Dark Blue Bar

Myth Busted: Smartphones Will Not Render GPS Units Obsolete

GPS in your smartphone is undeniably helpful for some things. For confirmation, just ask anyone about the last time they used a paper map.

While a phone might be fine for most of us to follow driving directions, there are several advantages of using a dedicated GPS unit for vehicle location purposes.

A stand-alone GPS system outperforms your smartphone GPS in terms of:

Theft Recovery

The first and most obvious point to make is that a GPS location device on your vehicle tracks the vehicle, while your phone’s GPS tracks the phone. Unless your phone is with your vehicle when it goes missing, it won’t be able to locate a stolen vehicle. With a GPS unit, you can determine the vehicle location instantly within a few feet. Whether you have an app that allows you to access this information directly or you work with a service that helps with location, early reporting is key to quick recovery.



Sometimes it can take hours, days, or more to discover a vehicle (or its driver) is missing. Don’t waste valuable time. When the vehicle is equipped with a GPS device, you can receive alerts when it exits a designated area. Examples include:


User Type

Geofenced Area

Dealers/fleet managers

Business lot


Parking garage


College campus

Powersports riders

Defined riding areas
Storage facility

Property managers

Community boundary

Proactive location management means quicker recovery and less chance of permanent loss or damage for any vehicle type.


Accuracy and Availability

Smartphone GPS systems use the GPS satellite system differently from dedicated GPS units. GPS devices communicate more quickly and frequently than phones, which are programmed to use triangulations from cell towers first, and then confirm the location with a slower GPS signal. While phones and apps can store offline maps for use when no cellular signal is available, most can’t provide step-by-step directions without service. You also won’t have estimated trip times, updated traffic information, or alternate route suggestions.


Durability and Reliability

Running GPS is a huge drain on a cell phone battery. If the battery dies, or the phone is turned off to conserve battery life, the phone can only be tracked as far as its last live location. Dedicated GPS location devices run on your vehicle power, but often have their own backup batteries.

Most dedicated units are installed in an inconspicuous location to make it harder to remove by thieves, and also send tamper notifications if someone finds and attempts to disable it. Installed GPS devices are also designed to stand up to weather, water, impact, and conditions and locations incompatible with your phone.


Vehicle Information

Vehicle GPS units can provide a wealth of information about the vehicle and the driver. For driver behavior, some phone apps might be fine for basic consumer use, like parental monitoring (assuming the tech-savvy child doesn’t find a way to circumvent the app). However, for powersports vehicles, speed and impact alerts are just as important, and the rider is less likely to have a phone on board.

For businesses or dealerships tracking multiple vehicles, it’s much more helpful to have a vehicle tracking system that can report more than individual driver activity. A GPS unit can report not only the basics, but also vehicle battery status, fuel consumption, mileage for maintenance reminders, saved and planned routes, and more.



It’s a fact that smartphones have made everything more convenient, including GPS location. But more convenient doesn’t necessarily mean better, especially when it could sacrifice safety or security. Know when basic functionality is enough, and consider when you need to go beyond basic for your vehicles and your drivers.


Related Posts