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GPS Fix - Dummies Guide

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by ironass, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    One of the features of the Samsung Galaxy S4, GT-i9505, quad core phone that I use a lot is GPS and Google Maps. Both for work and play. In fact, I've been using phone based GPS since my Nokia N80 days, some 7 years ago.

    However, the GPS and Google Maps on my Galaxy S4 in the UK knocks spots off of anything I've tried before, including my previous phone, the Galaxy S2.

    The S4 can pick up around 25 satellites very quickly and offers me a fix of within 3m, (9.84ft), in around 10 sec's or so on a clear day, outdoors. This compares to the Galaxy S2 which would pick up about 12 satellites and take slightly longer for a fix.

    In fact, so good is the S4 with GPS that I have abandoned using dedicated GPS equipment.

    In my own home the GPS can even detect the part of the house I am in with a slightly longer fix time.

    For anyone who is experiencing GPS location and/or fix time problems, there are a couple of things that you can do which may help... although it will not fix a broken/damaged GPS antenna or improve your GPS if your government offers a degraded or non existent service.

    1. On your phone go to Settings > More > Location services and ensure that Access to my location is set to ON and that Use GPS satellites and Wi-Fi & mobile network are both checked. In Google Maps, go to Menu > Settings > Google location settings and ensure that Access location is checked.

    2. Download GPS Status & Toolbox, free from the Play Store. There is a paid version but the free one will suffice.

    3. In GPS Status & Toolbox, go to Menu > Settings > GPS & Sensors > Auto-download AGPS data and choose how often you wish AGPS to be updated. I use once a day. You may decide more or less. Also Sensor filtering. I have mine set to weak but you can experiment. A stronger filter increases the GPS fix time a bit.

    4. Other settings you can choose to suit yourself and your location, such as meters/feet, miles/kilometers, etc: Unrooted users - go to #6

    5. For rooted users only. (Not necessary) Download FasterGPS, free from the Play Store and select your location. This now tells your GPS to use a local location service which can speed up your fix time. See Hawker's post, #6, below for more information.

    6. Now take your phone outside, away from buildings if possible and with a clear view of the sky. Open GPS Status & Tools > Menu > Tools and select both Compass calibration and Calibrate pitch and roll and follow the instructions for calibration.

    7. Now, still outdoors, put your phone into Flight Mode so that the phone is only using its internal GPS for a fix and go to Menu > Tools Manage A-GPS state > Reset and then leave it for around 20 minutes on a flat surface.

    8. After around 20 minutes, very carefully, turn Flight Mode off and in Menu > Tools > Manage A-GPS state > Download

    9. Now either, rotate the phone a couple of times through its three axis or do some figures of 8 with the phone.

    10. Go to Google Maps in Satellite mode and see how quickly you get an accurate fix.

    Because I am a heavy GPS user, I tend to do this once every month or two but for most peoples uses, once every three or four months should suffice, if that.

    Below is a screenshot of Google Maps in Satellite mode showing a local Ordanance Survey, "Trig Point". To show the plinth the trig point was on, I had to move slightly sideways as the blue location dot was covering it completely. This was with no Wi-Fi and on EDGE.


    This is a screenshot, taken at the same time, of GPS Status & Toolbox's, (Pro), readout showing a lock on 25 out of 26 satellites and a margin of error of around 3m/10ft, in fact it was so spot on I had to move to show the white plinth.


    Since all the apps I have mentioned are free, you have nothing to lose by trying it. Hope it helps!

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  2. kenfb1

    kenfb1 Member

    Took your suggestions and followed your instructions.
    Can't verify if it's better or not but I guess it can't
    hurt either. Thanks for your time to post this,
  3. Harry2

    Harry2 Extreme Android User

    Thanks for your GPS tip :)

    As far as I know the S4 uses GPS and GLONASS for calculation the position.
    This could be the reason that the S4 sees twice as many satellites as the S2.

    EarlyMon likes this.
  4. speedlever

    speedlever Android Enthusiast

    I also have the GPS app mentioned above. I have not done the calibration routines, but my indicated error also shows 10ft. And that's inside after enabling the app and taking just seconds to lock in and max the accuracy.

    I find the GPS receiver on the GS4 to be incredibly sensitive... at least as compared to others I've had in the past.

    electricpete and EarlyMon like this.
  5. Shocky

    Shocky Android Expert

    GPS has been good since the Galaxy S2 but it's GLONASS that really made the difference.

    GLONASS was added in the Galaxy S3.
  6. Hawker

    Hawker Android Expert

    I too have been finding my GT-9505 (UK) very good with regards to GPS, both indoors and out.

    On my S2, I would be lucky (and I mean LUCKY) to get a solid fix on between 6 and 9 satellites. Indoors, I would hardly ever get a fix at all.

    On the S4, I regularly get a good fix on anything up to 20+ satellites in 5-10 seconds.

    One addition to ironass' great post here however, is instead of fasterfix, I use Faster GPS. This, like fasterfix, allows you to specify your NTP server, but it also gives you the ability to edit your gps.conf in any way you see fit (easier than manual edits).
    For example, in advanced settings, there is an ENABLE_WIPER option, that is defaulted to 0. Set this to 1 to enable wifi positioning
    Also, set DEFAULT_AGPS_ENABLE=TRUE (not set by default)

    both can help speeding up your fix even further.
    EarlyMon and ironass like this.
  7. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Cheers Hawker!

    Have revised post #1 to include this app as it offers greater configuration and speed for rooted users. :thumb:
  8. joesixpack

    joesixpack Android Enthusiast

    Those were some good tips. Thanks for the post! My S4 works good, but the wife's S3 has been spotty at times. I'll try some of these out the next time she has problems.
  9. hanna211

    hanna211 Newbie

    i opened up gps.conf and seen the line


    can i add many as i can ????? example


    off course different coutries etc
  10. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    That is to receive GPS timing information for positioning. You only need to select the one closest to you to speed up the process.

    E.g. United Kingdom = either...

    See item #5 in post #1 and also. post #6.
  11. koutheir

    koutheir Lurker


    First of all, I need to say I searched for weeks to solve this issue. I found no other way than posting a question. I hope someone could help me solve it. I checked the logs using "aLogcat" but nothing is relevant to the GPS. Any kind of help is welcome, I am not asking for a full step-by-step guide :)

    * Issue: GPS cannot find my location, even when kept for long periods under clear sky (20 minutes). I tried "Faster GPS" and "GPS Status" apps to debug the thing, but useless. I simply can't get a fix.

    * Infos:
    Device: SGH-I337M
    OS: Android 4.4.2 (Samsung Stock ROM)
    Baseband: I337MVLUFNE1
    Kernel: 3.4.0-1529758
    Build: KOT49H.I337MVLUFNE1
    Location: France

    * /etc/gps.conf
    NTP_SERVER=fr (dot) pool (dot) ntp (dot) org
    XTRA_SERVER_1=(a link to xtra1 (dot) gpsonextra (dot) net (slash) xtra2.bin
    XTRA_SERVER_2=(a link to xtra2 (dot) gpsonextra (dot) net (slash) xtra2.bin
    XTRA_SERVER_3=(a link to xtra3 (dot) gpsonextra (dot) net (slash) xtra2.bin

    Thank you :)
  12. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Hello and welcome to Android Forums koutheir! :)

    Sorry to see that you are having problems with your GPS fix.

    I see that you are in France and have the Samsung Galaxy S4, Black Edition, SGH-I337M minority variant which is primarily for use on the Canadian networks such as Bell, Rogers, Telus, SaskTel, Fido, etc: Whether this has a bearing on your GPS issue, I cannot say as I have the worldwide, GT-i9505 which is marketed for the European networks.

    I notice that you have GPS Status and Toolbox installed and wonder how many satellites you are getting a fix on outdoors?
  13. koutheir

    koutheir Lurker

    Yes you are almost right (except that my phone is white). I have no problem to install the international version of Android for GT-i9505 (kernel and system, at least). I tried doing that (I installed CyanogenMod) but it did not solve the issue, and that is the only reason I still tolerate the bloatware of Samsung. I am trying to find possible ways to debug the issue, logs, config files, just any possible trace...

    By the way, I am getting zero GPS fixes outdoor.

    Thank you for your warm welcome :)
  14. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    I would strongly suggest that in light of the above that you take your phone to the nearest Samsung Service Point and ask them to check out your GPS antenna as it seems as though your problem is hardware related if you cannot at least see 1 satellite.
  15. koutheir

    koutheir Lurker

    I know that is possible, but I am trying to keep that as a last resort, so I will keep searching for a software solution for a moment...
  16. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Good luck with that idea but as per #7 in post #1, you should be able to pick up satellites and get a GPS fix with no data or Wi-Fi enabled in Flight Mode.
  17. koutheir

    koutheir Lurker

    Yes, I tried that for 20 minutes (while resetting AGPS data), and I got zero satellites :-(
  18. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Which is precisely what you would get with a damaged/broken GPS antenna. ;)
  19. koutheir

    koutheir Lurker

    I finally resolved my issue :)

    Current situation: GPS fixes 8 satellites out of 25 even between high buildings.

    Short solution: set the right CSC for your device.
    Advice: Always set the right CSC for your device, even if you happen to mess with it (which is arguably your own right as you own the device...).

    Long solution:
    - Backup your data and your apps. During the procedure, the device !!!WILL PERFORM A FACTORY RESET!!!
    - Root your device.
    - Open a terminal emulator on the device.
    - Type the following commands (let the terminal application gain root access when you get prompted):
    $ su
    # am start -a android.intent.action.MAIN -n com.sec.android.Preconfig/com.sec.android.Preconfig.Preconfig
    - You will get a window with a list of CSC codes. Select the one corresponding to your device and stock firmware, and push the button INSTALL.
    - The device will reboot, and !!!WILL PERFORM A FACTORY RESET!!!
    - That's all folks.
    - (Now go mess up things again, and again...)
    EarlyMon likes this.
  20. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Why would your CSC code have changed if you are running stock firmware for your model of phone? :thinking:

  21. koutheir

    koutheir Lurker

    Because I played with the phone many times ;-) I installed all sorts of firmwares on it (from other countries,...). I am sure that one of those numerous flashes changed my CSC...
  22. deltaforce

    deltaforce Android Enthusiast

    A quick question,
    Do these instructions apply to Google Play Edition phone as well (because I don't see the no. 1 i.e. Location Services in my settings).
  23. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    The guide was not written for the GT-i9505G, Google Play Edition, which runs a separate, pure Nexus, firmware as opposed to the Samsung TouchWiz firmware.

    You should, in your phone's Settings, find, "Location", in the list and you should ensure that this is set to, "On", and, "High accuracy". This is the same as the Google Maps pathway.
    deltaforce likes this.
  24. aerismel

    aerismel Lurker

    Hello, thanks for this guide!! I have followed it and got a slightly better gps signal. But I still have a problem.

    I have NO PROBLEM getting my accurate location within 1-5 seconds when sharing location on whatsapp/telegram or other apps. Even opening Google Maps or Waze, they also detect my location very very fast. I'm taking less than 5 seconds and it's very accurate.

    The problem comes when I try to NAVIGATE with Waze or Google Maps. This is when I'm outdoors in my car of course. My phone doesn't get a GPS signal. It takes a very very long time, sometimes 10 minutes to get a lock on. The funny thing is that when I followed this guide and I put the airplane mode on, the apps got a lockon on the GPS, but as soon as the airplane mode was off they lost GPS signal and had a problem locking on.

    I have the GPS TOOL app installed and outside I get a lockon of about 10-15 satellites of 22 but it doesn't happen instantly. It takes from 10 to 60 seconds to get a lockon. But that is not even the problem. I could live with that, but the real issue is that the signal comes and goes. So sometimes the apps have a lockon for 1 minute and then they lose it for 3 minutes and again and again.

    When I'm indoors it takes about 30 minutes to get a lockon on but I get from 1 to up to 6 satellites even though my apartment is the one on the top. There are no other apartments above it so I should have a bit more of a chance to get a signal. But it barely connects and sometimes never. The issue is the same. It may connect sometimes but it loses signal. 1 minute it remains connected and them loses it for 5 minutes and so on.

    I attached some screenshots of how waze never has a GPS connection (unless I turn airplane mode on. I'll test this later on the road trying to get some place and I'll update if this really makes the GPS lockon but it's not ideal to have to use airplane mode to get a lock on GPS but not have internet for anyethign else). I have also attached the specifications of my phone. I hope you can help me out. It's a samsung galaxy s5 mini. And mainly I want to know if this could be because of the KITKAT firmware because I have read that many phones have GPS problems now, or if this could actually be a problem with my phone. I hope not becuase it's a new phone. I have one month with it and I'm in Mexico.


    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg
  25. ironass

    ironass Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    I am afraid I cannot comment on the Galaxy S4 Mini as I have no experience of it. I do notice that there is a new update for your model of phone being rolled out but I do not see this as being the issue. A couple of things may help... if you are using a case, particularly one with a magnetic clip fastening, then remove it. Also, if you are using any task killers such as Llama, it might be worth turning those off to see if they make a difference. In fact, try turning everything off except GPS Tools and Maps in case another app is interfering with your lock.

    Since your problem seems to be when you are driving, you could try installing the recently released, Nokia, "Here", maps, free from the Play Store, and download your country to the memory card. As for getting a fix indoors, it depends on how much steel and concrete are above and around you.
    aerismel likes this.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Forum

The Samsung Galaxy S4 release date was April 2013. Features and Specs include a 5.0" inch screen, 13MP camera, 2GB RAM, Exynos 5410 Octa processor, and 2600mAh battery.

April 2013
Release Date
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