Top 3 GPS Smartphones
28 Feb 2012 Jason 2
In our last post we talked about the benefits of using GPS when traveling overseas. Most tourists would agree that once you’ve used GPS to help you get around, discover local attractions, or find your way out of trouble, you’ll never go back. Today, more than ever, GPS is becoming tightly integrated with how many of us find our way around, do business or learn about our surroundings.
So how can you make the most of GPS? It’s free, it’s very useful, and it’s everywhere (except underwater or in a concrete bunker!). Previously only available with dedicated GPS devices, modern smartphones have put the power of GPS into the hands of just about everyone. And, with a proliferation of GPS-enabled smartphones available, software developers are not wasting any time building apps to take advantage of GPS, offering a growing range of solutions that offer ‘near-me’ services.
Top 3 GPS Smartphones
Even lower-end smartphones are now coming equipped with GPS but it’s worth noting that GPS hardware is not created equally. Some devices are slow to find a signal (especially if they don’t have A-GPS) while others struggle with low signals, a problem under certain conditions where clear line of sight isn’t available to at least three or more satellites.
Other issues that can affect how well the GPS performs on your smartphone include screen size (too small to be usable) and how well the touchscreen responds to gestures (vital for panning and zooming on maps).
Some phones also use other positioning Wifi location or using cellphone towers to triangulate your location, however this is generally only done if a GPS signal is unavailable, as GPS will offer the most accurate positioning.
While these are our top three GPS smartphones we do recommend if you’re buying that you try it out first. To test any GPS functionality you’ll need to take it outside and allow a few minutes for the phone to locate a signal, which means you may be required to leave some type of bond with the sales assistant so they know you’re coming back!
Apple is no slouch in making good use of GPS functionality. In fact they’ve taken it a step further with the iPhone 4S offering a “personal assistant” in the form of Siri to make finding your way to your next destination a hands-free experience.
- Find my friends – Using its iCloud service you can use your iPhone to track your friends; ideal for meetups. Of course they’ll also need an iPhone and be signed up to the iCloud service.
- Siri – Simply speak your location requests for instant results e.g. where’s the nearest ATM, take me home, take me to the Eiffel Tower
- GLONASS – Not only do you get the American-owned GPS system but you also get assistance from Russian controlled GLONASS satellites (how’s that for post-Cold War cooperation?). This means you have a higher chance of getting a good location signal and faster service.
Running Windows Mobile, the HTC Titan has a good reputation for fast GPS performance and a good selection of premium map and navigation apps.
- Large screen – One of the largest on the market at 4.7” the HTC Titan makes it easier to browse, pan, and zoom maps with its massive touch screen.
- Powerful processor – Running a grunty 1.5GHz second-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon chip the HTC Titan can process map detail without much effort and good response times.
- Good battery life – Using your GPS will impact on battery life so it’s good to know the HTC Titan’s 1600mAh battery offers longer lasting performance.
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
While it seems the current smartphone race is all about Samsung and Apple, when it comes to GPS that’s not necessarily the case. Samsung has been hit with reports of GPS issues affecting the Galaxy (although apparently there are updates to fix this) so it may not be the ideal choice for users looking for the best GPS solution.
- Sharp map detail – With its Super AMOLED display, the Droid offers sharp, crystal-clear display and high map definition. This is perfect for seeing map detail clearly, particularly at high zoom levels or viewing satellite imagery.
- Long-lasting battery – Like the HTC Titan, the Droid has one of the best batteries on the market right now. This is a valuable feature; nothing worse for a traveler than their GPS device running out of battery life partway to your destination.
- Rugged construction – Built partly with Kevlar, the Droid is literally bullet-proof, ideal for outdoor use and situations where GPS is being used in demanding environments.
For all phones, a cradle is recommended when the GPS navigation is being used in a car. Recent versions of the navigation software for Android and iOS also offer voice command – perfect for hands-free operation while driving.
What GPS apps should I get?
How well your GPS smartphone performs may also have to do with the particular mapping apps that you use. Obviously depending on what type of phone you get will limit the apps you can choose from but the two main app markets (iPhone and Android) offer a huge variety of different GPS apps that are valuable to both the traveler and everyday use.
Next post we take some time to review the best GPS apps available for today’s smartphones. Stay tuned – sign-up to our blog feed and get it as soon as it’s posted!
Categories: Consumer GPS