. What happens on a long ride? And especially what happens if you need to make an emergency call on a long ride. You can't just pop a spare battery into an iphone (like you can with most other brands of phones).

  12. #12
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    Since you love your iPhone so much; the real comparison should have been with a Garmin Edge 800 with color and a touch screen.

  13. #13
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    Man so much animosity on this forum. I'm not hating on the Garmin people. Just thought the 99 cent iPhone app was cool comparison to the Garmin and was wondering if others used it. Sure if I had the money I'd much rather have a dedicated solution. I'm sorry I brought it up. Sheesh.

  14. #14
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben8jam View Post
    Man so much animosity on this forum. I'm not hating on the Garmin people. Just thought the 99 cent iPhone app was cool comparison to the Garmin and was wondering if others used it. Sure if I had the money I'd much rather have a dedicated solution. I'm sorry I brought it up. Sheesh.
    Um, you DID ask why people bother with Garmins, now you have a problem with people noting the shortcomings of the iPhone solution?
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

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    No problem with the shortcomings... Thanks.

  16. #16
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    But there really isn't any comparison between the two. A phone as a cycling computer is a cheap interim solution. But for a long term solution, and especially for long rides, it's really not that practical. No animosity there. Just honest analysis.

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    My wife has an iPhone 4. It is crap compared to my Samsung Focus Windows 7 phone.

  18. #18
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    I didn't have to sign a contract when I bought my Garmin Edge 800. It was also compatible with the heart rate strap and speed/cadence sensor that I already owned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twobadfish View Post
    But there really isn't any comparison between the two. A phone as a cycling computer is a cheap interim solution. But for a long term solution, and especially for long rides, it's really not that practical. No animosity there. Just honest analysis.
    Don't knock what you haven't tried. Burning 75% in 2.5 hours would be with the map on. Turn the map off and you can go all day. Or, buy a $30 battery backup and leave the map on for long rides. Or use a generator hub, which many of us have.

    As far as the software, there are many different choices. The bike-specific ones tend not to have maps, though MotionX allows you to pre-cache entire swathes of map, as one poster noted above.

    For me, the iphone is the long-term solution, and cost is not a factor. The flexibility, the variety of different apps, the pace at which they are being improved, all leave garmin in the dust. On the other hand, I no longer use cadence or heart rate.

    Different strokes.

  20. #20
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    went on a short 25 mile ride today (15mph winds, and I'm out of shape) - so it's wasn't the greatest of days, but the motionX software worked great - it autopauses when you stop and kept good data - no, it's not a garmin. and no it's not mounted (in my underseat bag) and no to a lot of other things- but for those of us with iPhone already (or any smart phone that supports the software, i don't want this to turn further into a phone bashing thread) i think it's a great solution for those not being able to afford a dedicated GPS system. i found a really great mounting solution - but it's $65 (Weather proof, etc) but that's too pricey- the cheap ones do look a little rikity...

    that's all.

    here's the google map it generates.. it's cool that you can take photos along the way and it plots them on the map. can your Garmin edge do that? huh huh can it? (kidding...)

    http://bit.ly/gN0E6z

  21. #21
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Though very cool to be able to track your rides, I will tell you my iPhone story. I went on a 40 mile ride using iPhone tracking software. 30 miles in and in a fairly remote area, the heat of the day got to me and I found myself without water and starting to "bonk" - I reached for my phone to call for backup (my wife) and the phone was dead - battery drained from the tracking software. I manged to hobble to a gas station some five miles away and called my wife to pick me up. The point is, the iPhone software is cool for rides that are more local, but it is too battery hungry for serious rides.

    I have since saved my pennies and picked up a Garmin 705 - I love it. 12+ hours battery life and constant feedback on everything from mph to hill gradient. I rode the Seattle to Portland, 200 mile ride last summer and the Garmin was a huge help in my success. I was able to track and control my heartrate over two 12 hour ride days.....

    Here is the first day ride report:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/41109117

    P.S. Cool bike - I have its twin sister..
    Last edited by magohn; 04-03-11 at 11:06 PM.

  22. #22
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by northerntier View Post
    Don't knock what you haven't tried. Burning 75% in 2.5 hours would be with the map on. Turn the map off and you can go all day. Or, buy a $30 battery backup and leave the map on for long rides. Or use a generator hub, which many of us have.

    As far as the software, there are many different choices. The bike-specific ones tend not to have maps, though MotionX allows you to pre-cache entire swathes of map, as one poster noted above.

    For me, the iphone is the long-term solution, and cost is not a factor. The flexibility, the variety of different apps, the pace at which they are being improved, all leave garmin in the dust. On the other hand, I no longer use cadence or heart rate.

    Different strokes.
    I already mentioned that I have used this solution before I got my Garmin. I also said it worked fine as an interim solution.

    I'm not really sure what you mean by flexibility though.

  23. #23
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    Here is the problem. A phone is a phone is a phone. A dedicated GPS unit uses less juice and does everything the phone does and more in regards to to GPS. If you kill the battery in the GPS unit you can still use your phone to call for help. Think about it the other way around. I did the iphone and android thing and my edge 500 kicks their butts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjvcycler View Post
    Here is the problem. A phone is a phone is a phone.
    A phone is not much of a phone when set to airplane mode. No calls, no msgs, no mail, no data, but GPS is still available. With GPS on, and navigating with a self contained data base providing visual and audible turn instructions, it becomes a guiding/mapping tool that far exceeds the map display capability of even the lofty Garmin 800.

    Phones still come up short on collecting performance data. Most don't work with ANT+ sensing yet, and Bluetooth sensing may not ever be the right interface for cadence and power, only speed and heart rate.

    But when used in airplane mode for navigation (using an app such as OsmAnd) and backed up with a wireless bike computer like Sigma Rox 9.0, an Android phone will give you six good hours of riding new routes in unfamiliar lands, lots of data to examine and share from both devices, plus emergency calling out when necessary. Not a bad cheap substitute for a Garmin device, plus some added capability.

    edit: I say cheap since smartphones are being given away these days by some providers.
    Last edited by sierrabob; 04-05-11 at 08:20 PM.

  25. #25
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    Sierrabob - that was exactly my point - no, it's not as ride perfect as a garmin - but if you've already invested in a phone (which you will use a lot more then a dedicated gps cyclometer) the MotionX app (for .99 cents) or other data collection app, is a really great neat second place -

    unfortunately, the iPhone in airplane mode disables the GPS chipset too... with no way for the software to override - so while that was a good idea, it's not doable. though, i don't use it for anything other then data collection- my little Cateye on my bars is all i need (tend to not need turn by turn directions since it's hard to get lost in my area (all farmlands)

    does the Android gps chip still work in Airplane mode?

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