The mobile world is stumped: How does GPS work on phones?

This is an update seeing as no one can answer what we put to you a while back, remember we published something we titled “Cell Phones: How can you tell if GPS is network dependent or totally stand alone? (See Here), well it seems the mobile world is stumped, including us.

We has another email sent in to us from one of our readers called Brian, he said this “Hi Mark, looks like I have stumped the world. Nobody seems to know how the GPSs work on these new phones or how to tell if they work independent of the network or require constant data transfers (big $$ in Canada) just to figure out where they are. I have asked Samsung 3 times and all they can say is ‘talk to your service provider’ – not a good sign for the i900. Maybe you have contacts in these companies and can get some real answers. It would be a great article in your newsletter. Will the GPS work at the cottage where there is no cell signal? Will it work in a foreign country without roaming charges? Can a user tell it to work without accessing the network when they have a good signal? That sort of thing.

Thank you for posting my question in your letter, but not a single nibble. Interesting, eh?

Obviously we are busy little bees but we did try and find out, and you guessed it we got stumped as well. If anyone can answer the above for us that would be fantastic. Have you got what it takes to put Brian’s mind at rest, oh and of course we want to know as well.

Please post all answers in the comments area below.


5 thoughts on “The mobile world is stumped: How does GPS work on phones?”

  1. MARTIN says:

    Hi, it is a pleasure to make a comment about your review. Yes, ny doubt is the same, if the GPS devide on the cell phone can work independenly from the service provider, this is, that GPS can work even without phone signal, just catching satellite signal to indicate the numerical coordinates of a place location.
    If you find out somethinh please share with us.

  2. Hi,,

    Try gps while on ‘inflight mode’. If it works then it means gps can work stand alone.

    The problem is cellphone gps antennas aren’t really powerfull. Gps needs 4 satellite signals to pinpoint location. Once location is pinpointed, then it can manage with 3 or even 2 signals. As cellphone gps antennas are weak, its assisted by accessing information via gprs or 3g. Ie y most of them are called A GPS

    The biggest problem I have found in cellphone gps is the initial load time for locating current location, it keeps waiting for satellite signals

    gprs data is also required for loading maps, or on pre loaded maps, its used for search n updates etc.

    Hope this helps. I m not an expert, so what I have said above may not be fully correct.

  3. I tried it on my e71 and it works perfectly. Only catch being weaker signals meaning a dip in accuracy. The nav girl asks me to take the left after I taking the left.

    Oh I remember, my dad brought a GPS for his deep sea trawler for rs. 40000 , ie around a 700 dollars, way back in 1999. And now, u get the same thing on cellphones.

    Y is it that technology has brought in ever dipping prices for electronics only? Y not cars or food?

    Aron, http://Www.proTLH.com
    Wish google and yahoo starts making cars n tvs, I will happily take their free car with unlimited fuel, I won’t mind the few advrts on the sides or even seats!

  4. pradeep j says:

    They make use of the cells ,thr principle of which is the same as gps satellites.
    Anyway. How can a mobile phone with a 5V battery communicate with a satellite really far away?

    1. Alex says:

      GPS devices only recieve GPS signals, so to say they communicate is a falacy they don't. They recieve two signals per satelite, in the L band (geek moment). The satelites use atomic clocks, and know there exact posistion above the earth ( there will be about 6 in view at any one time) they transmit there identity and time codes, your device will work out using codes, where those satelites are, therefore it will know its own lat long and height. This is why if you turn your device off move a good distance it will take a while for the device to calculate its posistion. Cold start. Hopes this helps

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