Smartphone vs bike computer: which is best for adventure riding?

I left my cycling computer at home and rode 360km through Morocco’s High Atlas mountains to find out…

Smartphone mounted on a gravel bike for a bikepacking loop around Morocco
(Image credit: Future)

Dropping straight in with a dollop of context, I have always used a cycling computer. When I was 12-years-old and riding laps of the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit, it was just a simple magnet-sensing oedometer attached to my bars. My first one which I could upload a GPX route to was the Garmin 510, although on that model it was just a simple ‘breadcrumb’ trail.

As such, using a cycling-specific GPS unit was something that, for me, almost went without saying. But have I been missing out? Rather than being a navigation system of last resort, could a smartphone actually compete - and even be better than - a traditional bike computer?

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