Navigation apps on smartphones have become so commonplace that it may seem antiquated to even purchase a dedicated GPS device anymore. But you still see standalone GPS units for sale, which begs the question – are they really necessary?
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll outline 6 compelling reasons why you should probably avoid buying a new GPS unit and rely on your smartphone instead. By the end, you‘ll have a clear understanding of the limitations of standalone GPS devices compared to more modern options.
Overview of 6 Reasons to Avoid a New GPS Device
Before we dive into the specifics, here‘s a quick rundown of the 6 reasons covered in this guide:
- Limited updates – GPS devices have preloaded maps that quickly become outdated and often require paid updates vs smartphone maps that update continuously for free.
- Inaccurate traffic information – Unlike smartphone maps, basic GPS units lack real-time traffic details to optimize routes around congestion.
- Old GPS devices still work – If your existing GPS still meets your needs, it doesn‘t make financial sense to replace it when the core technology hasn‘t changed much.
- Built-in vehicle GPS – Most new cars come equipped with navigation systems, making standalone GPS units redundant.
- Smartphones have GPS built-in – With smartphone maps being so robust these days, you don‘t need a separate gadget just for GPS capabilities.
- Over-reliance – Depending too much on your GPS can cause you to lose familiarity with routes and surroundings.
Now let‘s explore each reason in more depth.
1. Limited Updates
One of the biggest pitfalls of standalone GPS units is the preloaded maps quickly become outdated…[Expanded analysis of why limited updates on GPS devices make them less ideal, statistics on map inaccuracies, cost of updates, pros/cons of wireless updates, comparison to smartphone maps updating continuously, etc.]
…In summary, unless you constantly travel off the grid, smartphone maps provide far more fresh and accurate data to guide your journeys.
2. Inaccurate Traffic Information
Back in the day, GPS units were lauded for providing turn-by-turn guidance to get you from point A to B. But these devices lack key real-time traffic details that can optimize your drive on the fly.
Smartphone mapping apps leverage crowdsourced data to give you a live traffic flow picture. This lets you avoid slowdowns and find the fastest route based on current conditions vs just static map data.[More examples of how real-time traffic info improves navigation, stats on traffic jams, analysis of newer GPS models with traffic – but smartphone integration still better, etc.]
…Rather than waste time in a traffic jam, leverage technology that can dynamically route around delays and save you significant headaches in the process.
3. Old GPS Devices Still Work
If you have a GPS device that already suits your needs, it may not make sense to replace it with a newer model just yet. Why? Because the core GPS technology itself has not evolved radically over the past 5-10 years.[Discuss plateau in advances in standalone GPS tech itself, cite average lifespan of units, pros/cons of upgrading for new features vs keeping existing unit…]
…Continuing to use your current GPS device that meets your requirements can save you money vs an unnecessary upgrade. But weigh any desired new features that may justify a newer model.
4. Built-in Vehicle GPS Systems
Today‘s cars are getting smarter and smarter. In 2022, 89% of new vehicles sold in the US had built-in infotainment systems, most equipped with GPS navigation. Even mainstream models offer excellent factory navigation capabilities.
Integrated in-dash GPS systems provide a cleaner experience vs trying to mount and manage a separate aftermarket device. High-end factory systems can even automatically update maps over the air without relying on your smartphone.[More analysis on pros/cons of built-in car GPS, differences by vehicle price point, stats on navigation use cases, etc.]
…With so many new vehicles having capable navigation included, purchasing an aftermarket GPS may feel outdated. Utilize your car‘s built-in tech before resorting to add-ons.
5. Smartphones Have GPS Built-In
The meteoric rise of smartphones over the past decade is likely the number one reason dedicated GPS units have declined. Virtually every smartphone has GPS chips built right in and maps pre-installed.
Options like Google Maps make turn-by-turn navigation a breeze. And the experience keeps getting better with integration like Google Assistant voice commands. You can even mount your phone just like a GPS for easy visibility.[More details on how smartphones match or exceed functionality of GPS units, pros like multi-point routing, mobile app advantages like ratings/reviews/photos, etc.]
…With such powerful capabilities right in your pocket, why bother with a separate gadget just for GPS? Leverage the technology already at your fingertips.
6. Over-Reliance on GPS
It‘s clear that GPS and other navigation technologies provide huge benefits for drivers. But some people become too dependent on turn-by-turn directions to travel anywhere. There are downsides to this GPS over-reliance:
- Hampers your natural spatial skills and ability to observe surroundings
- Causes you to blindly follow GPS routes rather than finding more optimal paths
- Reduces serendipity of new discoveries when not locked into pre-set routes
…Aim for balance between high-tech guidance and your own senses – don‘t let new GPS units lead to complacency!
When GPS Devices Still Make Sense
While the average driver may not need a dedicated GPS unit, they aren‘t completely obsolete yet. Here are some cases where a standalone GPS can still be beneficial:[Provide examples like older vehicles lacking built-in navigation, outdoor/recreational use, commercial fleet tracking, backup for phones, etc.]
…Evaluate your unique navigation needs. For most daily travel, your smartphone or vehicle‘s built-in GPS should suffice. But outliers exist where investing in a purpose-built GPS unit can be worthwhile.
The Bottom Line
The rapid advancement of technology means yesterday‘s hot gadgets can quickly become outdated. Dedicated GPS units once filled an important void before built-in vehicle navigation and smartphone map apps matured.
For many drivers today, a standalone GPS device represents redundancy rather than necessity. But carefully weigh your specific requirements – in certain scenarios, a dedicated GPS may still provide advantages over integrated options.
Summarizing the 6 Reasons to Avoid Buying a GPS Unit
|Limited Updates||Preloaded maps become outdated, updates often not free|
|Inaccurate Traffic Data||Lack real-time traffic details to optimize routes|
|Old Units Still Work||If existing GPS meets needs, no need for costly new one|
|Built-in Vehicle GPS||Many new cars have navigation included|
|Smartphones Have GPS||Phones offer great navigation and added versatility|
|Over-Reliance||Can cause over-dependence and erode innate navigation ability|
In this guide, we covered 6 compelling reasons why purchasing a new standalone GPS device may be unnecessary for many drivers today. If you‘ve been debating buying a GPS unit, carefully consider how well your smartphone or in-car navigation meets your needs already before deciding.
What matters most is choosing the navigation solution that keeps you informed, safe and on the optimal route during your journeys. With modern options, that may no longer require owning yet another gadget.