Is a Nokia phone with GPS good enough to track my runs?
June 18, 2008 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I've been thinking of buying a phone with GPS to track my runs. Help me be sure and confident about my choice, or suggest a better alternative...

I've been running for over a couple of months now. About 3-4 times a week, I run anywhere between 8-12 kms and looking to improve that steadily. I've recently been interested in tracking my runs with a GPS device to help me analyse them. Most of the information I've found on runnersworld forums deals with watches which have GPS functionality like Garmin and Polar. Unfortunately, such fancy watches aren't available here AFAIK.

I was thinking of using phone with GPS for the tracking features. I currently have a Nokia e61i and will be switching to a Nokia n95/82 or e66, all of which have a built-in GPS module. Nokia has its own Tracking (Sports Tracker) website/software which I'll be using unless there's a better third-party alternative. Plus, my phone will double up as an mp3 player, so one less thing to carry on runs. And my birthday's coming up soon, so I have a reason to spend some money on myself.

I wanted to hear opinions from the mefites as to whether my choice is correct or not. Giving suggestions for phones with similar features would be great too!

Thanks for reading! :)
posted by cyanide to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
Map My Run
I just started using and like it.
posted by doorsfan at 2:55 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

You don't need a new phone, with a £30 bluetooth gps receiver your E61i can run sports tracker and upload the results.

If you do want a new phone, I'd reccomend the N82 over the N95. The receiver on the N95 is under the slide while the N82 has it at the top of the phone. As an added bonus if you run Sports Tracker on either phone it will use the accelerometer to count your steps too.
I've not had a chance to try the E66 but I did like the E71 when I had a chance to play with it, it may be a good option if you want to keep the E61i form factor.

(Disclaimer, I'm a bit biased ;))
posted by Olli at 2:56 PM on June 18, 2008

If there's any way you can get your hands on a Garmin Forerunner.. do it. Best $$ I ever spent on running (aside from a good pair of shoes, that is).
posted by PFL at 3:43 PM on June 18, 2008

If you mail-ordered a Forerunner to India it would work fine - it's just a regular GPS in a specialized tiny computer housing. Older units, like the 101 are available quite cheaply. They also show a lot of useful data, like current speed and have modes which can tell you when to speed up and slow down based on a pre-programmed training schedule.

if you just want to do tracking, you could use a phone or any cheap screen-less GPS tracker. There are units make for geotagging photos which just track youi everywhere you go. They can be had for < $100 USD but, as you said, will be one more thing to carry.
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on June 18, 2008

Map My Run.
posted by Zambrano at 4:08 PM on June 18, 2008

Nokia sports tracker is freaking awesome. I use it with my E62 and my Garmin bluetooth GPS. Sadly, I think I left my GPS module in Ohio, so now I have to figure out how to get similar functionality out of my N810, whose TI chip blows compared to the Sirf III in the Garmin.

Also sadly, all of Nokia's phones with GPS use that same TI chip. It's not disgustingly works better than a Sirf II, for example, or about as well as whatever Garmin put in my SO's couple of year old on-dash unit, but its TTFF isn't very good. 3 or 4 minutes usually, or longer with a poor signal.

In a place where the 10x (the Sirf III) would get a cold fix in a couple of minutes, the N810 took over 10. (indoors) Outdoors, it was much closer, but still the Sirf came out ahead, and has much less track wandering.

And Olli, I'm very annoyed that you've had your hands on an E71. I want one quite badly. ;)
posted by wierdo at 2:06 AM on June 19, 2008

I've got a bluetooth GPS unit that connects to my phone. I then run some free Java software on the phone which logs and saves the tracks.

It all works well until I run under a bridge and the GPS unit loses accuracy. The software then thinks I've instantly moved a couple of miles and calculates my average running speed to be 40mph!

That could probably be improved by using better logging software. Hope Sports Tracker would perform better.

As well as the N82 suggested by Olli you could look at the just released N78. Smaller and cheaper than the N82 and N95, but I don't think it's got an accelerometer so it won't count steps.

Oh - and n-thing Map My Run.
posted by roomaroo at 2:09 AM on June 19, 2008

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