Trimble SiteVision Essentials (2)

What phone should you use with SiteVision? Trimble presents the argument for the Samsung S10 Plus. Now that Trimble SiteVision is available for order, you need to make sure you have a supported mobile device to use and get the most out of your data! The Trimble SiteVision team has…

What phone should you use with SiteVision? Trimble presents the argument for the Samsung S10 Plus.
Now that Trimble SiteVision is available for order, you need to make sure you have a supported mobile device to use and get the most out of your data! The Trimble SiteVision team has written this blog to help you understand the mobile device elements that we consider important, and to help you make the best choice on a supported mobile device.
What phone should I get?
It’s like deciding the perfect holiday, there are many factors to consider. You read the reviews, you weigh out the benefits, and you make informed decisions. So based on a range of factors, we’ve concluded that the Samsung S10 Plus is the top destination.Blog-05-which-phone-to-use-sitevision


So what are the factors to consider when looking at a phone for SiteVision?

1. RAM
2. Screen size
3. Lens calibration
4. Data storage
5. Processor
6. Battery size

The SiteVision system works with ARCore capable Android phones, so the question is, what is the best phone to buy for use with SiteVision from the broad range of ARCore capable phones.
The list of supported phones to pick from is listed here.

With over 100 models to pick from, Trimble has selected a few to test and recommend. We have run SiteVision on phones from Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and Google. This does not mean that the other models will not work, just that we have not tested them.

RAM: This affects how large a model you can load and manage (and in the next paragraph we explain what we mean by size of the model). For phones that Trimble has tested and recommend we use the maximum available RAM memory.

The size of data model that SiteVision supports is a function of the complexity of the data (the number of lines, meshes/triangles, and textures in the model), and the device’s available memory. This means that a smaller file with very complex geometry may not load the full model, but a very large file with simple geometry but a lot of attribute information may load the full model. The amount of available RAM memory in a device depends not only on what the phone has, say 8GB, but also what other applications you have, that may be using some of that memory.

For phones we have not tested we need to we need to be conservative and use a subset of the memory. For example, using a recommended phone with 8GB of RAM will give you a larger model load than a non-recommended untested phone with 8GB of RAM. 


Additionally, if a model file size is over 200 MB then the application will ask you to confirm that you want to download it. This is because large models may take a long time to download depending on the speed and reliability of the device’s connection.The following list includes recommended devices, in order of preference. The model size limits associated with each of these models is also listed:

Device Number of Triangles
Samsung S10 Plus (8 GB) 8 Million
Samsung S10 5G (8 GB) 8 Million
Samsung Note 10 Plus 10 Million
Samsung Note 9 8 Million
Samsung S9 Plus 6 Million
Samsung Note 8 6 Million
Samsung S8+ 3 Million
Pixel 3XL 3 Million
Pixel 2XL 1.5 Million


For devices that are not on the list above the model size limits are:

4GB RAM 1.5 Million
6GB RAM 3 Million
8GB or greater than 8GB RAM 6 Million


If you try to load a model larger than the limits described above, the application warns you that it will not render and display some of the data.

Screen size: The bigger and brighter the better. Of the recommended phones the Samsung S10 5G (6.7”) and the Samsung Note 10 Plus (6.8”) have the largest screens. We have also tested with the Huawei Mate Pro with a 7.3”. This phone is not on our recommended list but has a great screen that is the biggest on an ARCore supported “phone” that we have found.

Processor: The simple rule is the faster the better and the more modern the better.  The SiteVision system is running the video camera, Bluetooth to talk to the EDM, cellular or WiFi for corrections, ARCore processing, the software based GNSS receiver doing RTK, and the application itself, plus any other apps the phone may have running in the background. All of this is a high processing load so the faster the processor the better to ensure that when you load a large model with millions of entities, the system is responsive.

Additionally, the latest processors are also more efficient (e.g. Snapdragon 855 with 7nm technology verse a Snapdragon 835 with 10nm technology) and generate less heat in the phone. As a result you a get a few degrees more of operating temperature range. The Samsung Galaxy devices are designed for operating in an ambient temperature between 32 and 95F degrees (0 to 35C degrees) but if they have a heavy processor load, such as running SiteVision with a large model, in higher temperatures the phone may start turning down the screen brightness and slowing/stopping services. One of the first things the phone will do as it approaches its upper temperature range is to switch off any charging because batteries do not like being charged at high temperatures. From a user perspective, on Samsung phones, a red LED turns on to tell you that charging is disabled, and at the point that it stops the SiteVision unit from charging the GNSS connection will do a reset and re-initialize.

The newer processors also have faster RAM access, which will further improve responsiveness and faster communications, which means less waiting when loading large data sets.

Lens calibration: For recommended phones we have also looked at how well the lens calibration is done. The quality of the lens calibration affects the accuracy of the representation of the model in the AR view. This can be quite noticeable and it varies by phone model. At the time of writing we would recommend the Samsung S10 Plus for the accuracy of its AR view.


Samsung S8 Plus – Misaligned at a distance


Samsung S9 Plus – Better at a distance


Samsung S10 Plus – Great at a distance

The images above show the differences you can get between phone models, using an identical data set, based on the different lens calibrations.

We see a trend that the more modern phones have better calibrations. We observed in our testing that the Google Pixel phones have good calibration which is what we would expect as Google develops both the phones and the ARCore software.

Data Storage:  Model file sizes for SiteVision tend to be between a few megabytes and 2-300 megabytes. Each model is cached on the phone. When you reload a model, it checks with Trimble Connect to make sure the model on the phone is the current revision. If it is the current revision, SiteVision reloads the model from the cache in the phone’s internal storage. This is done to improve speed and reduce data usage from your data plan. The minimum storage we would recommend is 64 GB.  Depending on how much you plan to use the phone for photos, videos and other applications, a better option may be 128GB phone. A 128GB phone can store more than 500 large models.

Battery Size: The length of time you can operate SiteVision for between charges is a function of three main factors; the battery size, the processor, and the charge rate. The more modern phones tend to have larger batteries which provide longer operating times. For example the Samsung S8+ had a 3500 mAh battery compared to the S10 Plus with an 4100 mAh battery and the S10 5G with a 4500 mAh battery. Based on battery size alone the S10 5G will operate about 25% longer than the S8 Plus, but the improvements in processor efficiency result in the S10 5G operating for nearly twice as long as the older Samsung S8 Plus when running the SiteVision application. To help extend the operating time of the phone, the SiteVision system also provides a trickle charge into the phone.


The “best” phone is always a moving target because there is always a new phone coming. Considering both price and performance the best overall phones that we have tested at the time of writing are the Samsung S10 Plus with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and the Samsung S10 5G with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

You can buy Trimble SiteVision online from KOREC here