Best cheap android phone for using as a cycle computer/sat nav?

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Found 5th Jun
Just looking for a phone to abuse that needs decent GPS, bluetooth, compact size, android but I guess a reasonably bright display. Preferably something with a custom rom available. Just want a phone dedicated for bike use.

Long battery life would be good but I can use a powerbank.

Alcatel?

3.5 to 4" screen would be ideal I think.

Maybe FM radio would be nice too.

Cheap rubberised case options would be good too.

It will likely get dropped with a high chance of being stolen so cheaper the better.
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FM radio is going to be hard to find as such few phones have it nowadays. You might be better off with a second hand phone as it will be cheaper and you are not too bothered about the condition (but only buy from a business like Music Magpie, Cex, Game, etc. to avoid being scammed).
xiaomi 4a. I use one as music player. Podcasts. Sat nav.
You say it will get stolen.. surely any phone will just stop working if left outside? No?
Why the custom rom if you only going to use it for sat nav, radio and music player? For these any phone with a 1gb ram will do.
Fm radio never works well. Hit and miss if you are moving about.
I might be wrong, but don't phones that have a FM radio chip build in, need the earbuds plugged in to act as the aerial/antenna?
Derek_Horatio_Shatwell1 h, 6 m ago

I might be wrong, but don't phones that have a FM radio chip build in, …I might be wrong, but don't phones that have a FM radio chip build in, need the earbuds plugged in to act as the aerial/antenna?


Yeah that was the plan mount the phone on the handlebars and plug in headphones. I know its not recommended but I've always done that and it will also give me notifications from the sat nav etc.
mrty2 h, 49 m ago

Why the custom rom if you only going to use it for sat nav, radio and …Why the custom rom if you only going to use it for sat nav, radio and music player? For these any phone with a 1gb ram will do.


The only reason I thought a custom rom would be good was if it was a very basic phone with pre-installed apps I could run a clean firmware to speed it up which might be important if it was dual core or even single core. I won't need any social media stuff on it. It will just be a relatively small number of apps.
Creatishh5th Jun

You say it will get stolen.. surely any phone will just stop working if …You say it will get stolen.. surely any phone will just stop working if left outside? No?


I just meant if I nipped into a shop for 2 minutes and risked leaving the phone on the bike there might be a chance it will be stolen. Most times I would remove the phone.
wayners3 h, 34 m ago

xiaomi 4a. I use one as music player. Podcasts. Sat nav.


4a is too good I think. I'm after a much more budget phone than that even.
Under 2gig of ram it will lag terrible. Phones with under 2gig have optimised rom so they run well but never very good.
Edited by: "wayners" 5th Jun
wayners11 m ago

Under 2gig of ram it will lag terrible. Phones with under 2gig have …Under 2gig of ram it will lag terrible. Phones with under 2gig have optimised rom so they run well but never very good.


True, unless it's an Android Go phone
wayners16 m ago

Under 2gig of ram it will lag terrible. Phones with under 2gig have …Under 2gig of ram it will lag terrible. Phones with under 2gig have optimised rom so they run well but never very good.


Say nav will only need 256mb ram max, as the image is pretty static on at nav that won't take much memory and radio usage or music player usage is minimal too. 1gb ram would suffice unless op decides to run other apps too.

1gb ram with dual core processor.
Edited by: "mrty" 5th Jun
mrty7 m ago

Say nav will only need 256mb ram max, as the image is pretty static on at …Say nav will only need 256mb ram max, as the image is pretty static on at nav that won't take much memory and radio usage or music player usage is minimal too. 1gb ram would suffice unless op decides to run other apps too.1gb ram with dual core processor.


My old Samsung s3 just would not run sat nav from about 2016. Would overheat to. I rooted and put rom on but it struggled and world take ages to get setup and going and has 1 gig ram. I listen to Andriod podcasts and talk of emerging markets with low powered phones and 2 gig ram seems the minimum spec for smooth performance. I Agree. Android os runs in the ram so the more the better and 2-3 gig is perfect for most and plenty of cheapo phones with good specs.
bonzobanana1 h, 25 m ago

4a is too good I think. I'm after a much more budget phone than that even.


Under £20? Yeah, the £19.99 Alcatel where the US version is known to survive multiple drops from sandal-wearing gonads hanging 30ft offa some apartment building, has at least two custom ROMs available (Exodus & CM) both with FM radios, would likely make a thief run away rather than run away with it, ticks boxes for bluetooth, screensize etc and according to section 9 within Argos specsheet PDF has GPS, although some say it doesn't. Go figure. Also benefits from a heart-stopping 512MB RAM.



argos.co.uk/pro…923
documents.4rgos.it/v1/…001 which doesn't appear to acknowledge the variant shifted by EE, which may be the 4009X.
mrty5 h, 48 m ago

Say nav will only need 256mb ram max, as the image is pretty static on at …Say nav will only need 256mb ram max, as the image is pretty static on at nav that won't take much memory and radio usage or music player usage is minimal too. 1gb ram would suffice unless op decides to run other apps too.1gb ram with dual core processor.


That is my logic too although I was thinking I might get away with less than 1GB if I have minimal apps installed but I guess that will limit me too much.
AndyRoyd5 h, 21 m ago

Under £20? Yeah, the £19.99 Alcatel where the US version is known to s …Under £20? Yeah, the £19.99 Alcatel where the US version is known to survive multiple drops from sandal-wearing gonads hanging 30ft offa some apartment building, has at least two custom ROMs available (Exodus & CM) both with FM radios, would likely make a thief run away rather than run away with it, ticks boxes for bluetooth, screensize etc and according to section 9 within Argos specsheet PDF has GPS, although some say it doesn't. Go figure. Also benefits from a heart-stopping 512MB RAM.[Video] http://www.argos.co.uk/product/4176923http://documents.4rgos.it/v1/static/4176923_R_D001 which doesn't appear to acknowledge the variant shifted by EE, which may be the 4009X.


Yes I'm confused by the GPS thing on the Alcatel. Some people claim to have the phone and have no GPS and yet its clearly listed in the spec.
bonzobanana14 h, 48 m ago

Yes I'm confused by the GPS thing on the Alcatel. Some people claim to …Yes I'm confused by the GPS thing on the Alcatel. Some people claim to have the phone and have no GPS and yet its clearly listed in the spec.


Page 1 ToC for Argos PDF specsheet quotes "This is a shared user manual for 4027X/4027D" but I'm near-certain that the model shifted by EE is 4009X. Don't know if 4009X has GPS, may be worth a tailored websearch using that model number and definitely ignoring any results that don't specifically refer to the 4009X / EE model.
Edited by: "AndyRoyd" 6th Jun
I use my old samsung galaxy s3 in the car as a music player Could also use it for Sat nav
bonzobanana1 h, 12 m ago

Yes I'm confused by the GPS thing on the Alcatel. Some people claim to …Yes I'm confused by the GPS thing on the Alcatel. Some people claim to have the phone and have no GPS and yet its clearly listed in the spec.


Alcatel support states "GPS (4009E, 4009F, 4009A, 4009S/4023A, 4022D, 4022X)" which implies the EE 4009X model does not have GPS alcatelmobile.com/con…3-5
What about a cheap tablet. Don't need Internet for set nav. I use a tablet, downloaded navigator (which works off-line) or you can tether to the phone you use for calls for searching for new places.

Easier to see too
AndyRoyd5th Jun

Alcatel support states "GPS (4009E, 4009F, 4009A, 4009S/4023A, 4022D, …Alcatel support states "GPS (4009E, 4009F, 4009A, 4009S/4023A, 4022D, 4022X)" which implies the EE 4009X model does not have GPS https://www.alcatelmobile.com/content/download/pixi-33-5


I think I've sussed it now the 4009X has A-GPS and relies on that to make the GPS connection due to a very poor/weak GPS receiver that cannot lock on itself so it relies on having a sim card with data allowance, data switched on and a connection to a mobile transmitter. Many mobiles have both A-GPS and GPS but the 4009X only has A-GPS which basically costs money to use. Anywhere you go without a mobile signal means no GPS even if you have data on and a data allowance. That isn't the solution I want. I assume the other Alcatel phones have a better GPS receiver or maybe they are similarly effected . Maybe there is a reasonable GPS receiver in the 4009X but the firmware makes sure it relies on A-GPS to lock. You could understand it would encourage people to always have a data allowance for this feature so it makes commercial sense but I'd rather use a phone with a standard GPS receiver with or without additional A-GPS functionality available. I understand A-GPS can work better with a faster startup.

My main mobile which is quite large and do not want to use as my bicycle sat nav is a Doogee Y6 Max 3D also based on a mediatek chipset and known for GPS problems and I'm thinking that probably is relying on A-GPS too. I'm on pay as you go and turn data off most of the time relying on wifi and keeping my credit for phone calls. Maybe a common problem with Mediatek phones. Dedicated GPS utilities seem to get a lock on the Y6 Max phone after a while but just running standard GPS apps causes problems often losing the exact location without data enabled.

My older Doogee Y100 Plus phone had no such GPS issues at all, also based on a earlier Mediatek chipset.
So much for that theory I tried my mother's 4009X to see if that had GPS earlier and definitely no GPS unless blocked by the firmware. I'm guessing even the dearer models like the Pixi 4 may need A-GPS and a data connection to lock onto satellites as that was one of the issues mentioned for similar Alcatel pixi phones but the Pixi 3 3.5 doesn't have GPS at all.

Just experimenting with a HTC Incredible S which I picked up for about £9. This looks ideal but I need to unlock the bootloader but windows 10 doesn't seem compatible with the usb drivers so I'm going to have to find one of my old pc's to use. I've got an old Median laptop somewhere. GPS signal seems great on it, its got a Super LCD display and there are firmware upgrades to take it up to oreo. Camera is great on it, better than my 4k action camera. This should be ideal for a bicycle computer. Best thing is very high build quality. Hopefully I'll have it up and running in a week or so with all the required apps installed.

Any suggestions for ideal apps. I won't have a huge amount of space. I'm using one of my old 8GB micro SD cards I had hanging about and there is only about 1GB left over internally. I was hoping for some space for a few mp3s, in addition to sat nav software and other specific cycling apps. I also want a bit of space for 720p 30fps movies that the phone can take. I'd only need to take 20 minute movies I guess. I may upgrade the micro sd card if I have to I guess. I'm using a freebie three sim that gives you 200MB of data a month for free. Might be useful for updating the gps on the fly with data and working with A-GPS to speed up GPS lock on.

It's an old phone from 2011 with a single core cpu but absolutely blows apart the Pixi 3 3.5 in performance and quality. The dual led's provide enough light to be the front lights of the bike and you can film 720p video with the lights on. I'll attach the phone to a powerbank so battery consumption is not an issue at all.

33964709-lmmGU.jpg
bonzobanana1 h, 17 m ago

So much for that theory I tried my mother's 4009X to see if that had GPS …So much for that theory I tried my mother's 4009X to see if that had GPS earlier and definitely no GPS unless blocked by the firmware. I'm guessing even the dearer models like the Pixi 4 may need A-GPS and a data connection to lock onto satellites as that was one of the issues mentioned for similar Alcatel pixi phones but the Pixi 3 3.5 doesn't have GPS at all.Just experimenting with a HTC Incredible S which I picked up for about £9. This looks ideal but I need to unlock the bootloader but windows 10 doesn't seem compatible with the usb drivers so I'm going to have to find one of my old pc's to use. I've got an old Median laptop somewhere. GPS signal seems great on it, its got a Super LCD display and there are firmware upgrades to take it up to oreo. Camera is great on it, better than my 4k action camera. This should be ideal for a bicycle computer. Best thing is very high build quality. Hopefully I'll have it up and running in a week or so with all the required apps installed.Any suggestions for ideal apps. I won't have a huge amount of space. I'm using one of my old 8GB micro SD cards I had hanging about and there is only about 1GB left over internally. I was hoping for some space for a few mp3s, in addition to sat nav software and other specific cycling apps. I also want a bit of space for 720p 30fps movies that the phone can take. I'd only need to take 20 minute movies I guess. I may upgrade the micro sd card if I have to I guess. I'm using a freebie three sim that gives you 200MB of data a month for free. Might be useful for updating the gps on the fly with data and working with A-GPS to speed up GPS lock on.It's an old phone from 2011 with a single core cpu but absolutely blows apart the Pixi 3 3.5 in performance and quality. The dual led's provide enough light to be the front lights of the bike and you can film 720p video with the lights on. I'll attach the phone to a powerbank so battery consumption is not an issue at all. [Image]


You describe the phone in such a great way that I want to buy it

Then you add the picture

Can't ride a bike so I can't recommend any apps, but you definitely will have to upgrade that SD card if you want to get MP3 files and download more than the very basic apps.
jamie01529 m ago

You describe the phone in such a great way that I want to buy it Then …You describe the phone in such a great way that I want to buy it Then you add the picture Can't ride a bike so I can't recommend any apps, but you definitely will have to upgrade that SD card if you want to get MP3 files and download more than the very basic apps.


I thought the image showed a rugged looking phone ideal for the knocks and bumps and possible drops that a bike computer might get. The 8 megapixel camera sticks out from the body of the phone because it seems to be quite high spec, better than many budget mobile phone camera's. I think the alcatel pixi 3 is 2 megapixel with no autofocus or even maybe flash in comparison. In fact the front camera on the HTC seems much better than the single main camera of the Alcatel. It shouldn't be but the Alcatel just seems terrible.

An old more premium phone does seem superior to a ultra low budget phone of today. Whatever it should work well. I did think I had an old 16GB microsd card somewhere and see if I can find that. That would definitely be more than enough for my intended purpose.
I've used an old Xperia Ray I had in the cupboard, they're going for about £35 on eBay, or £70 for a new one. It's got a 3.3in screen, so is really compact. I've got it really pared back and use CycleDroid which is totally free as a GPS cycle computer. So far it's been flawless for my needs. Battery life is fine too, it only loses about 10% per hour even with the screen on permanently.

I've put an ASDA Mobile SIM in it so I can use it in an emergency if needed, but I just have it on flight mode and turn GPS on when I need tracking to start. Haven't attempted to use Google Maps on it, but it's installed so I guess it would work. Basically the only drawback is that it's not waterproof, but I don't plan on doing much cycling in the rain anyway.

The best part is the mount I've made for it, which in true HUKD style cost less than £7 but that I'm really proud of. I'll show you the pics if you want, the principle will probably be fine for yours.
Edited by: "Whitedot" 12th Jun
I've tried a few times now to unlock the htc using windows 10 it just won't work for me. I've got a windows 10 laptop and a main pc in the living room and neither will work. I've tried the latest drivers and using compatibility mode but windows 10 won't cut it it seems. Someone else on a forum mentioned as soon as they tried windows 7 it worked instantly and I have an old laptop somewhere with xp that I might try but haven't got round to it.

I have however also got now a old motorola moto g (first gen) it has a very small crack on the glass which is very hard to see. I'm thinking that pretty much destroys any value to the phone and its very fast with good custom rom support and may use that one instead due to its larger screen and faster performance. I'm going to try both out in sunlight to see which offers the best visibility. I suspect this will be a win for the Motorola but not sure its basically IPS (moto g) vs Super LCD (HTC). The only issue with the Motorola is its stuck with 8GB storage with no upgrade possible. I reckon that will be fine though it will just limit me for mp3 storage and will have to rely on the fm radio more.

I looked at cycle droid and that looks good but there are so many cycle computer apps. Playstore is absolutely swamped with them.

I wouldn't mind seeing an image of your mount if you have the time.
Good shout on the Moto G, the wife has one kicking about somewhere. Could use that further down the line if I decide I need more functionality.

For the mount I spent ages trying to find one for the Xperia Ray or a similarly small phone, considered one of those universal mounts but they're all intended for the massive smartphones we have these days. The closest I could find was an iPhone 4 mount, but obviously that would be an almighty bodge as they're designed for the exact iPhone dimensions. Still quite rare as well.

Anyway I started looking for DIY solutions and came across a couple of videos on Youtube where a chap was trying out different efforts. One was based on cutting up an inner tube but what he later settled on was to use a silicone case that he strapped to his stem with zip ties, with an old sock underneath. I tried to refine it a bit further and ended up buying from eBay:

1. A silicone case; cost about £2.50 and I even managed to match the colour to my bike nicely.
2. Some 10mm neoprene; about £2.50 for a small sheet.
3. Some 10mm wide Velcro One-Wrap; about £1.50 for a 1m length.

All it took was cutting the neoprene and strapping to length, and the right slots in the silicone case. Used some sticky glue dots to affix the neoprene to the case. This is the final result:


34035219-sJuHf.jpg

34035219-w8JWm.jpg

34035219-T3PKh.jpg
Here's the video I nicked the concept from:
Here's what I'm thinking of. Basically I want to mount it so the screen is almost vertical except tilting slightly forward towards the front of the bike so I can use it to take timelapse images or video as I cycle sometimes in addition to other uses.

So I was thinking of this;

aliexpress.com/ite…tml

and this;

aliexpress.com/ite…tml

I also like the universal nature of it. I'm not sure how secure it will be. I tempted to get 2 clamps and fit a plate behind that links it to the other clamp for safety.
Almost vertical would be pretty hard to see no? How secure it would be was probably my biggest concern, didn't want some massive bracket that I was struggling to get tight around such a small phone. Might be better with the Moto G.
I'm guessing I'd probably want to adjust the bracket so I could just rotate it myself, rotate more forward for viewing, rotate further back for recording video. I thought there might be a set position like 5 degrees off vertical that would enable me to see the screen but still have viable footage of the road in front depending on field of view of the camera. I'm going to have to experiment a bit I guess. Do you get much reflections on the screen with the phone level? Can you see the display in all light conditions and what sort of display has your phone got?
It has an LCD display. I've got it set quite low in terms of brightness (haven't actually changed it from how it was left in the cupboard years ago) and it's been fine for seeing the key data at a glance. It would be better at higher brightness I guess but I've not felt the need to increase it so far, even in sunny weather. When it's overcast it's noticeably easier to read though.
Are you using any sort of anti-glare matt finish screen protector?

Looking at this;

gsmarena.com/son…php

Your phone has an identical chipset to my htc incredible S.

gsmarena.com/htc…php

Are you using any sort of custom rom or is it stock?
@bonzobanana Nope, no screen protector.

It's just on stock Gingerbread, it can be updated officially to Ice Cream Sandwich but I've read performance can suffer so I don't see the need. In fact O2 decided it was so iffy they never rolled it out: news.o2.co.uk/201…eo/
Well I'm unlocked the bootloader of the Moto G without problems but there is some sort of driver issue with HTC and windows 10 that prevents me doing that on the HTC. I'm only going to use one of those minimal custom roms that normally speed up phones and improve compatibility. As it is my HTC will not run many apps that I wish to use.

Have you tried bikehub? It's uk and bike centric sat nav so has some poor reviews because people outside the UK have tried to use it but it looks good. I'm trying to work out which apps are the best to use as its likely the moto g will be model I use. 8GB doesn't leave a lot left over with the firmware taking up a chunk of that space.

Looks very smart that. Needs Android 4.4 and later though, so I've no chance. I generally know where I'm going anyway tbh, so turn-by-turn directions aren't all that appealing at present.
I've sorted out the moto g and now all ready to use. It's got android 8.0 on it and a minimal clean install. I tried that bike hub app but it needs a constant data connection to work, some great features but no good for me at all. The phone I'm using is locked to vodafone and it looks like I have to be using the vodafone sim for 1 month before they will unlock it. It doesn't appear that I have to add any credit to the phone. I can then put in my 200MB free a month three sim.

These are the apps I've installed. I've crossed out the ones that I'm not using and have been uninstalled. If there's any you recommend I don't have I'll give it a shot. I have about 1.5GB left. I want to keep some space for short video recordings. The fm radio app was in the minimal install. I've setup a new email address for the phone. Some of the apps I've installed are just to try and may get uninstalled again. Just need to wait for the mount to turn up in a week or so.

34080847-QmAfN.jpg
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