Which is better, a dedicated GPS datalogger or an android smartphone?

I decided to try a little experiment; I have a QStarz BT-Q1000XT GPS datalogger (based on the MTK chipset), and it gives very good results.
But I recently got a smartphone with GPS, a Samsung Galaxy s3 mini, and have been recording tracks on it using the standard ‘My Tracks‘ app that comes from Google.
I’d noticed many errors and deviations on the results from my phone, so I decided to try a little experiment. I put both the phone and datalogger side-by-side in the cabin of my boat and sailed about for a bit, I then compared the results.

Qstarz - s3mini comparisonQstarz - s3mini detail

In the attached images the BT-Q100XT is the blue track, and the s3 mini the red one. You can clearly see the s3 mini is drifting off at times (causing ‘kinks’ in the track) while the BT-Q1000XT stays fully locked on. I guess this is a good demonstration that the GPS features in mobile phones still have some way to go compared to a dedicated device and chipset.

You can explore this as an interactive map here.


For reference: Both GPS devices were placed side by side within the open hatch of my boat, partly sheltered by the cabin roof.

  • QStarz BT-Q1000XT set to fix every 500ms, recording a track point every 5 seconds or 1m (whichever is sooner), running firmware ANX_130-B_1.3_C01 and read via BT747 v2.x.1975
  • Galaxy s3mini/MyTracks running with default (non user visible) configuration, Model GT-I8190, Android v4.1.2 (kernel 3.0.31-809600), My Tracks v2.0.4

[I exported the results from My Tracks, and imported them into the same app. that I use for downloading from my datalogger, and then used this to make two identical maps which I have combined (by cutting and pasting the relevant HTML) into one.]

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Long weekend

A gorgeous holiday weekend; so I decided to do some sailing!
GPS sail track on a map.

Lots of fun, quite a distance covered in total, but my boat yearns for bigger waters.

For a more interactive map showing individual tracks: Try this one!