I use my mid-price Garmin GPS60 handheld GPS device to record waypoints for vegetation surveys and other field surveys, often under tree cover.

In asking 'should I replace my old unit', I should say that I don't really care about colour screens, backdrop display maps or any other enhancements. I just want good waypoints.

Would a newer mid-price handheld GPS do an appreciably better job of getting satellite fixes and getting better positional accuracy than my 7 year old unit?

Is the basic technology now better in some way, or is it much the same as it was 7 years ago?

  • There is no comparisons on the Garmin website, but you can see if the newer units connect to more satellite types etc and/or compare by price point buy.garmin.com/en-CA/CA/…
    – user681
    May 1, 2015 at 0:29

2 Answers 2


Unless there is a WAAS capable or not distinction (or similar error correction), consumer units aren't likely to vary enough, or rather be accurate enough, even with new tech to warrant an upgrade. That said, newer chipsets can potentially achieve locks faster, have better signal processing, or have better antenna designs. The units themselves may also process/display faster, store more data, or store it in a more common/accessible format, but you mention that as not being a concern.

I have a feeling that baring the consumer/professional distinction (see below) any answer is going to be largely opinion and anecdotally based. I'm still using a 60CSx and have had no call to upgrade though I do find panning to be a bit slow sometimes. I can get a lock faster than any number of smartphones that are less than two years old. I've had better reception/faster lock than other consumer units in the past, but haven't done a comparison to any more recent actual GPS units.

Your definition of 'mid-price' may vary because hand-held units come in both consumer and survey-grade which is the larger and more expensive distinction. There are a number of studies and sales materials out there that compare various GPS units. Examples include (random Google search results):


I'm not aware of any empirical studies, but my view is that smartphones are a better option than handheld GPS devices.

Many smartphones these days support both GPS and GLONASS, and they support modern data capture applications, such as Fulcrum.

Couple a smartphone with a bluetooth GNSS device, from Trimble or others, and you have a pretty damn good precision for reasonably low cost (though you might need to subscribe to corrections for the best precision).

  • There are studies out there that compare smartphones to dedicated units. The phone itself and presence of cell network coverage can play a role. Whether one or the other is better is debatable, and depends on if you're considering data collection or just point collection. There are a number of GPS units that support GLONASS as well, but people seem to put a lot more stock in that attribute than it's really worth, depending on where you are in the world. Smartphone/GNSS device is a whole other option at which point you compare phones, handhelds, and GNSS devices.
    – Chris W
    May 1, 2015 at 1:37

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