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GPS computer without pairing to smartphone?

Old 10-20-21, 10:21 PM
  #1  
Brojangles
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GPS computer without pairing to smartphone?

Seeking some wisdom on this from those in the know. Every review Iíve watched mentions the need to pair with a smartphone, or requires an app download.

Any models available that can be set up and operated independently, and not tied to my phone?


Appreciate 👍👍
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Old 10-20-21, 10:48 PM
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I use a GPS bike computer and I don't own a smart phone.
Works just fine
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Old 10-21-21, 12:22 AM
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The Garmin Edges (and other Garmin models) can be paired to a smartphone but don’t need to.

That is, the Garmin Edges don’t need a smartphone to work at all.

To copy routes and to update maps/etc, you can use a computer. You can also upload recorded rides using a computer.

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-21-21 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 10-21-21, 03:47 AM
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What do you need it to do? If it's just to record some stats or nagivate to a given point then you can use most GPS units without pairing it to anything. If you need to load routes on or record stuff to Strava, then you'd need to connect it to a phone or PC.
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Old 10-21-21, 04:19 AM
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As @njkayaker said, the Garmin Edges don't need to be tied to a smart phone. The Bluetooth connection just gives you some nice to have extras. One I really appreciate is LiveTrack, which enables my wife to see where I am at any moment. In theory you can have crash detection as well, but I found that over sensitive. If you don't have a smartphone then you have to connect to a computer in order to download your rides - although I think the latest ones can do it over wifi. Since they have to be plugged in from time to time to recharge it isn't such a big deal.
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Old 10-21-21, 05:39 AM
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The Wahoo computers pair with a phone to facilitate set up. They do not need to be paired while riding, though you lose a couple of "features." However, IME, the Wahoo app uses very little phone battery power.
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Old 10-21-21, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
The Wahoo computers pair with a phone to facilitate set up. They do not need to be paired while riding, though you lose a couple of "features." However, IME, the Wahoo app uses very little phone battery power.
This is more accurate if you state "The Wahoo's REQUIRE a smartphone connection for initial setup".

And as note, in addition to assorted Garmin Edge's, that do not need a smartphone to operate, the Hammerhead Karoo 2 does not require a smartphone to operate.

Typically though, both the Edge's and the HH can benefit from having a phone connection. Certainly many functions on Garmins related to downloading routes to the device or uploading completed rides, are easier to manage with a smartphone connection.

Last edited by Steve B.; 10-21-21 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 10-21-21, 05:43 AM
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I now pair my Garmin for quick uploads of completed rides and for text or phone number notifications while riding.

But I still load routes into it by plugging it in via USB on my PC. That works fine. No phone is needed for uploading routes, copying completed ride recordings to my PC (and then I could upload those recording files to rwgps or strava), or installing updates. When plugged in, the Garmin appears as a USB drive -- just copy files to or from the correct folders.

Last edited by rm -rf; 10-21-21 at 05:47 AM.
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Old 10-21-21, 09:30 AM
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I use my garmin 1030 plus gps all the time without my smartphone. can type in an address; pick a spot on the map; saved location. like you park your car in Yosemite and want to get back to it etc...

I use my smart phone to load strava routes if I am doing a pre planned route. There might be able to load strava route without a phone. Never looked into that though.
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Old 10-21-21, 09:40 AM
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Karoo Hammerhead with sim card
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Old 10-21-21, 09:47 AM
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I always had trouble connecting my garmin 830 to my phone. It's fairly simple to do, but tedious. Then I noticed that my rides were being automatically uploaded. I thought they had fixed the problems with connecting to my phone, but it turns out it's doing it via wifi. I have to say that the functionality added by the phone connection are pretty nice. I remember scrambling to find a computer when I was on a trip and needed to upload a route. Those days are over, just use my phone.

tl;dr: I don't use my phone to talk to the garmin unless I'm travelling. On a day to day basis, there is no need.

Next time I need to load something on my 830, I'm going to try wifi and garmin connect.
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Old 10-21-21, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I

Next time I need to load something on my 830, I'm going to try wifi and garmin connect.
There are a few iQ apps for the 830 that allow access via a smartphone BT connection and cell data. RWGPS is one that allows access to most of the RWGPS routes you've created, RouteCourse is another. Easy then do download a navigable route, no PC connection needed.
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Old 10-21-21, 12:59 PM
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Thanks much for the user input, y’all — big help. 👍👍

I’ll go back and take a deeper dive on the models mentioned. The more ‘stand alone’ capability the better, so to speak. I don’t mind hotspotting my phone occasionally for wifi or bluetooth, but required for setup and use is a no-go for me.

Will be doing multi-day trips between fishing holes/camping and such (lots of rural and remote areas, cell signal sketchy). Both road and trails. Of course, I’d like as many features as possible, i.e. color screen, map display, etc., but I’ll take what I can get if it’s solid gear.
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Old 10-21-21, 01:20 PM
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Old brytons, like the Rider 530/330 didn't need a smartphone. They were decent and had long battery life (great for 200-400k rides). Newer ones, however, need a smart phone app to configure the menus.
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Old 10-21-21, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Brojangles View Post
Iíll go back and take a deeper dive on the models mentioned. The more Ďstand aloneí capability the better, so to speak. I donít mind hotspotting my phone occasionally for wifi or bluetooth, but required for setup and use is a no-go for me.
The Garmins don't need a smartphone for set-up at all. Keep in mind that setup is not being done regularly.

None of them (Garmins, Hammerhead Karoo, Wahoo) need a smartphone to use for navigation. They'll all work just fine with your smartphone turned off.

For cycling, people tend to load tracks/routes to follow. People tend to use various websites (ridewithgps, for example) to create these tracks/routes. The Garmins and the Karoo can calculate routes on the device but they might not always produce the best routes. The Garmins and the Wahoo let you use a wire to connect to another computer (a PC, tablet, or phone) to copy routes from. The Karoo, as far as I understand, doesn't yet let you do that,

Originally Posted by Brojangles View Post
Will be doing multi-day trips between fishing holes/camping and such (lots of rural and remote areas, cell signal sketchy). Both road and trails. Of course, Iíd like as many features as possible, i.e. color screen, map display, etc., but Iíll take what I can get if itís solid gear.
Some people prefer using a unit designed for hiking.
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Old 10-21-21, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Brojangles View Post
Thanks much for the user input, yíall ó big help. 👍👍

Iíll go back and take a deeper dive on the models mentioned. The more Ďstand aloneí capability the better, so to speak. I donít mind hotspotting my phone occasionally for wifi or bluetooth, but required for setup and use is a no-go for me.

Will be doing multi-day trips between fishing holes/camping and such (lots of rural and remote areas, cell signal sketchy). Both road and trails. Of course, Iíd like as many features as possible, i.e. color screen, map display, etc., but Iíll take what I can get if itís solid gear.
I'd bring my etrex if I were doing a trip like that. You need a computer to set it up initially, but once you load everything on the card you are good-to-go. I also don't really understand the aversion to connecting to the phone for initial set-up like with the wahoos, unless you don't have a phone, which it sounds like you do. Once it's set up you don't ever need to connect it to the phone again.
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Old 10-21-21, 09:19 PM
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Lezyne had a couple of models with GPS navigation aids but no phone connectivity. The user would sync to the PC later via USB cable. I don't recall the models but they're probably still on the website or archives and for sale somewhere online.

If you're concerned about privacy the Cyclemeter app by Abvio promises any data recorded using their app is stored only on the user's phone unless/until the user decides to share it online. Which means the user needs to be more careful about archiving data. Abvio warns against actions such as deleting and reinstalling the app because all user data might be lost. However you can still archive the data to your home computer, personal storage or your own private locked cloud account.
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Old 10-21-21, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I also don't really understand the aversion to connecting to the phone for initial set-up like with the wahoos
My beef with things like this, is that it is a form of "online hardware activation", which is a concept that I am against in principle. I understand that for certain devices there needs to be activation especially when there is a related law or mandate (drones, in particular), but as a general thing - I say no to hardware activation. If I bought a piece of hardware from the store (whether that be a cycling computer, an action camera, a tv, a toaster, or whatever), I expect it to be usable without needing to connect to the Internet to "activate" it first.
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Old 10-22-21, 12:07 AM
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Never owned a smart phone. Garmin works great. I sync/update firmware with usb on my computer at home. Unless you have to have live tracking, I see no need. Otherwise just use your smartphone and don't bother with a dedicated unit.

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Old 10-22-21, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
My beef with things like this, is that it is a form of "online hardware activation", which is a concept that I am against in principle. I understand that for certain devices there needs to be activation especially when there is a related law or mandate (drones, in particular), but as a general thing - I say no to hardware activation. If I bought a piece of hardware from the store (whether that be a cycling computer, an action camera, a tv, a toaster, or whatever), I expect it to be usable without needing to connect to the Internet to "activate" it first.
I donít recall too many items needing a specific Ďhardware activationí as you put it.
Is that the same or similar to a software update?
Those I expect when I buy certain products.
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Old 10-22-21, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
I don’t recall too many items needing a specific ‘hardware activation’ as you put it.
Most (all?) DJI products have it - their drones, gimbals, action cameras. The drones I understand, there are laws requiring a drone be registered to the owner, when and where they can be flown, etc but the others, activation doesn't make sense. If you buy their Osmo Action camera from a store, you can't just insert a fresh battery and memory card and start using it. It will not function unless you activate it online using a smartphone.
The Favero Assioma power meter pedals - likewise, you can't use them without first activating them using a smartphone.

That's what I can remember at the top of my head, and hopefully this list remains this way - small!

Is that the same or similar to a software update?
Not software update, but software activation - a form of DRM where you can't use the software (or it remains locked in a limited/crippled trial mode) unless you activate it via the Internet.
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Old 10-22-21, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
My beef with things like this, is that it is a form of "online hardware activation", which is a concept that I am against in principle. I understand that for certain devices there needs to be activation especially when there is a related law or mandate (drones, in particular), but as a general thing - I say no to hardware activation. If I bought a piece of hardware from the store (whether that be a cycling computer, an action camera, a tv, a toaster, or whatever), I expect it to be usable without needing to connect to the Internet to "activate" it first.
I don't have an opinion on drones or cameras or whatever, but let's use the wahoo element bolt as an example, because I have one, I'm familiar with it, and this is a cycling forum not a general electronics forum. You have to pair the bolt with your phone to connect it to the internet the first time and to set up the pages and metrics you want to see on each page. Both of those things would be super clunky if you had to do it with the arrow buttons on the unit, and the thing wouldn't work at all if it couldn't connect to wifi. It's just much easier to do that with my phone than to have to connect it to the laptop every time I want to connect to a new hotspot or modify a page view. I have been at the start of a brevet, realized that I loaded the wrong route, connected to my phone and loaded the right one in under 5 minutes. I would have been screwed with an etrex in that situation. I'm all for privacy and everything, but I still don't get it with a gps headunit that essentially can't function the way they are intended without being connected to the internet.
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Old 10-22-21, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
My beef with things like this, is that it is a form of "online hardware activation", which is a concept that I am against in principle. I understand that for certain devices there needs to be activation especially when there is a related law or mandate (drones, in particular), but as a general thing - I say no to hardware activation. If I bought a piece of hardware from the store (whether that be a cycling computer, an action camera, a tv, a toaster, or whatever), I expect it to be usable without needing to connect to the Internet to "activate" it first.
​​​​​​You are kinda in the weeds here (and not really being helpful).

The Garmins don't need to connect to the internet to "activate" them. But you do need to connect to the internet to get updates for firmware or maps.

So, whether or not you like it (a thing not many people care about), if one wants to use these sorts of devices (which are more complicated than toasters), one will likely have to live with registering the device.

Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
Most (all?) DJI products have it - their drones, gimbals, action cameras. The drones I understand, there are laws requiring a drone be registered to the owner, when and where they can be flown, etc but the others, activation doesn't make sense. If you buy their Osmo Action camera from a store, you can't just insert a fresh battery and memory card and start using it. It will not function unless you activate it online using a smartphone.
The Favero Assioma power meter pedals - likewise, you can't use them without first activating them using a smartphone.

That's what I can remember at the top of my head, and hopefully this list remains this way - small!

Not software update, but software activation - a form of DRM where you can't use the software (or it remains locked in a limited/crippled trial mode) unless you activate it via the Internet.
Apparently, given that you don't mention GPS units at all, you know nothing about them.

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-22-21 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 10-22-21, 06:59 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Brojangles View Post
Seeking some wisdom on this from those in the know. Every review Iíve watched mentions the need to pair with a smartphone, or requires an app download.

Any models available that can be set up and operated independently, and not tied to my phone?


Appreciate 👍👍
You really should also be clear about why. You'll tend to get better answers.

It seems you want the device to be able to function in places without a cell network. Keep in mind that needing a phone and needing a network in addition to the phone are two things.

There is no GPS unit that requires being connected to a phone (or a network) for normal usage.

How to get routes is another issue. The Garmins and Wahoos can use phones as a bridge to the internet to get routes but you can also use a wire and copy route files from a computer (a PC, tablet, or phone). This is likely the case for other manufacturers (like Lyzene, Bryton, etc). The Karoo (it looks like) can only get routes from the internet (at the moment). The Karoo can use a sim card, which lets it connect to a cell network directly

​​​​​
Some devices (Wahoo) use a phone to configure the device. But that shouldn't need internet access and it's not something you'd need to do regularly.
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Old 10-22-21, 07:09 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
​​​​​​You are kinda in the weeds here (and not really being helpful).

The Garmins don't need to connect to the internet to "activate" them. But you do need to connect to the internet to get updates for firmware or maps.

So, whether or not you like it (a thing not many people care about), if one wants to use these sorts of devices (which are more complicated than toasters), one will likely have to live with registering the device.

Apparently, given that you don't mention GPS units at all, you know nothing about them.
1. My response was to that specific quote from @kingston, not sure how you thought I was talking about Garmins or about getting updates and firmwares and maps.
2. Activation != registration.
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