Phones forum


Using mobile phone as GPS tracker for a bicycle.

by kellyllek / November 6, 2014 9:56 PM PST

I need a GPS tracker for my bike. There are items on the market but they are costly, often have monthly contracts, and are just not that well developed just yet.

Meanwhile I reckon a mobile phone would work great. GPS in phones is very stable, batteries are pretty powerful, and Pay As You Go costs are minimal. So a phone on lower power mode could be stashed on the bike, and you'd just make sure it's charged up every few days.

So I'm trying to figure out the best phone for the job. If you have suggestions please let me know?

1. Cheap (old phones are ideal as long as they have gps)
2. small
3. decent battery so you don't have to charge it every day.

Literally this phone could be 5 years old, as long as GPS works and it can run a basic operating system. Newer would be better probably as long as it's still cheap. Screens and cameras are not an issue.

I would absolutely consider doing this with an old iPhone if I had one. You can turn on location services remotely, so not having to run it all the time is a bonus. That said, locating the device is the only time you would need to use the battery, so you can really put a phone on a lower power standby mode as long as it can pick up cell signal for when you want to track it.

I'm guessing there's Android apps out there for this purpose? It'd be great if an App could message you if the bike is moved.

I have a couple places to stash it that will still pick up descent GPS. But phone size would still ideally be very small and/or thin. Basic waterproofing in a bag would be simple enough too.

Meanwhile, bluetooth trackers will be great for this purpose in cities in a couple years, but theres not enough people using them to make tracking feasible.

If you have any thoughts on this idea or phone suggestions please let me know.

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All Answers

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Item 3 failures?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 6, 2014 10:18 PM PST
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what about?
by kellyllek / November 7, 2014 6:36 AM PST
In reply to: Item 3 failures?

I can get this phone for around $60 and it's spec'd with 360 hours standby. If I got half that much it'd be more than enough. I wouldn't want to charge it every day, but that would be doable.

Thanks for the consumer report pet links. I'll check those out. I really want to avoid a monthy fee entirely but even with PAYG that might be impossible.

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I know what you ask.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 7, 2014 7:16 PM PST
In reply to: what about?

But so far, the moment you turn on the GPS your average cell phone drops to single digit hours. And without the GPS how to track or know it moved? You'll figure most of this out with your first attempt. That is, I've had this conversation over a few hundred times now. Folk seem to know what they want but the industry can't provide it because a connection costs, etc.

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