Coban GPS103: What qualities are demanded from budget-class GPS trackers?

Navixy continues to analyze what people expect while using vehicle GPS devices below $40.

There are dozens of manufacturers of automatic vehicle location (AVL) devices trying to increase market share by offering GPS trackers for low prices, but with rather wide functionality. One of such good examples is Coban GPS103 GPS tracker. The difference between Coban 103A and 103B modifications is availability of a remote controller in the latter.

This GPS tracker is manufactured in China by Shenzhen Coban Electronics and considered to be one of the popular in its category. The secret of Coban’s popularity is quite simple. It just meets the most of consumer's expectations when they need nothing but reliable GPS tracking.

What you pay vs. what you get

According to our studies the main features that consumers wait from budget AVL devices are:

Easy installation. It is common that users install budget GPS trackers themselves. For DIY installation it’s better to have just 2-3 wires (for power and ignition) and avoid using external GPS/GSM antennas. Coban 103 meets just one of these requirements: you’ll have to use external antennas.

The configuration of the connection with GPS tracking software shouldn’t be more difficult. With Coban 103 you basically need to send a few SMS to set up GPRS APN, server address and port – and your GPS tracker becomes online and ready for operation.

Reliable GPS tracking. Real-time tracking – is the main and, quite often, the only purpose why people chose such kind of GPS trackers. A consumer doesn't usually expect that device is able to monitor reach telemetry or read data from CAN bus. All that a car owner or a small fleet manager wants is a stable location reporting during all day, not forgetting the ability to log data when vehicle is outside the cellular coverage area. Coban 103A/B is not the best (for example it does not support Assisted GPS), but thanks to external antennas it provides a fair GPS sensitivity. There is also a cell-ID location method can be used as a backup.

As for alarm and anti-theft systems GPS trackers necessarily to have a built-in battery. Otherwise, all of security features will be useless. Coban 103B has 800 mAh backup battery and remote control which does meet consumer’s expectations. Furthermore, it has the ability to block the engine with external relay, activate a siren, connect to doors and shake sensors.

Price. Actually, there is no need to pay for the features you might not even require. If you're sure that you'll never need to use driver identification or accurate fuel level consumption measurement, you don't need to pay extra for all those smart components inside. Just take what you need.

The average retail price for Coban 103 and its modifications is around 40-45 US dollars. It’s a very competitive price, especially bearing in mind you don’t need to pay for the professional installation.

In regards of the expenses you should also take into consideration that budget devices often don’t provide the opportunity to set up and control them remotely through GPRS channel. That means you’ll send SMS every time you want to change something in the device’s settings. This is the exact story of Coban 103a and Coban 130b GPS trackers.


Everything has a downside. If you expect the advanced options for remote control of the car or getting rich telemetry from it, you missed. Coban 103A/B devices don't have digital interfaces and do not allow to connect accurate fuel sensors, driver ID kits or cameras. These device have poor abilities to monitor vehicle’s status, they can turn on the siren or block the engine in emergency situations and that’s it.

But if you’re going to use it as a basic locator or simple car alarm, it’s worth to take Coban 103 into consideration. It is not a big snag, but you should keep in mind that GPS tracker under the $40 is not an almighty device. Choose it consciously.

Want to know more details? Check our section about Coban devices.

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