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Does GPS use data?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by spman, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    There are 3 options to choose for [Locations]:
    settings>more>locations (turn on)>mode>[High accuracy (uses gps, wifi and mobile networks to estimate your location)]/[power saving (uses wifi and mobile networks to estimate your location)/[GPS only (uses GPS to estimate your location)]

    Q1 If I choose [High accuracy (uses gps, wifi and mobile networks to estimate your location)], does the phone consume mobile data?

    Q2 If I choose [GPS only (uses GPS to estimate your location)], does the phone consume mobile data?

    Q3 If I choose [GPS only (uses GPS to estimate your location)], does using Google navigation, Google map consume mobile data?


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  2. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    1. It uses mobile data if WiFi is not available.

    2. It does not use mobile data if WiFi is available.

    3. It does use mobile data unless you have a WiFi connection.

    In fact, in all 3 cases data is needed to download maps or possibly other info. So in all cases, if you do not have WiFi mobile data will be used to fetch maps or other non-GPS info required.
    spman likes this.
  3. kate

    kate Dreaming of Bugdroid.

    #2 and #3 - it's possible to not use any data with some navigation apps that let you download entire maps beforehand using WiFi. Since the map is already on the phone no data is used for GPS navigation. NavFree and MapFactor are two.
    spman likes this.
  4. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    What does [GPS only (uses GPS to estimate your location)] need to use data? It says GPS only and did not mention mobile networks. How does it use data if it does not use mobile networks

    Only the other 2 options (see post #1) mention that they use mobile networks
  5. tommo47

    tommo47 On Yer Bike, In Yer Chair
    VIP Member

    Hi spman, there are two issues here, location and mapping/navigation. As far as location is concerned, if you have GPS on and mobile data and wifi both switched off your location can be detetmined given that three or more GPS satellites are 'seen' by your GPS receiver, this can be verified by using any of a number of gps apps such as GPS Status or GPS Test, therefore no data is consumed.

    For mapping/navigation the same applies provided that you are using an app that allows downloading maps to your device. I use Navigation by Route66 and OsmAnd+. Google maps can only be used for navigation if a data connection is available, and it can use a lot of data.

    As far as using mobile network and/or wifi for location is concerned again no data is consumed unless AGPS is utilised which is the downloading of GPS data to your device specifically to give a quicker 'first lock' or where the communication with GPS satellites is restricted, and even then it is only a small amount of data.

    Geolocation uses triangulation of access points to your mobile network, and IP address obtained from internet router access points primarily from Google's database built from the Streetview excercise. If you are in range of three or more masts your approximate position can be established. As soon as you switch your wifi on your device is scanning for router access points.

    In terms of accuracy, it is generally considered that GPS is the most accurate (10 feet or less is possible) followed by wifi geolocation (street/post code) with mobile network the least accurate (3/4 square mile).

    Hope this helps.

    spman likes this.
  6. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Does it mean that if I choose [High accuracy (uses gps, wifi and mobile networks to estimate your location)], the phone will first use the GPS function only? Only if the GPS function is not available (phone unable to see GPS satellites), then the phone will use the wifi and mobile networks (which will consume data). So if the area has GPS satellites that can "see" the phone, phone will not use wifi and mobile networks (and therefore no data consumed).
  7. tommo47

    tommo47 On Yer Bike, In Yer Chair
    VIP Member

    No, all three methods can be used concurrently and data will ONLY be used for mapping/navigation if the app you are using doesn't allow map downloading, apart from a very small amount of data IF AGPS is used.
    spman likes this.
  8. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    How to know if AGPS is used?
  9. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor

    I think you're a bit missing the point. In GPS only, sure you won't be using any mobile data to get a location. HOWEVER, mapping apps will need data to download the maps in the first place. If you have data turned off, if you open Google Maps, sure it will show your latitude and longitude, but it will just be a gray screen, no maps of roads and stuff, because data is off and Google Navigation and Maps needs to download their data from the internet.

    Basically, it doesn't matter what setting you use if you want to have Google Navigation active, because that app can't work without a data connection. You can use a different app that allows for offline Navigation, but I can't think of one that's not a paid service. So if you're going to use data anyway to have Google Navigation running, you're better off using High Accuracy because you won't be saving any data anyway.

    As for AGPS, it's not toggle-able I believe. As long as you have a data connection open, it will activate. If none, then it won't.
    spman likes this.
  10. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Extreme Android User

    GPS location only is why astronomy programs can function if you have absolutely no phone/data connection. All the apps need are coordinates. Same goes for some weather type apps.
    spman likes this.
  11. tommo47

    tommo47 On Yer Bike, In Yer Chair
    VIP Member

    You don't really need to know whether AGPS is being activated, if you are concerned about the mobile data usage either because you don't have a data allowance or you just don't want to use it, simply keep mobile data switched off. The main consequence of this is at the point of commencing navigation, which is what I'm assuming your original questions are related to, your GPS receiver will take a little longer to establish the first fix.

    When navigating either in the car or out walking you will be using GPS, and wifi/mobile network geolocation becomes irrelevant as, certainly from my own experience, it is not sufficiently accurate or reliable or even available!. I do a lot of hill walking and there is certainly no wifi available and very rarely mobile service, but GPS is accurate down to the width of a footpath - a matter of a few feet.

    If, for whatever reason, you don't want to consume mobile data whilst navigating, you cannot use Google Maps/Navigation and will have to use an app which allows map downloads onto your device which you will do by wifi in preparation for your intended navigation.

    There are a number of free navigation apps available and there are threads on this forum which may help you choose one, eg http://androidforums.com/android-ap...-gps-navigation-applications.html#post6328828, or simply check what is available in Play Store and try one or two.

    If you intend doing a lot of navigation you might want to consider a paid for app, in my experience you end up with a more usable and reliable application, again there is a variety of apps to choose from with a range of pricing.

    I use Navigate by Route66 for navigation by car - the app and maps are free to download and you purchase a 'licence' to navigate. It meets all my requirements and is easy to use.

    For hill walking I use OsmAnd which I find exceptionally useful for this particular activity, although it is a fully functioning navigation app. There is a free version limited to 10 map downloads or a paid for version (
    mikedt likes this.

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