GPS Tracking Devices vs Smartphones

Tracking is safe. Sharing is caring. Tracking brings peace of mind. Tracking protects. Tracking prevents.

The reason we want to track people, pets, assets and vehicles are all very different. It differs from items we are tracking, the reasons we are tracking and the many different ways we are using to track people, vehicles, pets, etc. Today the most popular technical solutions are tracking by means of using a Smartphone or tracking using a specifically developed GPS tracking device.

The question.

Because smartphones consistently improve in functions and features, it has become an expected trend to see smartphones being used instead of other devices. For example, for most users their smartphone is also their digital camera, or alarm clock, or MP3 player, or diary. It is then just logical to ask why can my smartphone not replace a GPS tracking unit? Or otherwise, do I still need a GPS tracker when I have a smartphone.

Although this question is very much a personal preference and choice, we can provide some guidance and input that can be used to guide your thinking and ultimately your decision. To start this discussion, we first and foremost have to state that there are many, many different types of tracking and that different advantages can be stronger in some use-cases than in others.

Why use a Smartphone?

A smartphone is convenient, it is mostly with you and all extra functions and features are included and are for free. You might want to pay extra for a specific navigation and route map App. That is however optional and most smartphones can provide tracking information without additional costs.

Smartphones work well if you want the GPS location of yourself or the group of people you are with, or display the route information of your journey, or find the best direction forward. The built-in GPS modules provide accurate information and are mostly easy to use from an end-user perspective. 

Typically smartphones will also have some map app or route direction app that can help you to find your route to a destination, especially when travelling in a new city or even when you have city traffic and congestion to deal with.

Smartphones also provide an option to connect to the Internet and using that feature you can save your route information and different data directly in the cloud. This can make it easier to plan future travels and activities.

Why use a GPS tracker?

GPS trackers are specific electronic units that are developed to track and report location information. GPS trackers can include display screens with map software or the devices can be with no display and only log and report the location and route information.


This provides GPS trackers with the 1st key advantage which is to be able to solve different user requirements i.e. I can use a GPS tracker to track my dog, or a freight company can use it to track delivery trucks, or my mom can use it to make sure my little sister is safely back at home from school. From these examples, it is clear that GPS trackers offer a different set of advantages and are used mostly for a different reason often being from a security aspect or from a management and scheduling requirement.

Because GPS tracker units don’t really have display screens or user input keys etc the device battery can last for days and days. This makes it possible to track adventure sports athletes through difficult events, either to share in their journey and achievement or for safety and risk mitigation reasons. The long battery life advantage also makes it possible to track aged family members that might get lost due to weak health without having to charge the units.

GPS trackers are much more rugged and resilient against the environment than the average smartphone. GPS Trackers will not easily be damaged due to rain, or when dropped, or due to very high temperatures or any other rough handling that can be expected during enduro events.  GPS trackers used for enduro event tracking, or for vehicle tracking or pet tracking is extremely reliable and developed to support mission-critical scenarios.

When you want to ensure the safety of your kids, or the whereabouts of aged parents, or event tracking your pet, GPS trackers offer much less intrusive and discreet solution options. Some units can be worn as bracelets, or pendants, or belts clips. These units do not require any setting or selection from the user and is always ready to report accurate data.

Finally, is it what you need?

Smartphone or GPS tracker? As with many other aspects of life it gets down to the question of what do you want to do and what is most important to you. If you are travelling and need the shortest route to your destination your smartphone will work very well giving you some updated map information. it is always with you and very convenient.

It you want to support an adventure athlete, or give peace-of-mind to a family with aged parents, or need to protect valuable assets, a GPS tracking device will probably be the better options for you. To find out more about the JustTRAC tracking device, Contact Us.

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