Home / News / Why is the RF-1 Better than a Smartphone as a Cycling Computer?
Why is the RF-1 Better than a Smartphone as a Cycling Computer?

Why is the RF-1 Better than a Smartphone as a Cycling Computer?

Smartphones, we all have them.  They are wonderful devices that can do so much.  We often get questions like: "why wouldn't I use a cell phone for a bike computer?"  We'd like to discuss what sets the RF-1 apart.

  1.  Battery life.  The RF-1 can record a ride for over 12 hours, with the screen on.  The screen on a typical smartphone consumes far too much power to reliably work for nearly that long, limiting the length of ride you can record.  Speaking of screens...

  2. Sunlight Readable Screen.  The RF-1 has a screen which is readable in direct sunlight, which a smartphone does not.  While you can adjust the brightness of a cellphone in daylight, this is a great drain on the battery.

  3. Optimized GPS signal.  A smartphone is a compromise, getting all of that functionality into as tiny a space as possible.  Part of the compromise is not using a stand alone GPS antenna.  The RF-1 has a high performance GPS antenna which can receive both GPS and GLONASS signals, and will outperform smartphone GPS in difficult locations, such as mountain biking.

  4. Dedicated buttons.  The RF-1 has 3 assignable buttons, which allow for easier operation when you're on your bike and don't feel like looking at the screen to touch.  They also work great with gloves on.  Speaking of gloves...

  5. Glove Compatible Touchscreen.  Unlike a cell phone, the screen on the RF-1 can work with gloves on.  And unlike other cycling computers which do support gloves, the screen on the RF-1 supports multitouch.  All of your familiar gestures are available.

  6. Camera and Lights that Point Forward.  Sure, a smartphone has a great camera and decent light.  However, they are pointed at the ground when mounted to your bike, making them worthless.  The RF-1 camera and light are at a slight 10 degree downward tilt, so you can record and light up what's in front of you.

  7. ANT+ Sensor Technology.  The RF-1 supports ANT+ sensors, the most common and most effective sensor technology in cycling.  Some newer sensors also have BTLE, and while it's also a great technology, ANT+ continues to offer some advantages that BTLE just doesn't have.  With the RF-1 support for both ANT+ and BTLE, you don't have to choose.

  8. Altimeter.  Most smartphones don't include an altimeter.  And while some software can "guess" how much elevation you've ridden without one, it's just a guess. Typically a real altimeter is 20-30% more accurate than elevation data from GPS alone.

  9. Waterproof & Rugged.  Some smartphones are water proof, but the RF-1 is also rugged.  If your expensive phone takes a fall from the front of your bike, don't expect it's fragile screen not to break.  The RF-1 screen is strong, tempered glass.

  10. Software.  The RF-1 includes our software which does things like follow routes, allow custom screen configurations, upload to multiple sites like Strava and Training Peaks, and more.  While software for cycling does exist, it often lacks crucial features like Power Meter support, or support for maps which work offline.