iPhone 3GS GPS Abroad and Inflight

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by puercaeli, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. puercaeli macrumors regular

    May 10, 2008
    I realise there has been a discussion on this issue ad nauseam already.
    However, none of them seems to address my concern.

    I like to know if anyone got iPhone GPS to work on the

    a)overseas without cell phone signals
    b)in flight like at cruising altitude(and dont even mention about regulations... GPS has minisimal effect on the avionics)

    I tried many things including switching on and off etc. to make it work. So far it's not working but I have made few interesting observations.

    a)no matter how much direct line-of-sight, it does not work even with WIFI
    b)looking at compass app or G-Spot, iPhone seems to have picked up a possible lat and longitude(despite being inaccurate). STILL, this info CANNOT be used on Google Maps, Geo tagging or other map application.
    c)Motion-X GPS Lite reports 'No satellite signal' (despite the potential lat and longitude showing up in the compass app(may be it was from wifi)
  2. progressoverdue macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2008
    I'm in Germany right now with a 3GS. I get really good GPS performance when connected to WIFI here. I'm contemplating unlocking the phone and getting a European sim card with data. Will report back if I get that to work.
  3. 1Zach1 macrumors 65816


    Feb 8, 2008
    Northern Va
    I don't believe it's possible to turn the GPS on separately when in Airplane mode (like you can with Wifi) so it could be used in a plane. If it is possible to turn on the GPS, you will need to either have a program that keeps it's maps loaded on the iPhone or have an internet connection through wifi to load the Maps application.
  4. byulasfjazz macrumors regular


    Jul 5, 2009
    this topic is interesting

    I actually have a question... last week I was camping and went into a canyon... didnt have reception all weekend... at the top it actually said "no service" I couldnt connect to anything internet... facebook..mlb.. or even make a call.... but the GPS was working... the map would not update... but the dot still followed me around (on the previous loaded map before i lost reception).... so everywhere I went the dot followed my turns.. off the loaded map and then back onto it....

    Someone fill me in on how this works..
  5. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    If you have trouble getting a good lock in a building - what's to say that when you're surrounded by metal, sheilding, electronics, etc in an airplane that you'll get a strong enough signal to and from the satellites even if you could turn on your data?
  6. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    Of course it is possible. Just turn on location services when in airplane mode. Then you can go into third party app that has maps loaded and you'll see your location. In google maps, you'll see your location, but won't have any new maps, since you're in airplane mode and you need an internet connection to load maps.

    See my response to 1Zach. Reception is for the GPRS/EDGE/3G. You don't need any of that for GPS. However, having EDGE/3G helps speed up finding your location, due to triangulating. Again, for maps, you need an internet connection in Google Maps to load maps, as I said in the 1Zach response.
  7. SeanMcC macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2009
    Test it before takeoff when you're still on the ground and have a data connection too.
  8. STEVESKI07 macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    Washington, DC
    The GPS doesn't run off of internet/phone/etc. It is a GPS, just like a GPS in a car would work, no need for internet or phone line, just clear vision of a satellite. The maps didnt change because our maps are not loaded on our device and therefore are loaded dynamically over the internet.
  9. mappyman macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2008
    We need an app to allow us to cache google maps.

    I know the PSP can do it.
  10. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    The GPS signal is being received separately from your cell phone and WiFi signals. They are coming directly from GPS satellites in space. No, seriously, that's how it works.

    Usually, cell phone and WiFi signals are used to augment the GPS reception and get a faster lock. However in your case, you were in a canyon with no cell service or WiFi, but you had enough visibility of the sky to get an accurate GPS track.
  11. deannnnn macrumors 68000


    Jun 4, 2007
    New York City & South Florida
    I've tried it on a flight from JFK to FLL.
    The phone did place me somewhere, but then gave me an error because it was unable to load Google maps.

    I always fly jetBlue (price, convenience, trueblue points) and am so jealous of people on AirTran or Virgin America with WiFi on board!
  12. iUser4Lyfe macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2009
    What actually happens if you turn on 3G while in flight? Fes it really screw up avionics? I have heard that this is mostly an airline ploy to get you to use their pay per minute phone service while in flight. Is this accurate?
  13. deannnnn macrumors 68000


    Jun 4, 2007
    New York City & South Florida
    Nothing happens if you turn on your phone during flight.... but you can't get an AT&T signal at 30,000 feet.
  14. puercaeli thread starter macrumors regular

    May 10, 2008
    Found solution


    My blog kind of screwed the paragraphing up so excuse me for that.

    For GPS to work abroad... you need to turn 3G off and leave the cell signal on.
    But this does not seem to work still on the plane. This seems to be related to the speed issue potentially. However, I did manage to get a signal once on the plane in Korea but was unable to later on same flight. (regardless of the weather condition).

    as for the airline requirement for turning cell phone off. Few articles I have read stated that many could not found the interference in the controlled study environment. But there has been few episodes where it did affect the AVIONICS. Even then it probably only affects older planes(i.e. built before 80s). So overall, it is not entirely a ploy by airlines to make u use the satelite phone ... Profit from operating such service(if they make any...that is) would be added benefit on top of safety...

    FYI, Air France and Emirates are testing out cell in air service. I believe Qantas is doing same on few B767s as well... I think the main issue has moved on to how to deal with noise made from those on the phone rather than interference.

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