You do not need to be connected to the internet on your iOS or Android phone to be able to use the GPS functionality. But if you are connected to the mobile network, you get to enjoy a better GPS experience, compared to if you use the GPS function offline.
When your phone or tablet is connected to the internet, you can take part in “assisted GPS”, or A-GPS. This type of GPS technology shows your approximate position thanks to mobile masts and known WiFi networks assisting with location information.
When you start a GPS app, like Google Maps, you notice that a large circle first appears on the screen, which after a while becomes smaller and smaller, and finally corresponds to a small dot. When the circle is large, your device has retrieved information from wifi networks and mobile masts, and when a more accurate position is displayed, your device is in contact with GPS satellites.
When you want to navigate using a GPS app, and do not have access to the internet, for the above reason it may take marginally longer for the GPS app to show your actual position. Interference can also occur, as A-GPS, which requires an Internet connection, cannot be used as a backup alternative to the GPS satellites.
Do iPad devices have GPS?
Apple has decided to supply only the most expensive tablets, ie. The 4G / LTE models, with GPS chip. Therefore, if you have a Wifi model iPad, you can not connect to GPS satellites to use map apps like Google Maps and Waze.
The best GPS apps for offline use
Not all GPS apps are created equal. Some are simple, while others offer more advanced functionality. The GPS apps mentioned below are free and can be used on both Android and iOS phones.
Maps.me works great offline, but if you want to be able to see traffic information or have more information about local traffic, your device must be connected to the internet. The maps are retrieved from the OpenStreetMap database, and restaurants and cafes from over 600 cities are included in the app.
This GPS app is free, but funded by ads. If you want to support the developers and at the same time get rid of the advertising, you should choose to sign up for a premium membership.
2. Google Maps
Google Maps offers an excellent map service that is both easier to use and more functional compared to Maps.me. However, the offline mode is limited, which should be seen as a major setback as it is GPS apps with offline functionality that are compared in this article.
More specifically, you can “only” save offline maps corresponding to 120,000 square meters. It is a very large area, but the limitation can prove to be stressful for users who travel a lot, as they are forced to delete older maps in order to download new areas for offline navigation.
Despite the limitation, Google Maps is one of the world’s best offline maps. Places of interest are listed and advanced 3D maps are offered, you can also get advice on which public transport you should choose.
3. HERE WeGo
HERE WeGo is a popular GPS app that works great, both offline and online. Offline mode includes over 100 countries, and driving directions are displayed as usual, even if you do not have internet access.
A strong focus is placed on you traveling with others and finding cheap travel by bus or train. This is because the application’s developers make money from forwarding travel. However, the HERE WeGo app does not get worse for that matter, and is highly recommended.
You do not need to be connected to the internet to be able to use your mobile phone as a mobile GPS. However, it may take a little longer for your GPS app to show you where you are, and live reports of traffic accidents and any queues can not be viewed offline.
We recommend that you use Maps.me, Google Maps or HERE WeGo. They work great both offline and online.