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For years, GPS devices were standalone pieces of equipment that required their own operating system and had overly complicated interfaces and functions. If someone wanted to collect data using their GPS device in the field, it often meant a lot of configuring, testing and training to collect even the most basic data. If you had a complex form or survey requiring photo collection and were concerned with location, it required that you buy expensive equipment.

Those days are officially over. With Fulcrum, you can build powerful forms and surveys in your web browser, deploy them to your smartphone or tablet and immediately begin collecting data using the GPS on your device. On some occasions, the native GPS on your smartphone isn’t accurate enough, so users must turn to external Bluetooth GPS devices for improved accuracy.

Bluetooth GPS Devices

Bad Elf's GNSS Surveyor Bluetooth GPS device

Your smartphone GPS is designed to prioritize getting a location fix quickly, with accuracy of secondary importance. However, the accuracy of smartphone GPS is continually improving, and is by no means “inaccurate”. Most smartphones and tablets made in the last year currently have a 3 - 5 meter accuracy level. On the other hand, an external GPS device is designed for precision. Once it locks onto enough satellites, it can maintain a very high level of accuracy often required in the field.

Increased Battery Life

Using Bluetooth GPS devices has another added benefit for users; it decreases your smartphone’s battery consumption. Typically, the Bluetooth connection between the smartphone and an external Bluetooth GPS requires little power, so this method can greatly increase your smartphone battery life for outdoor applications. Acquiring multiple satellite signals and calculating the location multiple times a second requires a lot of energy. Using a Bluetooth GPS pushes that workload off the smartphone, giving it a longer battery life in the field.

Comparing Bluetooth Devices

Although I am not a GPS expert, I am frequently asked if Fulcrum can be used with external Bluetooth GPS devices. I compiled this comparison chart for my own use and felt it valuable enough to share with users. External Bluetooth GPS devices work by replacing your smartphone’s native GPS location, and by then making the new location available for apps that need it. Any app that uses the device’s location service will also see accuracy and precision improvement. Many of the higher end GPS devices on the bottom of the list are extremely accurate, more so than others, however they require apps to use their SDK to conduct additional computations and to achieve sub-centimeter accuracy.

The chart below can help you find the best Bluetooth GPS device for your needs. I’ve also left links to the devices we have reviewed in the past.

Here is a link to a more detailed comparison chart. Feel free to add a note if something needs to be updated. I have also included smartphone GPS devices that run Android available on the market as well as Bluetooth barcode scanners.

MakerModelCompatibilityBattery LifeWeightAccuracyCost

XGPS150A

DualXGPS150AiOS/Android8h1.8oz (51.03g)+/-2.5 m$89 XGPS Review

XGPS150A

GarminGLOiOS/Android12h2.12oz (60.1g)3 m$129

Dual XGPS160

DualXGPS160iOS/Android10h2.6oz (73.1g)+/-2.5 m$149

Bad Elf Pro

Bad ElfGPS ProiOS/Android25h+3.2oz (90.7g)+/-2.5 m$149

Bad Elf Pro+

Bad ElfGPS Pro+iOS/Android25h+3.2oz (90.7g)+/-2.5 m$249

Bad Elf Pro Plus

Bad ElfGNSS SurveyoriOS/Android25h+3.2oz (90.7g)1-3 m$599 Bad Elf Review

Trible Leap

TrimbleLeapiOS/Android16h9.5oz (269g)2 m$999

SXBlue

SXBlueSXBlueII+Android16h4oz (114g)-1 m$1,695

Arrow Lite

EOSArrow LiteiOS/Android16h13.1oz (372g)60 cm$1,995

SXBlue II

SXBlueBlueIIAndroid10h18.24oz (517g)60 cm$2,195

Trimble R1 GNSS

TrimbleR1 GNSSiOS/Android10h+6.6oz (187g)60 cm$2,495

Trimble R2 GNSS

TrimbleR2 GNSSiOS/Android10h+38.1oz (1.01kgg)50 cm$2,700

SXBlue IIGNSS

SXBlueIIGNSSAndorid10h17.1oz (487g)60 cm$2,895

EOS Arrow 100

EOSArrow 100iOS/Android8h13.1oz (372g)60 cm$2,995

SXBlue IIB

SXBlueIIBAndroid10h18.24oz (517g)60 cm$3,695

SXBlue III-L GNSS

SXBlueIII-L GNSSAndroid9h18.24oz (517g)10 cm$6,995

SXBlue IIIGNSS

SXBlueIIIGNSSAndroid9h17.1oz (487g)1 cm$6,995

EOS Arrow 200

EOSArrow 200iOS/Android8.5h13.1oz (372g)1 cm$6,995

EOS Gold

EOSGoldiOS/Android4h13.1oz (372g)1 cm$7,995Foreign BrandsGlobalSatQstarzCanmoreHolux

  • Last Updated: July 15, 2019
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About the author

Cory is Spatial Networks' Growth Hacker. He works closely with our customers to discover their needs and challenges and coach them on the best ways to use our products to solve those challenges.

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