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Smartphones Keep Getting Better

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Watershed design: The new waterproof and dust-proof Sony Xperia Z. IMAGE: Sonymobile

Traditional GPSr owners have always used poor battery life, robustness and accuracy levels as the reasons why a smartphone is no good for geocaching. Until recently, this has largely been true.

But, over the years, the battery life, robustness and GPS capabilities of smartphones have all been improved significantly, making them suitable geocaching tools. The addition of paperless caching – thanks to wonderful geo-apps – has made the experience even better, to the point where many players now outright (and proudly) cache with only a smartphone.

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas produced yet another positive for the smartphone with the release of the improved Sony Xperia line of mobiles. In this case, the Sony Xperia Z not only features a 13MP camera, five-inch screen and a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Quadcore processor, it also happens to be waterproof.

Yes, that’s right, WATERPROOF! Oh, and let’s not forget it’s also DUST-PROOF!

Specifically, that’s a waterproof rating of IPX5/7 for liquid, which means it’s happy being sprayed with water and can be summerged to one metre for 30 minutes, and IPX5 for dust, which means so little dust can penetrate the Xperia’s casing that it won’t impact the phone’s operation.

In comparison, the top-of-the-range GPS handhelds on the market right now are IPX7 for liquid. So, um, when it comes to water the Sony Xperia Z is just as good … 😛

It also boasts improved battery life, strengthened glass and case, and GPS with Glonass, but I am realistic enough to acknowledge that, at this point, a dedicated handheld is still probably better and more accurate (though I have no proof of this and am willing to be proven wrong).

But the point, if I ever have one, is that smartphones are continuing to catch up, and possibly surpass in some respects, handheld GPS units. Keep watching this space … and here’s a video of the Xperia Z while you do!

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