5 Reasons to Buy a Car GPS in the Age of Smartphones

Your smartphone can run a variety of navigation apps, which may make a car GPS seem like a redundant gadget. But smartphones are not yet ready to replace the navigation GPS. Here are five reasons to buy a dedicated navigation GPS.

1. Battery. GPS apps use a tremendous amount of battery power, which means your phone might not even make it all the way through the day if you're doing a lot of navigating. A dedicated car GPS uses your car's cigarette lighter outlet for power, so battery will never be an issue. Plus, the best navigation GPS units have a built-in battery that lasts for a couple of hours, in case all the charging ports in your car are in use. Preserving battery power is a big deal for heavy smartphone users, and a dedicated car GPS can help keep your phone's battery fresh.

2. Data. Smartphone GPS apps use a lot of data, which is a drawback for smartphone users. If you're using a navigation app every day, you could easily use up a large chunk of a 2GB or 3GB cellular data plan. You could even accidentally cause expensive overage charges. Dedicated navigation devices don't have a subscription fee, so you can navigate as much as you want for free. If you do a lot of driving, you might be purchasing more monthly cell data than you need in order to cover your GPS uses. In this case, a dedicated GPS might actually be cheaper than switching to a cell phone plan with more data.

3. Service. Navigation GPS units work in areas where there is no cell coverage. The GPS system is based on satellites, not cell phone towers, so GPS has more thorough coverage than cellular providers do, especially in rural areas where cell service is spotty. Smartphones have GPS chips in them that allow them to connect to the satellite system, but they don't have the maps of North America stored in them, so without cellular service, you can't get turn-by-turn directions.

4. Safety. It's unsafe to be looking at a smartphone while driving. Unless you buy a special mount that secures your smartphone to your windshield, mounted GPS units will always be safer to use. Additionally, there is no chance of a distracting text message popping up on your GPS. Also, navigation GPS units tend to have slightly larger screens than smartphones, so they're easier to read while you're driving.

5. Backup. Relying on a smartphone for navigation means that you are relying on cellular service for your maps. In an emergency, cellular service might be down. A navigation GPS has maps stored in its memory, so it's unaffected by any outages. Even if the GPS satellite system went down, you'd still be able to look at the maps on the device. This makes a navigation GPS much better suited for an emergency than a smartphone.

Because car GPS units are specialized, they are better at navigating than a smartphone. Yes, you can do basic navigation with a phone, but for all the aforementioned reasons, they simply can't compare to a dedicated unit. If you are a frequent driver, then a car GPS is an excellent investment.