Driving around Europe with an unlocked iphone?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Fledermaus, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. Fledermaus macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    The specific aim here is to use the unlocked iphone's Maps application to help navigate around the major cities by foot, and by car without having to sign long term contracts, or incur roaming charges. Clearly one can buy a sim card in each country visited, which will allow one to make phone calls without roaming charges, but is it possible to then use Maps within that country (possibly with additional charges)? I certainly would like to hear from anyone who has experience with this question.

    Finally has anyone experience with taking an unlocked iphone, e.g one from Italy, to the USA and attempted to employ its Maps application there, making use of a local sim card, presumably a pay-as-you-go AT&T one?
  2. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    To use maps you need data.
    If you buy local sims that include data then you should be able to load up maps on the go.
  3. ACDeag macrumors regular

    May 25, 2008
    Edinburgh, UK
    With the cost of Sim cards, topping them up etc. You are probably better off getting the Western Europe versions of Co-Pilot Live or TomTom from the App Store.
  4. mreddys10 macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2008
    I never quite understood this. Do those GPS apps (like tom tom, etc) require data connection as well? Because I thought the iPhone only had aGPS, not full GPS, and required a data connection to get the exact location.
  5. Stampyhead macrumors 68020


    Sep 3, 2004
    London, UK
    As far as I understand it aGPS is full GPS, it just has the addition of data at the beginning to assist the device in finding the satellite signal. It will still work without data, it just takes a bit longer for the signal to lock on. I'm in Bergen, Norway for a few days and I was able to use my TomTom Western Europe on my iPhone to find my way around.
    To the OP: You might also want to check out TruPhone Local Anywhere. It's a SIM card that you put into your unlocked phone that allows you phone and data access pretty much anywhere you go. The data access is a bit expensive at around $2.00 (£1.50) per Mb, but if you really need data access they provide it, and you don't have to purchase a new SIM card everywhere you go
  6. ThatsMeRight macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    The iPhone has assisted GPS. This is full GPS, which includes assistence of cell towers, wifi etc.

    GPS connection will be free and you will not be charged if you have GPS turned on, just like in the USA. Though you need an internet connection to load the maps application (for the image). As you can expect a internet connection will cost money.

    Additionaly you can download, for example, TomTom. The images are already inside the app, so it does not require a internet connection. With TomTom you can just use your GPS without spending money (except for the fact that you have to buy the TomTom app once).

    I wonder, where are you going? Western-Europe: The Netherlands (Amsterdam), Belgium (Brussels), France (Paris) or more to the east like Germany? :p
  7. -Leigh- macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2010
    Adelaide, Australia
    I recently did this when I went to Paris for a week.

    I downloaded a map of Paris from the App store to my phone. I then just used GPS to find my location on the map (which was already on my phone so no data connection needed).

    I think it used cell tower information to find me, but it was very accurate, and did not charge me at all. (I made sure data roaming was off)

    Maybe you can find maps for the cities you will be visiting?
  8. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    I read this so often...

    GPS takes a long time when you turn it on to find out where its satellites are. That's because it has no idea where it is itself, and it doesn't know the time. Assisted GPS makes a quick phone call and the nearest cell tower tells it roughly where it is within half a mile, and the time, so it knows roughly where it is and where the satellites are, and can find the satellites much quicker.

    But it works absolutely fine without phone connection, just takes a bit longer when it starts up. Once it is running, it doesn't use the phone connection at all. aGPS = Hundred percent full GPS, plus a neat trick to locate satellites quicker when starting.
  9. GfPQqmcRKUvP macrumors 68040


    Sep 29, 2005
    The O2 SIM card I used the summer before last had an extremely reasonable 10 pound unlimited data bolt-on. Life-saver.
  10. philstone macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2008
    Jersey, Channel Isles
    If you are going to France then I would recommend a Nav app - I was there for a couple of months at the end of last year and none of the carriers did PAYG (non contract) data... Spain is fine, Movistar definitely allow it.

    Not sure about any of the other mainland countries (obviously UK is fine)
  11. instaxgirl macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2009
    Edinburgh, UK
    Austria sucked for payg data when I lived there last year.

    I knew the location of every McDonalds in the city though - free wifi. I used to load up directions then go from there. There was a lot of wifi in shopping centres too, but I doubt they're a big part of your travel plans :eek:
  12. ACDeag macrumors regular

    May 25, 2008
    Edinburgh, UK
    The UK may not be typical of the rest of Europe, in Italy I believe you have to register your details before you can get a PAYG SIM.
  13. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    It has A-GPS but will fall back to normal GPS. The biggest problem on the iPhone is that the stock map apps won't wait long enough for lockon, which can take over ten minutes. Nav apps will, however.


    Google cell tower and Skyhook WiFi locating are not A-GPS, but alternative locating methods.

    Correct. It also often doesn't know the satellites' exact orbits. This info changes every few hours due to solar wind and other influences.

    Not quite a phone call. It accesses an assistance server over the data connection and passes the data cell id as an optional parameter. The assistance server returns satellite information and optionally a first guess at location from the cell id.

    Originally, assistance servers were part of the phone carrier system, as cell ids could change daily and so only the carrier could match tower id to location.

    Nowadays, GPS chip manufacturers often provide their own global assistance servers accessible to anyone with an internet connection. I believe in the iPhone's case, that Apple hosts their own, which is either a proxy to or copy of the chipmaker's server info.

    Yep. At least, in the case of the iPhone. A-GPS on dumbphones is often quite different, even up to letting the server do all the calculations for it.
  14. mreddys10 macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2008
    Thank you all for clearing it up. I could never find any reliable info about this anywhere.

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