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As already mentioned, that isn't a concern anymore with the release of Google Maps for the iPhone. After using it, dedicated GPS like Garmin and TomTom may be obsolete.

Well, not so fast.

While smartphones have GPS, even Assisted GPS, what they don't have is a full worldwide - or even nationwide - set of maps in storage. So while you have GPS, you may not have a map to lay over it. (Confusing, I know.)

That's where the confusion about "you have to have cell service" probably comes from. Without an internet connection, your phone can't get "a map", even though it knows where it is. (Does knowing that you're at 6' 34" help?)

Dedicated devices devote all their memory to storing maps. Smartphones use it for music, pictures of funny cats, Angry Birds, grocery lists and so on. If you want it to have a map of where you're going to be, you need to PRE-load it while you have an internet connection: either cellular or wi-fi. (This is the same for Android and for iOS. Arguably iOS is better, because it uses a vector graphed map rather than bit-mapped, which means it stores about 10 times the "map" in the same memory space. Ever watched a Google map "tile" its way onto the screen? Apple's maps are more like vector fonts instead of bitmapped fonts. That said, it will be a few months worth of crowdsourcing to get all the needed corrections in place, although they're claiming over 99% accuracy already.)

Dedicated devices still have their place, although I suspect it's a diminishing one - but then again maybe not as more and more people get used to using GPS and businesses and car owners install them in their vehicles. As an investor I sure wouldn't bet on them, but maybe the market is growing enough to compensate; dunno. (Don't care.)

Here's a quick page about GPS and pre-loading maps. (I don't vouch for it, I just grabbed a quick one.)

Last: battery life is an issue. Using true GPS on a smartphone is costly. Using A-GPS less so, because your cell service is already on an running. (Cell towers know where they are and don't move much, right?) True GPS requires lots of receiving and calculating PLUS the cell service, plus downloading data for maps (again, iOS is more efficient: more map, less data). Plus, of course, keeping the screen lit all the time. Dedicated devices are bigger, bulkier, and have the maps in memory so there's no downloading, plus they have bigger batteries to deal with it all.

Smartphone GPS is a wonderful convenience, but it comes with a few strings attached.
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