Is the iPhone 4's GPS supposed to be this crappy?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by LincolnsiPod, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. LincolnsiPod macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Prior to getting an iPhone 4 I used to use a iPod Touch with a GPS cradle snapped on to give it GPS capabilities. Once in a while it would lose the GPS signal, but it was rare and certainly wasn't frequent enough to annoy me.

    Since getting the iPhone 4 I noticed the GPS accuracy tends to fluctuate more wildly, I assume because the iPhone is doing this in real time, while the old GPS cradle I used did updates less frequently.

    But yesterday and today it went to absolute crap. I've been in Austin, Texas, traveled 200 miles to Dallas, and whether it was a blue sky or cloudy, this damned thing could not keep a lock it seems for more than 10 seconds before losing the GPS signal completely, then regaining it 10 seconds, later, only to lose it again, cycle, rinse, repeat. Its accuracy went anywhere from 5 meters to 1500 while I was using Navigon, causing it to go haywire and giving me directions to the frigging moon.

    This is the worst GPS performance I have ever seen with this iPhone, and I'm wondering if this is expected behavior due to weather conditions, or if it's a sign that the phone might be defective and needs to be swapped. Has anyone had similar experience? I noticed this happens in Google Maps too, so it's not germane to any one app. It's just more noticeable in Navigon because I depend on its accuracy there so I don't wind up driving into a river.
     
  2. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #2
    Every time I've used the GPS on my iPhone 4 it has been rock solid. Not sure what is going on with yours. Did you try closing the apps on the multitask bar? How about resetting your phone by holding down the home button and the power button?
     
  3. snakelda macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I used the GPS with Google Maps and it mapped it accurately and it followed the map correctly.Not sure if your iPhone is defective.
     
  4. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

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    #4
    I'll trust my physical Garmin GPS unit any day of the week. That's what it was built to do, rather that having a "GPS" just haphazardly thrown in.
     
  5. Eric374 macrumors 6502

    Eric374

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  6. sjinsjca macrumors 68000

    sjinsjca

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    #6
    +1.

    I was traveling recently and initially got very annoyed at my iPhone 4. Google Maps could find me but with low precision, and my navigation app would not be satisfied with the positioning resolution. Very annoying, as I had to find my way to an unfamiliar airport.

    Fortunately my rental car had an optional GPS system. And...

    ...It didn't work either.

    We are entering a period of episodic solar activity, and it's causing problems with communications systems and GPS, among other things. I'm starting on some more travels this weekend and will be planning ahead with some Google Maps printed in my briefcase, just-in-case.
     
  7. CSpackler macrumors regular

    CSpackler

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    #7
    If you're around buildings, the GPS easily gets confused. Turn on wifi when you're in the city to improve the accuracy of location services.
     
  8. LincolnsiPod thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #8
    Ironically right after I made the post, I drove back to my hotel and:

    Picture perfect accuracy. This thing is screwing with me, I swear to God.

    I'm from New York but I'm in Texas now, and I was perplexed that despite nothing but open sky that it would keep losing the signal. It's never happened before like this.

    I just didn't want to rush to the Apple Store and swap it out if it's been known to have issues like this before and that it isn't germane to the phone itself. Too bad I didn't have my GPS-enabled iPod with me, I could have compared it to see if it really was solar flares or some crazy thing in the atmosphere that just happened to descend onto Texas. :D
     
  9. kleinias macrumors regular

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    Aug 21, 2007
    #9
    You didn't mention it, but I'm betting you have a Verizon iPhone 4. I say that because I moved from an AT&T iPhone 4 to a Verizon model and while reception and call quality is significantly better, the GPS jumps around quite a bit in a way that it never did on the AT&T model.

    Others have mentioned the same contrast between the AT&T iphone 4 (which appears to use a different GPS chip than does the Verizon phone) and the Verizon model. What I don't know is if this is something that can be solved with a firmware update (goodness I sure hope so!) or if this is something we are stuck with due to differences in hardware design. I suppose it is also possible that some Verizon phones do this and others don't but I find that scenario pretty unlikely.
     
  10. einmusiker macrumors 68030

    einmusiker

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    #10
    My thoughts exactly. I tried the viphone and found gps and data to be far inferior
     
  11. LincolnsiPod thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Hmmm, I do have a Verizon iPhone. If that's the case and the GPS is indeed subpar, that would really SUCK.

    On the upside though, I just realized now that my wifi had been turned off this whole time. I've turned it back on and hopefully the added help of triangulating should improve it.

    I'm starting to wonder if this is a software issue. I understand MotionX released an update with Verizon optimization, which makes me think there's a software related problem that erodes the GPS performance on the Verizon iPhone. Either it's OS specific, or the apps that have been designed all this time for the AT&T iPhone may not be working as well as they should with the Verizon model, which makes no sense to me because I always assumed it used the same GPS chip, so why should that matter?

    I really hope this is enough of an issue to have garnered the attention of Apple developers and maybe result in an iOS fix. Hopefully?
     
  12. MisterDisney macrumors 6502a

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  13. LincolnsiPod thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    After more research it's my understanding that the AT&T GPS uses a dedicated processor, while the Verizon GPS is SHARED with the main processor. The hell?

    Under that assumption, closing any background running apps should improve performance. I wonder if that's why I didn't have any problems on my last drive? (I shut off most of the apps then)
     
  14. saberahul macrumors 68040

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    #14
    I use waze. Very happy with it. Very happy with the price of owning it.
     
  15. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #15
    Very accurate here. Locks much faster than my 3Gs.
     
  16. Eric374 macrumors 6502

    Eric374

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    #16
    If it's a software issue it makes me wonder if that's the reason why the CDMA iPhone hasn't gotten 4.3 yet, maybe there's some issues with the combined chip that they're working on.

    In the meantime, I'm still voting for the solar flare theory.
     
  17. Raheelanwar89 macrumors newbie

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    Mar 13, 2011
    #17
    I think its your phone man. I just drove from Oklahoma to San Antonio TX and the iphone4 did not hiccup once while using tomtom on tuesday morning 3/15/11. Ive been using it a lot since ive been in san antonio and its been great. Most probably the dedicated vs non dedicated hardware. :/
     
  18. Shenaniganz08 macrumors 6502

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    Jan 26, 2010
    #18
    My Iphone 4 GPS is rock solid AT&T UCLA area

    [​IMG]

    It could also be your particular car, some tend to block magnetic/GPS signals more than other cars ( especially true for the magnetic compass)
     
  19. JohnBossu macrumors member

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    #19
    I always use the gps whenever I need to meet up with friends on a street that I've never heard of, its always been useful, not crappy at all!!
     
  20. Merkie macrumors 68020

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    #20
    GPS is amazing on the iPhone 4 for me. I always get a fix within a few seconds and it's very difficult to make it lose the signal.
     
  21. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    #21
    Which directions were you driving? Where was the phone placed? What kind of car was it? (Some have metallized windshields.) There can be a lot of factors.

    FWIW, AnandTech claims the Verizon iPhone GPS worked better for him than the ATT version.

    Again FWIW, forum experiences have been that whenever someone complained about their iPhone GPS, swapping out the device usually fixed it. (I think that it's because of the GPS antenna connection coming loose.)

    No, the ATT version is not a dedicated processor.

    They're both host-based GPS types, meaning they require an outside CPU to do the calculations. Both consist of a receiver and signal processor.

    The main difference is that the GSM phone uses a separate Broadcom chip, while the CDMA phone saves space by the receiver/processor being integrated into the Qualcomm baseband chip.

    If anything, it's more likely that the Broadcom model relies on using main CPU MIPS for calculations, whereas the Qualcomm integration could utilize code on the baseband processor. Have to do some more research into it.
     
  22. S1njin macrumors 6502a

    S1njin

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    #22
    Mine is a VZW iPhone (the GPS implementation inside is diff't than the GSM version). Mine has been awesome.
     
  23. Rooftop voter macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    My iPhone 4 gps is pretty solid. It navigated me from Ohio to Florida with only very mild hiccups through the mountins of Virginia.
     
  24. grantsdale macrumors 6502a

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    May 11, 2008
    #24
    Its not thrown in. The GPS function is part of the cellular chipset.

    But I will agree with you that standalone GPS units are far superior.
     
  25. einmusiker macrumors 68030

    einmusiker

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    #25
    motionx on my att iphone 4 gives me better traffic navigation than my garmin 1450t
     

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