Maps, GPS and sat nav


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GPS or global positioning systems

  • GPS pinpoints your location by connecting your phone with satellites orbiting the earth. Once it's done this, it shows you where you are on a map.
  • Some phones have A-GPS or Assisted GPS. These devices use mobile phone masts to get a quick (but slightly less accurate) idea of your location before the data from GPS satellites loads.
  • GPS is free - it doesn't use the web. But if your phone downloads maps from the internet to display your location, you might be charged. Talk to your network for more info.
  • To use GPS you need to buy a device with GPS built in - it's not something you can add afterwards.

Satellite navigation or sat nav

  • Sat nav on a phone works just like the sat nav in your car. It uses GPS to pinpoint your position and then plans a route to where you want to go. It tracks your location as you move and gives you directions when you get to turnings.
  • You need to pay a subscription for some sat nav programs - others such as Nokia's Ovi maps are free. You might also be charged for using the internet when you search for places using sat nav - talk to your network for more info.
  • Sat nav is only available on phones with GPS.


  • Lots of phones come with maps pre-installed. If they don't you can download map apps for free.
  • Most map apps let you plan routes for walking or driving, search for local landmarks like museums or restaurants and save your favourite locations so you can find them again quickly.
  • Maps are often free, but you might be charged for internet usage when you install or use them. Talk to your network for more info.

There are hundreds of free map apps. Here are a few of the most popular:

Google Maps Google Maps
The most popular free map app available on all the latest phones.
Ovi Maps Ovi Maps
Free sat nav app available on lots of Nokia phones.
BlackBerry Maps BlackBerry Maps
Free map app for BlackBerrys.
A-Z Maps A-Z Maps
Has the same maps you get in an A-Z. Available on iPhones and phones with a Windows Mobile or Symbian operating system.

What's the difference between GPRS and GPS?

GPRS is a way of connecting to the internet on your phone. It's got nothing to do with maps, but it often gets mixed-up with GPS. Find out more about GPRS on our mobile internet page.

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