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Group test: 8 satnavs and GPS smartphones reviewed

The 8 best satnavs and GPS-enabled mobile phones

Whether you want a faster, less stressful way of getting from place to place or some guidance while expanding your horizons, you're spoilt for choice on the navigation front. PC Advisor tests eight GPS devices.

Apple iPhone apps

The Apple iPhone doesn’t do satellite navigation as such – it offers Google Maps but not real-time turn-by-turn navigation. This is because Apple’s Google Maps licence doesn’t currently allow for turn-by-turn navigation.

The handset is location-aware (take a photo and it will ask your permission to geo-tag the shot) and has an accelerometer that knows the angle it’s at.

We’re eager to learn how much the likes of TomTom, Garmin and others will charge for their satnav apps via the iPhone App Store. Of the 20 or 30 GPS apps already available for the iPhone, some basically take advantage of the magnetometer in the handset and let you tilt the screen to various effects – a flight sim game, for example. However, there are also some good-looking mapping apps for those with the tendency to get lost. Here’s one we really like.

GPS Trails

GPS Trails on the iPhone caught our eye and was recommended by several iPhone-owning friends. It’s able to show you your current location and where you’ve been, but is also able to log and export that information so it can be plotted on a PC or Mac.

Similarly, it can be used to import routes and can even tag photos so you can log where they were taken (although the Apple iPhone 3GS itself can now do this, after a fashion).

What’s more, one reviewer found it noticeably more accurate than a standalone satnav device in terms of pinpointing where you’ve been. It works as a timekeeper too: add a route and set off and it will begin timing you as well as showing the distance you’ve been. Waypoints, elevations and pace are all logged along with the start and finish time – great if you need to work out a more efficient time of day to travel by bike or foot.

Verdict: GPS Trails shows what’s possible with GPS and the iPhone. It’s a rock-solid, supremely crafted app with detail aplenty, but it still maintains the clean interface for which the iPhone is famous.

Given the size of the screen and the volume that the 3G version of the iPhone kicks out, we don’t think you’ll have trouble making out which direction your future satnav is telling you to take, either.

Index:

  1. The 8 best satnavs and GPS-enabled mobile phones
  2. Satnavs: no substitute for common sense
  3. Group test: personal navigation device reviews
  4. Group test: GPS-enabled smartphone reviews
  5. BlackBerry navigation app
  6. Desktop navigation app
  7. Navigating with your iPhone
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