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iPhone vs other smartphones - GPS





Tony The Tiger
How does the global positioning system (GPS) for the iPhone compare to that of other smart phones. I was talking to someone about their smartphone and they said they have GPS. I am wondering if the GPS on other phones is any better than the partially functional GPS of the iPhone which shows the moving dot, but which does not flash updated instructions (as I understand it). Do other phones have GPS systems that are more fully-functional and more comparable to dedicated GPS systems.
psycosquirrel
The 'GPS' on the iPhone operates on signal triangulation based on three cell phone towers. The GPS operates off of a signal from government GPS satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

I would guess the navigational system on a traditional GPS would be on the magnitude of 4-5 times more accurate than the iPhone. Plus, with a true GPS system, you will have GPS capabilities anywhere you can see the sky (and even many where you can't). On the other hand, to accurately calculate position with the iPhone, you need a strong cell phone signal from three towers simultaneously. That means, if there is any sort of an area with low signal strength, you're (possibly) without both phone and navigation!
ForceRun
That right on. As remember with a Cell Phone GPS (lets call it a Soft-GPS) you have to download all of the maps so you are looking at high date usage. I have my Blackjack II hacked to unlock the Soft-GPS (so I don't have to pay $10 a month) and I use Google Maps which rocks. But I do have to pay for my unlimited data. All together my phone bill is $75 a month.
Tony The Tiger
psycosquirrel wrote:
The 'GPS' on the iPhone operates on signal triangulation based on three cell phone towers. The GPS operates off of a signal from government GPS satellites in geosynchronous orbit.


I think my original question is whether other smart phones have GPS and how their GPS sophistication compares to the iPhones and traditional GPS. I thank you for helping me understand what the iPhone GPS system is, but it does not tell me how it compares to other smart phone GPS.
Tony The Tiger
ForceRun wrote:
That right on. As remember with a Cell Phone GPS (lets call it a Soft-GPS) you have to download all of the maps so you are looking at high date usage. I have my Blackjack II hacked to unlock the Soft-GPS (so I don't have to pay $10 a month) and I use Google Maps which rocks. But I do have to pay for my unlimited data. All together my phone bill is $75 a month.


Do all cell phones use soft GPS?
aningbo
there's one thing for sure. GPS in India means hell lot of money spent on it. the charges are high and its extremely slow.

wifi connected areas are okay though. India still needs the upgrade
Diablosblizz
The GPS on the iPhone is actually really neat. Funny thing though, the guy in the store showing it to me said there wasn't any maps. So I turned the iPhone around and said "Then what's this?"

Anyways, the GPS is awesome, although it doesn't have realtime directions. But, it's very useful in the same field, and it gives you a list.
psycosquirrel
Tony The Tiger wrote:
ForceRun wrote:
That right on. As remember with a Cell Phone GPS (lets call it a Soft-GPS) you have to download all of the maps so you are looking at high date usage. I have my Blackjack II hacked to unlock the Soft-GPS (so I don't have to pay $10 a month) and I use Google Maps which rocks. But I do have to pay for my unlimited data. All together my phone bill is $75 a month.


Do all cell phones use soft GPS?


Yes. All cell phones use soft GPS.

Therefore, the navigational system on the iPhone is by no means unique or spectacular.

Sorry for the confusion about your initial question.
Tony The Tiger
aningbo wrote:
there's one thing for sure. GPS in India means hell lot of money spent on it. the charges are high and its extremely slow.


Are there data usage fees associated with using GPS?
psycosquirrel
I was under the impression that there were not. I'm not sure how he came to that conclusion; the data transfer for GPS is extremely small, and is already being transferred for your basic signal to function.

I don't think you will get charged anything for it.
Tony The Tiger
psycosquirrel wrote:
I was under the impression that there were not. I'm not sure how he came to that conclusion; the data transfer for GPS is extremely small, and is already being transferred for your basic signal to function.

I don't think you will get charged anything for it.


O.K. but what are these new fee rates everyone is complaining about for the new iPhone?
psycosquirrel
With the newer iPhone, the phone is cheaper, but the plan costs more. I am not entirely familiar with it though.

Either way, the plan costs around $100, and you are locked in a two-year contract with an absurd termination fee...
Tony The Tiger
psycosquirrel wrote:
With the newer iPhone, the phone is cheaper, but the plan costs more. I am not entirely familiar with it though.

Either way, the plan costs around $100, and you are locked in a two-year contract with an absurd termination fee...


My question is whether the plan includes GPS data.
psycosquirrel
Yes.
swizzy
aningbo wrote:
there's one thing for sure. GPS in India means hell lot of money spent on it. the charges are high and its extremely slow.

wifi connected areas are okay though. India still needs the upgrade


does it even work in india... i managed to get GPS working on iphone only with wifi...
Tony The Tiger
I just saw as commercial for a U.S. Cellular cell phone contract with a LG UX 300 that has voice turn-by-turn GPS. Is this full blown GPS?
psycosquirrel
Google said it has A-GPS and S-GPS.

S-GPS is full-blown GPS, so yes, it does.
Tony The Tiger
I drove on a trip with someone who has a Motorola Q with voice turn-by-turn GPS. This GPS seemed quite slow to determine a set of directions compared to my mother's two-year old Tom Tom GPS device that I have used in the past. How advanced are smart phone turn-by-turn GPS algorythms? Is the technology comparable to dedicated devices?
psycosquirrel
Think of it this way...

A device that is a standalone device is designed for one purpose. It will do its purpose very well.

A device like the iPhone that combines devices has multiple purposes, but each will not be as good as a standalone unit.

You sacrifice convenience and a sleek package for performance.

I'm sure it will work fine, but it will definitely be slower and less accurate. Even if I had an iPhone, I would still buy a GPS for two reasons. Primarily, I would want more accuracy and the convenience of a dedicated unit. Secondarily, I would want to be able to navigate and be on the phone simultaneously.
Tony The Tiger
psycosquirrel wrote:
Think of it this way...

A device that is a standalone device is designed for one purpose. It will do its purpose very well.

A device like the iPhone that combines devices has multiple purposes, but each will not be as good as a standalone unit.

You sacrifice convenience and a sleek package for performance.

I'm sure it will work fine, but it will definitely be slower and less accurate. Even if I had an iPhone, I would still buy a GPS for two reasons. Primarily, I would want more accuracy and the convenience of a dedicated unit. Secondarily, I would want to be able to navigate and be on the phone simultaneously.


Are you saying that you believe you have to turn off or disconnect the GPS to use the phone on a PDA or iPhone or something like the Motorola Q that I saw last week? When you say the accuracy is a problem for non-standalone GPS devices what exactly do you mean. ?
AftershockVibe
I realise this isn't quite on thread as things have moved on a bit but I've just got a Samsung Omnia.

It has a built in GPS receiver but can also use phone masts to find your position faster/more accurately if you turn it on. It uses Google maps to provide the visuals, so if you are out in the middle of nowhere currently the GPS is useless.

However, by the looks of it with mapping software loaded straight onto the phone (they don't by default because it would use so much memory) it can just access the GPS hardware directly. It is seen internally by Windows Mobile as a device attached to a COM port.

I've not used it properly yet but the accuracy doesn't seem brilliant -it was out by a few streets.
However, GPS triangulation improves over time (in general) and I was indoors so the signal may have been qutie weak.
psycosquirrel
Tony The Tiger wrote:
Are you saying that you believe you have to turn off or disconnect the GPS to use the phone on a PDA or iPhone or something like the Motorola Q that I saw last week? When you say the accuracy is a problem for non-standalone GPS devices what exactly do you mean. ?


I am under the impression that you cannot simultaneously use the GPS and calling features on a phone simultaneously.

The GPS is integrated, so you can't disconnect it technically. It is simply software-disabled when you are not using it.

A phone's GPS antenna will be, at maximum, 1"x2". Probably much smaller, assuming it even uses S-GPS.

Tiny GPS units, like my Nuvi 205 have antennas the size of the unit, usually 3"x4" or so.

The antenna has (in this approximation) 6x more space to receive the signal on the standalone unit than on the phone.

This is assuming the phone even uses S-GPS at all. Most phones exclusively use A-GPS, through cellphone towers. The accuracy will be even less since it is dependent entirely on signal strength, which will vary greatly with temperature, humidity, and the landscape.

S-GPS (what the standalone units use) is received via a much stronger signal, that is less affected by weather, and unaffected by landscape.

Do as you wish, but like I have said many times before, NO PHONE WILL BE NEARLY AS ACCURATE, RELIABLE, OR FUNCTIONAL AS A STANDALONE GPS UNIT.

There is no comparison between the two in performance. Just as AftershockVibe said, phone GPS units are off by a few streets. Even a cheap unit like my $150 Nuvi 205 are accurate within a few feet.
Tony The Tiger
AftershockVibe wrote:
. . . I've just got a Samsung Omnia.

It has a built in GPS receiver but can also use phone masts to find your position faster/more accurately if you turn it on. It uses Google maps to provide the visuals, so if you are out in the middle of nowhere currently the GPS is useless.

I don't understand what you mean. Does a GPS receiver just work when you turn it on. Does it need the phone masts? It sounded for a second like you could either use the phone masts or the GPS receiver.

AftershockVibe wrote:
GPS triangulation improves over time (in general) and I was indoors so the signal may have been qutie weak.


Can you elaborate on this.
Tony The Tiger
psycosquirrel wrote:
Tony The Tiger wrote:
Are you saying that you believe you have to turn off or disconnect the GPS to use the phone on a PDA or iPhone or something like the Motorola Q that I saw last week? When you say the accuracy is a problem for non-standalone GPS devices what exactly do you mean. ?

The GPS is integrated, so you can't disconnect it technically. It is simply software-disabled when you are not using it.


I don't understand the second sentence here. Are you saying that cell phones, PDAs and smart devices can not multitask? I thought they had operating systems. Doesn't this mean you can toggle between software applications.
AftershockVibe
Quote:
I don't understand what you mean. Does a GPS receiver just work when you turn it on. Does it need the phone masts? It sounded for a second like you could either use the phone masts or the GPS receiver.


It doesn't need the phone masts but (using my phone's GPRS* data connection) it can use them to find your location more precisely and faster. My phone hasn't had my old number transferred to it yet so I haven't actually be carrying it around yet to test it much. As soon as that's done I'll report back.


*This isn't a typo in case you were wondering - GPRS is just a data connection for your phone. It's what it sends SMS, WAP and anything that isn't voice data over. I'm led to understand that EDGE is more commonplace in the US but I'd assume this would be fine for giving your GPS a hand too.
Tony The Tiger
AftershockVibe wrote:
Quote:
I don't understand what you mean. Does a GPS receiver just work when you turn it on. Does it need the phone masts? It sounded for a second like you could either use the phone masts or the GPS receiver.


GPRS is just a data connection for your phone. It's what it sends SMS, WAP and anything that isn't voice data over. I'm led to understand that EDGE is more commonplace in the US but I'd assume this would be fine for giving your GPS a hand too.


O.K. now you have lost me. Are these all common acronyms?
psycosquirrel
Tony The Tiger wrote:
AftershockVibe wrote:
. . . I've just got a Samsung Omnia.

It has a built in GPS receiver but can also use phone masts to find your position faster/more accurately if you turn it on. It uses Google maps to provide the visuals, so if you are out in the middle of nowhere currently the GPS is useless.

I don't understand what you mean. Does a GPS receiver just work when you turn it on. Does it need the phone masts? It sounded for a second like you could either use the phone masts or the GPS receiver.

AftershockVibe wrote:
GPS triangulation improves over time (in general) and I was indoors so the signal may have been qutie weak.


Can you elaborate on this.


There are two GPS types, as I have said before.

A-GPS uses cellphone towers to calculate position, and requires a very good cell phone signal to be useful at all.

S-GPS uses satellites and is extremely accurate, regardless of your location on the globe.

When he says GPS triangulation increases over time, he means over time after you initially turn on the GPS receiver. Whenever you use an A-GPS system, it will adapt based on your signal strength, and will get a little more accurate over the first few minutes of use, especially if you are moving, because the signal strength will vary by location.

No matter what though, you will be extremely inaccurate with this type of signal triangulation though - the A-GPS will get you to within 500 to 100 feet of your destination accurately, while the S-GPS will get you 50-10 feet (if not closer).


Tony The Tiger wrote:
psycosquirrel wrote:
Tony The Tiger wrote:
Are you saying that you believe you have to turn off or disconnect the GPS to use the phone on a PDA or iPhone or something like the Motorola Q that I saw last week? When you say the accuracy is a problem for non-standalone GPS devices what exactly do you mean. ?

The GPS is integrated, so you can't disconnect it technically. It is simply software-disabled when you are not using it.


I don't understand the second sentence here. Are you saying that cell phones, PDAs and smart devices can not multitask? I thought they had operating systems. Doesn't this mean you can toggle between software applications.


Just because phones have an OS does not mean you can multitask. An OS does not imply mutitaskability, it implies multiple-application functionality. This may mean that you can "toggle" between applications, but it does not mean that you can use more than one at once.

Tony The Tiger wrote:
AftershockVibe wrote:
Quote:
I don't understand what you mean. Does a GPS receiver just work when you turn it on. Does it need the phone masts? It sounded for a second like you could either use the phone masts or the GPS receiver.


GPRS is just a data connection for your phone. It's what it sends SMS, WAP and anything that isn't voice data over. I'm led to understand that EDGE is more commonplace in the US but I'd assume this would be fine for giving your GPS a hand too.


O.K. now you have lost me. Are these all common acronyms?

Yes.

SMS basic data, such as text messages and such. WAP is more complicated, for internet through cellular connections or email. Voice is on a separate connection type.

AftershockVibe is slightly confused on EDGE - it is essentially a compression protocol for GSM, the basic digital protocol for all cell phone signals, not the protocol itself.


Does that clear things up a bit?
aningbo
yeah GPS does work in india. google maps is available for free bt for about Rs 3,000.00 one can get a better map and always better navigation...
swizzy
aningbo wrote:
there's one thing for sure. GPS in India means hell lot of money spent on it. the charges are high and its extremely slow.

wifi connected areas are okay though. India still needs the upgrade


If you talking about maps from nokia and stuff, yea its expensive, but if you are hooked onto wifi and you are getting the maps on iphone, its just the data rate, no premium charges.


I think the thread starter wanted to ask about versatility of gps compared with a-gps, and we are just talking about cost Very Happy
Tony The Tiger
psycosquirrel wrote:
Does that clear things up a bit?


Sort of. However, I was riding with a person who has both a Garmin GPS system and an iPhone. He pointed out that he just downloaded Google Earth for his iPhone. I think google earth uses satellite info. Does this mean that the iPhone will soon be able to use the better GPS system?
psycosquirrel
Not exactly.

Well, not at all.

Your friend was basically saying that all the imagery from google maps were taken from satellite. The imagery really has nothing to do with the navigation.

Downloading Google Earth to the iPhone really does nothing to the comparison between the two devices.
ForceRun
Here is what I have set up:
Blackjack II with unlimited Data Plan , but no GPS plan.

I have the basic GPS hack (Little app that unlocks the gps features of the phone.)

I tried the AT&A software, but didn't like it. So I downloaded the Google map software. It works very well.

The cell phone works just fine with the program running and the gps turned on. It just eats my normally very good battery fast. I can still make call and receive calls while the maps runs in the background.

Yes the GPS uses little to none data, but Google Maps (or any other map program) uses a lot of data to download the Maps. Overall the gps is very accurate and it fast keeping up with the current location. The only problem is where there is spotty cell phone coverage, the gps is not very accurate at all.

But google maps is great for getting directions, and has quick search like all the others to find food and gas on the road.
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