Garmin Nuvi Review – GPS vs. Smartphone

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Why Should You Buy A GPS?

The Garmin Nuvi is a great GPS navigation system. But why would you buy any GPS when you can have it all on a smartphone? After all, most smartphone platforms have an awesome GPS built right in. The smartphone interface is getting better all the time and is a huge competitor to all other dedicated GPS systems. There are only a few reasons that make something like the Garmin Nuvi more attractive than a smartphone, but these are compelling reasons.

I own both a smartphone and a Garmin Nuvi . I purchased the Garmin before I had a smartphone for a trip I was taking to Pittsburg. I loved it. It made the trip much easier and stress free not worrying about trying to figure out how to get places. Then, about eight months later I got a smartphone with a plan upgrade. I thought, oh great why did I buy a GPS when my phone will just end up replacing it? After a few months and a couple more small trips however, I was glad I had purchased the Garmin. Here are a few reasons that I like to have a dedicated GPS like the Garmin Nuvi for my navigation needs.

Screen Size

Not many smartphones can compete with a 5” screen. This is great when you are navigating in unknown areas, especially when you are in lots of traffic or an area densely populated with streets. Trying to look at for example the Iphone 4s 3.5” screen vs the Garmin Nuvi 5” screen makes a huge difference. Yea I know that any GPS will talk to you and tell you when to turn, but for us visual people we want to see where we are going and it helps to have that nice big screen posted on your windshield to look at.


Although the smartphones have a lot of great features that are very similar to something like the Garmin, the dedicated GPS system with the huge screen definitely has my vote as the interface I would rather work with. The whole system is built around finding places you want to go, making it easy to use. Nice graphics and common categories like food or shopping are really nice when you are in an unfamiliar area and looking for a place to eat. The map view is great too when you are driving because it automatically zooms in and out depending on the type of driving you are doing or if you are approaching a turn. These are just a few examples. The result is a smooth easy to follow experience that relieves the stress of navigating in an unfamiliar place.


There are a few things that make life a little easier when you use a GPS vs. a smartphone for your navigation needs. The main thing is that when you have a Garmin, its only job is to navigate. You post it up on the windshield (or your place of preference) and leave it there to do its job. It is always in view and easy to see. With a smartphone, the device doubles as a wide variety of other devices (like your phone). Whenever you need to use the smartphone for anything other than the GPS it ceases to function as a GPS. You might like to use your phone for other things while driving like phone calls, music, or internet, just to name a few. Having a Garmin makes it much more convenient to use the smartphone for other things.


Unless you have are due for an upgrade on your plan, smartphones are expensive. Even with the upgrade you can still spend a few hundred dollars. A Garmin is $100 – $200 dollars and there are cheaper models out there too. A lot of these come with lifetime map and traffic updates. For a relatively small cost, you can upgrade your driving experience and relieve the stress and complications that come from trying to navigate in strange places. GPS vs. smartphone? I choose the dedicated GPS for long tips and every day driving. I leave the smartphone for those impromptu tips, music, internet, and actually talking on it.

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