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GPS without Data Connection

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by odojoe, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. odojoe

    odojoe Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Has someone traveled to the backwoods where there is no data connection and still been able to receive GPS directions?

    I would like to lose my Garmin for long cross country trips.

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  2. John Bean

    John Bean Happy Wanderer

    The GPS works fine without data connections, just like a dedicated GPS. If you want maps you'll need an app that uses maps stored on the phone, but if you just want position/speed/whatever data there are many good "GPS" apps in the market, often described as "GPS test" but most do far more than the name implies.

    I'm in the UK so my experiences (and apps) don't apply directly, but I have full detail OS maps (the definitive UK national maps) using Viewranger, and for quick GPS features I use GPS Test Plus.

    Viewranger may or may not be of use to you, but I'm sure there are other more US-centric equivalents. GPS Test Plus will of course work equally well anywhere in the world and a free version is also available - same name without the "Plus" :)

    Most places I walk have no phone signal let alone data and I no longer carry a dedicated GPS; the Nexus 4 is not only as good as my Garmin, it's actually significantly better at the job except for battery life. Turn on the GPS on the N4 only when actually needed otherwise it will kill the battery in a matter of hours.
    odojoe likes this.
  3. runtmms

    runtmms Well-Known Member

    I just used the copilot live app for a cross country drive where I sometimes had no data and sometimes no service. The GPS worked fine. The only problem I had with it is apparently I started an update that never finished so it really wanted to download/finish that with no signal (or 2g) anytime I started it up. That reminds me, I should go take care of that...
  4. odojoe

    odojoe Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I guess what I forgotten was that the Garmin had all the maps downloaded, that is why it worked. So theoretically with the maps downloaded, Nexus should be just as good as Garmin.
  5. Fhuron

    Fhuron Newbie

    I would normally think so, other than the experience I had this morning. I just got my N4 yesterday and haven't gotten it on any service yet, just messed around with wifi so far. I wanted to see temp/ Battery usage today so I decided to let it guide me to work this AM. GPS picked up great, routed to work and everything while I was still in my house. Not thinking, I closed the app down until I got out to my car and started it back up a bit down the road. GPS was NOT able to ever pick back up until I got to work and it picked up the wifi there. I will repeat the test tomorrow, this time leaving Nav up when I leave.
  6. John Bean

    John Bean Happy Wanderer

    Yes, that's right. I have been using my phone as a GPS for years - I had a Motorola Milestone before I bought the Nexus 4 - and I rarely use a data connection for mapping since I have better, more detailed maps stored on the phone anyway.

    The availability of a data connection - wifi or otherwise - shortens GPS acquisition time considerably, but without it the GPS will still lock - albeit after a delay caused by having to do a lot more searching for satellites.

    The slower GPS startup time when no data connection is present is much the same as using a dedicated GPS; it's not a defect but a "feature" of the way GPS works over which even Google has no control.
  7. jhsrennie

    jhsrennie Android Enthusiast

    I use Copilot, which works fine with no data connection.

    I have used the built in navigation with offline maps and no data connection, but I've found it can get confused about position. Last time I tried it the navigation showed me driving in the middle of a river :)
  8. SiempreTuna

    SiempreTuna Android Expert

    As mentioned above the GPS will work without a data connection however, it will take longer to establish an initial location and will be a little less accurate as it won't be able to use aGPS. Standard civilian GPS is accurate to 7m, 95% of the time (if memory serves). aGPS is better .. though I don't know by how much.

    If (like me) you're too tight to invest in navigation software with it's own maps, you can of course just download the section of Google maps for wherever you're going to be (I think there's a size limit of around 15 square miles per secton).

    You can also use Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation without a data connection, but this really doesn't work too well. When abroad, I have had maps work out my route using the hotel WiFI. I can then follow the route without a data connection, but it does go a bit pear shaped if (or rather, when) I've gone off route: routing will pick up again if you find your way back onto the route, it's just not too helpful doing that.

    What you can do is download the sections of Google map around the route as you then have some way of seeing where you are .. Problem is I haven't managed to switch between mapping and routing without losing the route .. which you can't get back without a data connection. Could just be me, but it is a bit pants, frankly.
  9. ooberandy

    ooberandy Android Enthusiast

    Google maps has an offline function. It allows you to pre download the area you want. I've used this several times in the UK (downloaded over wifi first) then get full use of the gps on the map.

    It wont do travel directions though, as this needs a data connection

    EDIT: oops, didnt read siempretuna's post. He's right, in that you can also pre do the directions :)
  10. John Bean

    John Bean Happy Wanderer

    Like most things in this world you tend to get what you pay for.

    Google Maps is a terrific bit of free software but it's an online app at heart; they may have glued bits onto it to offer some sort of offline use but... Well, you said it all, really.
  11. john30308

    john30308 Well-Known Member

    I've used the offline function of Google Maps with GPS and no data before when traveling overseas and it worked great for getting around.
  12. Fhuron

    Fhuron Newbie

    Worked just fine this morning. I made sure to start the Nav when I still had wifi, had zero issues with the GPS this time. Only thing that I didn't get was any ETA updates for increasing traffic since I believe that comes from Google over the web.
  13. SiempreTuna

    SiempreTuna Android Expert


    I think Maps is fantastic, but like you say, it is free and you can't really complain about limited functionality, particularly when it's not being used as intended.

    Having said that, it would be nice if the navigation part didn't insist on re-calculating the route pretty much every time you switch out of it and back: sometimes you just don't have a signal which can leave you very much in the lurch. Somewhat ironically, app switching and navigation works better on my missus iPhone 5 than it does on my Nexus 4 :eek: .. not that I'd ever admit that to her, of course ;)

    As it happens, I have an old N95 with Route66 which I have taken with me when travelling in the past .. but the last couple of trips, I forgot. Besides, the maps are getting way out of date and frankly weren't that great for the rest of Europe in the first place ;)
  14. jhonb

    jhonb Android Enthusiast

    It will be fine getting you from point a to point be, but loose data and your search functions won't work.. Gas stations, food, etc.

    I use my Nex 10 to navigate all the time and that is a wifi only device. I will tether it to my nex 4 if I need search functions.
  15. Harry2

    Harry2 Extreme Android User

    I use Google Maps with its great search and navigation ability ... when a data connection is available or if there isn't any danger of data roaming ;)

    On areas without data connection (I know a lot of them) I use OsmAnd with its offline maps (contour lines and hill shading), its offline search and its offline routing/navigation.
    Not as good as Maps ... but better as Maps when Maps hasn't a data connection ;)

    SiempreTuna likes this.
  16. bob60626

    bob60626 Android Enthusiast

    I like the skobbler app for GPS without data connection.
  17. SiempreTuna

    SiempreTuna Android Expert

    I'd never heard of Osmand or Skobbler - definitely going to check 'em out!

Nexus 4 Forum

The Nexus 4 release date was November 2012. Features and Specs include a 4.7" inch screen, 8MP camera, 2GB RAM, Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, and 2100mAh battery.

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