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How to calibrate the compass on your Android phone

It's happened to almost everyone. You're trying to find your way around, and the arrow in your navigation app doesn't point in the right direction, moves around arbitrarily or doesn't move at all. If you're having a hard time using your smartphone to tell the direction you're facing, your phone's compass needs to be recalibrated. In this article, we'll show you how to do it.

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Rotate the device on each axis a few times to calibrate the compass

Calibrating your phone's compass is actually easy. Assuming you have Google Maps (who doesn't?), open the app and follow these simple steps:

  • Hold your phone as you normally would. Then, while the phone is still facing you, tilt the top of your phone forward (away from you) and backward (toward you).
  • Now, hold the phone as you normally would, upright with the screen facing you. Then turn it to face to your left, then to your right.
  • Next, hold your phone upright as you normally would again. Then, while the phone still faces you, tilt the top of the phone from one side to the other (like you're switching to landscape mode).

Figure 8 pattern to calibrate compass

If that method isn't effective, you can get the same result by moving your smartphone around in a figure 8 pattern in the air. Just open Google Maps and follow the motions in the video above - it's easy, though you may look really foolish doing it in public.

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Third party apps

You can also install an app from the Play Store to tell you the status of your compass and other sensors, which will then help you know when to calibrate them. GPS Essentials, for example, does just this.

GPS Essentials Install on Google Play

If you're still having trouble with your GPS, compass or navigation app, try our tips to improve GPS signal. Got any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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  • This isn't useful for recalibrating. How do you deliberately calibrate the compass? This is just repeating the instructions the app gives! I did that then, I need to recalibrate NOW.

  • lots of nice compass apps available, some also include extra info like sensor accuracy and status etc
    figure of eight works most of the time for calibration when it doesn't.. giving the device a couple of short sharp taps on my palm does.

  • Article's a little confusing, in that the compass works on a magnetometer and doesn't need GPS or data radios activated to work with offline maps - though GPS can add latitude, longitude to functionality. I have a cute one (Marine Compass, PierroX) with a plug in that overlays direction through the camera view. I've always used 8 to calibrate, but knowing directionality from home it's easy to do a reality check before a trip that needs it.

  • Mark G. 4 months ago Link to comment

    It is recommended that you calibrate your devices compass at least weekly, though I would suggest that if you are reliant on the compass that you calibrate it every time you leave a building or vehicle. (or any strong magnetic interference).

    I use the GPS app - GPS status which has great features and calibration tools.

    Remember that the compass in your device may not be the best, or will at least be affected by magnetic anomalies and interference so try and calibrate it in a open space.

    Peace 🖖🏼

  • Mark
    • Admin
    4 months ago Link to comment

    Calibrate my boat's compass every year, it never occurred to me to calibrate my phones compass. I will do it now, good tips.

  • Jay Viper 4 months ago Link to comment

    great tip! now I know what to do next time

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