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Do you cache with an Internet enabled phone in your bag of tricks?
Cell phone? What's that?
 7%  [ 3 ]
Yes, we love being able to check on things in the field.
 51%  [ 20 ]
No, we just head out and hope for the best.
 41%  [ 16 ]
Total Votes : 39

Author Message
Team Deejay
WGA Member

Joined: 2005-10-02
Posts: 2401
Location: Rochester, WI, US

PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:43 am Reply with quote Back to top

Based on what was seen at the cache bash, I'd say that roughly 10% of geocachers do the "cell phone only" method. It is doable, but most phone GPS units adjust much more slowly than a dedicated GPS. As long as you are willing to go a little slow (and aren't out of cell phone coverage for the descriptions, etc.) a cell phone can work. Not what I do usually, but once in a while, I will just grab the phone and go.

Team DeeJay
Dave and Julie 
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WGA Member

Joined: 2011-02-22
Posts: 2506
Location: Ripon WI

PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:01 am Reply with quote Back to top

Just have a basic cell phone using TracFone. If I had a Smart Phone and a data plan, I might never get where I need to go.

So far, my experience with caches hidden using only a phone have not been accurate. Makes for very frustrating hunting. Would be fine if hider checks coords on a map app before submitting.

I plan for travel and miss some county additions when we deviate from the planned route but there's always another day. Just not as cost efficient.

MapQuest and Google maps really need to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure everyone knows how to get out of their own neighborhood. 
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Northwoods Tom
WGA Member

Joined: 2010-12-03
Posts: 664
Location: Washington Island

PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:06 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Chatauqua560 wrote:
So far, my experience with caches hidden using only a phone have not been accurate.

This for me has been the $100,000 question. I'm hearing how accurate the phones are and how inaccurate they are. I've noticed how poor coordinates are more recently and wonder if it's their GPS phone or poor coordinate creation by the cache placers. It may be a combination of any and all.

It takes some of the excitement and joy out of searching for a new cache when the coordinates take you to a place that you latter find out was way off. (A reason I often cache with two different GPS units is to confirm that my one unit isn't off. I also will check the satellite image which occasionally is unbelievable that a cache could be there.)
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Joined: 2009-06-05
Posts: 2564
Location: Menominee, MI

PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:06 pm Reply with quote Back to top


See my FTF logs from these two caches.

GC3Z3H0 GC4033E

Both of them were placed with IPhones.

I wish people would use an actual GPS receiver to place caches. But that's not always the case.

I posted coordinates for both caches using my GPSr. The CO updated the coords on one, but didn't update on the other.
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WGA Member

Joined: 2010-11-30
Posts: 1144
Location: Wauwatosa, WI

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:34 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I use a Garmin 650, a Garmin GPSmap62s, and an iPhone. I had 4 other "varmints" before those. I use the iPhone a LOT except in the woods. I have numerous observations that haven't yet been mentioned (I think).

1. Although a handheld GPSr is potentially more accurate than a smartphone (my favorite being the 62s), I have found that an iPhone is just as accurate if not in a wooded area. The trees throw off the reception on an iPhone and it's still doable but jumps around a bit more.
2. I would never hide a cache using a smartphone for the coordinates since it cannot perform "waypoint averaging" the way modern handheld GPSr's can.
3. Smartphones have some huge advantages over handhelds. One of the major advantages is the satellite view. If looking for a cache you could switch to satellite view and see (for example) that it is located in the 3rd tree from the driveway.
4. You can real ALL logs on a smartphone, not just the 5 most recent.
5. You can not only view the topo map, satellite view, and street map on smartphones, you can view many park trail maps that don't show up on a traditional street map. Most cachers that have iPhones probably aren't aware that they even have this feature. Just switch to the trail map and >poof< you can see the trail and how far off the trail the cache is located.
6. You can log your finds, DNF's, and notes in the field from your smartphone. I usually do this immediately if it's a FTF. More often I log a field note from my smartphone, which is immediately sent to with the correct time stamp, and I can log online when I get home and the field note is already uploaded for me.
7. You can view all of the photos in a cache's gallery from a smartphone; handy when you're stuck and looking for additional hints.
8. A smartphone can also be used as a flashlight, a camera, a calculator, a watch, and a bird or plant encyclopedia.
9. There are apps available for smartphones that decrypt many ciphers.
10. You can solve many stages of puzzles from the field using a smartphone with a data plan. A new one just came out this week near me in which some had to abort because they didn't have access to the info needed in the field. They need to go back with a friend that has a smartphone.
11. Smartphones need to have an active connection with a cell phone tower to receive the information. However, you can save targeted caches on your phone (logs, coordinates, maps, photos, the whole cache page) ahead of time in case you're in an area with bad cellular coverage. But then you have to plan ahead, like you would with a traditional old school GPSr. If you save the page ahead of time to your smartphone, the GPS chip will still work with GPS satellites even though there is no cell phone reception, and you won't have to rely on a cellular connection to see the map, etc. because you saved it to your phone.
12. You can view a trackable's mission and history from a smartphone if you encounter some in the field.
13. While in the field you can sort the nearby caches by distance from your current location, favorite points, title, GC code, or type.
14. If spontaneously hiding a cache you can see where all of the current caches are located, both found and unfound, in case there are proximity issues.
15. If searching for caches spontaneously you can filter out "found" caches without running a pocket query.
16. You always have the most recent maps and logs available without having to update anything, ever.
17. The display is bright high resolution with brilliant color, and is great for explaining geocaching to muggles and showing them how many caches are in an area.
18. This is repeating myself from point #1, but a smartphone IS accurate if power lines and trees aren't interfering, and when you consider the satellite map view it can be way more useful than the coordinates themselves.
19. It can be used for PAF situations.
20. Finally, and this has been mentioned by others before me, the most useful, best advantage of using a smartphone for caching: spontaneous caching. You could be anywhere: in another town, in another state, wherever, and on a whim you could see if there's a cache nearby. Or miles away. You can see what is near, and see the most recent logs, and navigate to the cache with the most recent maps, without having to update the unit or load any pocket queries.

Although I still prefer an old school handheld GPSr for caching, a smartphone, for me, compliments my Garmin and in many cases replaces it when out in the field.

I was told I get paid by the word; kindly submit payment to my account please and many thanks. Cool

Last edited by hack1of2 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:43 pm; edited 2 times in total 
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WGA Member

Joined: 2010-11-30
Posts: 1144
Location: Wauwatosa, WI

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:37 pm Reply with quote Back to top

As for cell phone providers & data plans, choose a provider that provides good coverage in your area. I have found that for the state of Wisconsin, AT&T is great in cities and poor in many rural areas, especially in northern WI. Verizon is great for coverage and speed almost anywhere you go and is usually my general recommendation.
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Joined: 2009-06-05
Posts: 2564
Location: Menominee, MI

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:41 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Just keep this in mind:

Drop a smartphone and it is likely damaged. Drop a "varmint" and it likely will survive.
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WGA Secretary
WGA Secretary

Joined: 2010-09-22
Posts: 3919
Location: Waukesha

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:39 am Reply with quote Back to top

I pay for the insurance for just that reason.

Not all who wander are lost, some are geocaching.

Disclaimer: This post and the contents of any links or images attached is the opinion of this poster and not that of the WGA or its Board of Directors. 
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WGA Member

Joined: 2002-04-02
Posts: 86
Location: Cameron WI

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:45 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I use my phone 95% of the time. I have a Galaxy S3 and found it to be very accurate whether in the open or under cover.

I use c:geo and will download a pocket query of the 1000 closest caches and then import them into c:geo. I do this about once a week or so. If I think there is a newer log that is necessary to read then I re-download that cache using c:geo.

I import the caches so I don't have to rely on data service which isn't that great when I get away from the main roads. About the only data I use is for logging caches and I don't even do that very often.

My wife uses a Garmin Etrex 20 and the phone is equally good to the GPS. Any waypoints we take are always done with the Etrex.

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Joined: 2009-06-05
Posts: 2564
Location: Menominee, MI

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:18 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Experimented with my Samsung Galaxy III today just to try it even though I also had my Varmint Etrex Venture HC with me.

My Varmint Nuvi died at a previous cache. I think it is bricked.

And I needed to be able to drive to the next one. So here is an excerpt from my log for that.

I remembered I also have both C:GEO and Google Maps on my phone. And both programs are linked together.

So I looked up the cache on C:GEO and used it to tell Google Maps to get me there. It led me right to the parking lot easily. I decided that since I still had C:GEO running on my phone, let's experiment with it to see how accurate it is compared to my Etrex Venture HC. To my surprise, it led me right to the cache.

Ok, I admit my Samsung Galaxy III did good in leading me to the cache.

BUT...I will not use it as a full time GPSr. For one thing, it is too fragile for caching. I drop it on the ground, it will break, even with the tough cover I have on it now. My Etrex, however, has survived several drops and even went into the mud once and still works.

Plus for a whole day of caching, the battery will die quicker than FTF's following publications in the Fox Valley Wink Whereas for a typical dedicated GPSr like the Etrex Venture, it can last me 10 to 14 hours on one full charge.

To sum it up, my phone with C:GEO and Google Maps is great to use in a pinch if I want to do some spontaneous geocaching. But when it comes to some serious geocaching, I'll always stick with my Etrex Venture HC and Nuvi.
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WGA Member

Joined: 2010-11-30
Posts: 1144
Location: Wauwatosa, WI

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:01 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Todd300 wrote:
... the battery will die quicker than FTF's following publications in the Fox Valley Wink

Laughing Laughing Laughing
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