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Field service management - Smartphone GPS system vs a Telematics GPS system

Which is the best choice for your business?

Field service management: Smartphone GPS system vs a Telematics GPS system. Which is the best choice for your business?

Many businesses still rely on physical telematic GPS devices (PhGPS), directly mounted in the vehicle. On the other hand, there is a growing subset of software offerings that utilize only smartphones and tablets offering the same set of services to complete your fleet operations such as Hellotracks, Jobber and Synchroteam. At Hellotracks we have noticed clients sometimes struggle to determine what is better for their business problem. Here we have examined each type of technology offering through different categories to provide you extra information in order to help with your decision-making.


Smartphones have the distinct advantage of always being connected to the cellular network and the internet. This may seem like a small difference, but telematics along with PhGPS will often need to be connected to the cellular internet as a separate service. These extra devices add extra costs on your business, as well as having to manage multiple assets and worry about breakdowns. With the use of Smartphones, this service is already included in the cost of your smartphone or tablet cellular bills. Further, smartphones are often much easier to deal with when having device problems than a piece of hardware you are not familiar with. Smartphone GPS navigation apps take advantage of this connectivity with sophisticated search, real-time traffic detection and avoidance, and API integration can be connected to multiple services that focus on things that are important to your business, such as traffic patterns. When comparing a telematics system vs a smartphone system, check out the app’s connectivity and integration features.

Maps and Directions

Most telematic GPS systems and smartphones GPS systems utilize third party mapping systems. In terms of usability, the popular systems such as Google Maps, have a wide user base who understand the mapping software. Smartphone maps and points-of-interest databases are either downloaded initially with the purchase of the app or download on the fly. You should look for software offerings that allow for your field staff to utilize services that they are already familiar with, such as Google Maps or Apple Maps.

Hellotracks uses native Google Maps on Android, Apple Maps on iOS devices.

Tracking Accuracy

When looking for tracking accuracy, PhGPS systems have always had a strong capability of receiving signals and displaying them to users. However this is all based in the local system (e.g. the mounted device), where PhGPS has struggled and will continue to struggle is its ability to share this location information via the cloud and complete analysis based on cloud data.

The benefit in this situation goes to smartphone systems as the cloud infrastructure for smartphones is much more developed than it is for the PhGPS systems due to the broader use case of smartphones. Furthermore, smartphones have seen improved performance in accuracy due to better battery technology and accuracy in signal canyons (e.g. tall buildings or natural valleys). The major benefit of smartphone systems such as Hellotracks is that the software can update location from the device to the cloud every second via a permanent connection and immediately shares that new location to their team. This is how Hellotracks can share real-time location data at every instant.

User Experience

User experience is something that can never be perfected, there is always a way to make the product better. So when looking at the user experience you should think about things like:

  • How quick will our team pick this up?
  • Can the app be customizable to our operations?
  • Are features easy to understand and integrate into our current operations?
  • Is training and help documentation available and easily understood?

One of the major faults in technology development is the creation of overly cumbersome or complicated software. Often companies try to sell you by offering everything under the sun, but fail to focus tailoring the software to what you specifically need. At Hellotracks we aim to keep the software as minimalistic and focused compared to our competitors. We focus on solutions that require no extra hardware, simple set-up and small learning curves. At the end of the day, it is always good to determine the user experience by trialing the software first.


When looking at cost, we found that most fleet telematics systems with GPS run somewhere between $40-50USD per vehicle and month. This is very understandable given extra labor and amount of extra pieces of equipment that have to be installed. Because of the leaner setup, field staff software offerings that run on smartphones or tablets can lower the monthly cost to somewhere between $10-30USD per user and month (see pricing at Hellotracks). When comparing telematics systems with smartphone systems, take the time to understand exactly what features you need. If you need distinct information coming from the engine, say fuel use or heat output for maintenance, then it may make sense to look at offerings that are in line with those needs. If you are looking for a tracking software that can lead to improved optimization of routes, real-time tracking of staff and improved customer success in the field, then a smartphone system such as Hellotracks are the better choice for you.

Overall Verdict

Smartphones have caught up in most areas the PhGPS used to be a clear benefit, including having bigger screens, multiple options for mounting and unmounting (clear benefit) and most have exceptional navigation systems due to competition. Smartphones have the additional advantages over PhGPS including lower costs, and the ability to take the device everywhere, at all times. If you want to utilize a different method of transport, smartphones work whether it be in a car, bus, bike, or on foot. Smartphone systems have the benefit of constant updates on your routes in real-time, you can enter information as you progress through the day, receive notifications either in or away from your car, and are able to track check-ins and outs on arrival at destinations. Furthermore, field service software offered through smartphones reduces the need for extra assets to manage and worry about as well as generally being lower in cost.

There are many benefits to utilizing GPS and Field Service Management software for your company. Whether you choose a traditional telematics system with physical GPS hardware or a newer smartphone system, these systems allow flexibility, cost savings, and ease-of-mind on data security. Organizations can take advantage of the benefits that many in the private sphere already know including increased savings, better data collection, greater team efficiency, sustainability, and more adaptability in offering services. Making improvements to your business operations is a necessary part of operating in the ever-changing business environment. Improving your operations does not have to be difficult, if you are looking to improve your field operations then take a look at Hellotracks and see what solutions and advice we can offer you. We have lots of articles and experience explaining how we can help your company grow and thrive.

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