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How to improve GPS accuracy on Android
Google Pixel 3 Android for Beginners Apps 5 min read 28 comments

How to improve GPS accuracy on Android

Your GPS sensor lets your phone use navigational apps, such as Google Maps and location services, and properly tag your geo-location across them. A good signal is crucial for navigation as well as for playing certain AR (augmented reality) games like Pokémon Go. So, here's how you can improve the GPS signal on your device.

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What is GPS?

To know how to optimize your GPS it's helpful to understand how it works. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and was developed by the US Army in 1973, but in the1980s it was released for civilian purposes. It was initially used with 24 satellites but now there are 31 GPS satellites in orbit.

Your smartphone communicates with these satellites via a GPS antenna, which is part of the hardware in the majority of today's smartphones and tablets. This hardware is connected via a driver with the software. Thus, there are three sources of error for the GPS signal in the smartphone:

  • The number of GPS satellites at the current location
  • The quality of the GPS antenna in the smartphone
  • The implementation of the driver in the operating system
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Read on for the solutions to many of your GPS woes. / © AndroidPIT

Switch on 'High accuracy' mode

To get the best possible signal, you have to be prepared to use a bit more battery than normal. It's a necessary sacrifice, and you can always reverse it later when you don't need to use GPS anymore. Enabling this is easy; just follow a couple of steps and you'll be on your way.

Go into your Settings and tap Location and ensure that your location services are on. You should be able to toggle it at the top right hand of your screen. It should be green and the button to the right.

Now the first category under Location should be Mode, tap that and make sure it's set to High accuracy. This uses your GPS as well as your Wi-Fi and mobile networks to estimate your location. This will use more battery but will utilize all available methods to give you the most accurate location possible.

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Ensure 'High accuracy' mode is toggled on for a good signal. / © AndroidPIT

Use a compass app to recalibrate the GPS

If you suspect your compass is not working accurately you can force it to recalibrate. For this, you will need a compass app. Some phones come with one already pre-installed. If so, fire it up and go through the process of recalibration to give your GPS signal a much-needed refresh.

If your Android device does not come with a compass app, you can download one from the Play Store and do it this way. Compass Galaxy is a good and reliable option.

Keep the GPS signal active

One of the main problems that we encountered when going from one app to another is that the GPS is turned off to save battery. If for example you are playing Pokémon Go and want to take a look at your latest messages, your GPS could be turned off. 

However, you can keep the GPS signal active. To do this you must install a GPS app. We recommend Connected GPS. It's a simple app and does the trick. Bear in mind that doing this could result in reduced battery life.

Find out if your GPS issues are hardware- or software-related

With GPS Essentials, you can diagnose whether a poor GPS signal is due to a hardware or software issue. In the GPS Essentials main menu, tap Satellites, then watch (with some amazement) your phone connecting to satellites around the earth.

If no satellites appear, then this could be due to interference from metallic objects around you, your smartphone case, or your GPS hardware not working properly. If satellites do appear, but your GPS is still out of whack, then this is a software issue, and you should refer to the other tips in this article to help you.

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See if your GPS is connected to any satellites with GPS Essentials. / © AndroidPIT

Refresh your GPS Data

Sometimes your device will get 'stuck' on certain GPS satellites, even if they’re not within range, causing it not to work properly. To fix this, you can use an app like GPS Status & Toolbox to clear your GPS data and to start connecting to satellites from scratch.

In the app, tap anywhere on the screen, then tap the menu icon and hit Manage A-GPS state. Tap Reset, then when that's finished go back into the Manage A-GPS state menu and tap Download. Your GPS data should now be refreshed, and if it starts playing up again then just repeat this process.

Get an external GPS receiver

If your smartphone GPS is no longer sufficient it might be worthwhile for you to purchase an external receiver. This can be coupled with the smartphone via Bluetooth and recharge with the same charger. On Amazon, the Garmin GLO GPS receiver costs around $100. Click the link below to pick it up.

Do you have any other tweaks to help improve your GPS accuracy? If so, share them in the comments.


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  • M P 5 months ago Link to comment

    Nobody mentioned that you need to make sure the option to use wifi for higher GPS accuracy should be enabled. That helped me a lot.

    Question: Does wifi need to be enabled for this option to work? It might seem obvious but perhaps not. I've noticed that when my wifi cannot find a saved access point my phone calls (through google voice) often fail. So I need to turn wifi off when out and about. Would I get the highest accuracy possible when wifi is disabled?

  • Nice information...Thank you for sharing

  • forum111 10 months ago Link to comment

    I'm wondering where the 1995 date for "released for civilian purposes" came from as Popular Mechanics states 1983 for the system being opened to the public. I only questioned this and looked for another source because I recall someone in my family having bought a commercial handheld Magellan GPS receiver back in the late 80s. And if one is referring to the removal of the civilian data fuzzing, that wasn't until 2000. Again, according to Popular Mechanics. I'd provide the article URL, but my account is apparently too new for the stupid forum software to allow me to include a link.

    • The reason some systems have that label is because the GPS 'system' is owned by the US Government, (and kept operational by the United States Air Force)- ground unit receiver/transmitters have been 'allowed' for use by civilians in the 80's, and some manufacturers have put a release label on their products just in case Uncle Sam decides to selectively deny access to it's systems.

      The US Government can- and HAS selectively denied use of GPS systems... a good example of this was in 1999 when the US Government shut down GPS to the Indian Army during India's brief war with Pakistan.

      Because GPS is owned by the US, Russia and China are hard at work to get their own version of GPS satellites up and running (It would be a real problem to go to war, have the US shut down your GPS and not know where the heck you are!).

      • Paul, I wasn't necessarily questioning the semantics of "released for civilian purposes" and am aware of the ownership and access issues which you added to the fold. As far as the 1995 date, you too have stated it should be in the 80s. That's the germane piece which I wish the author of the article would address.

  • old article

    • forum111 10 months ago Link to comment

      Yeah. There are comments dating back to 2014 yet somehow the article date currently shows it's only 2 months old. Maybe someone updated something in the article and bumped the date. Either the original published date should be retained or a separate "updated" date should be added. I also appreciate when a line is added stating what was edited.

  • I use this app "GPS TOTAL RUN" is all in one app.
    Check configuration zone of this app, you can change a lot of settings

  • ..if you're a serious hiker/backpacker/4WD you might wanna look into a dedicated handheld device rather than relying on a cell...today's Garmins, etc. are incredibly accurate in the most remote nooks and crannies on earth...Russia's GLONASS system of satellites can pinpoint you anywhere, from the Arctic Circle to Mount Everest to Machu Picchu with almost pinpoint precision...

  • Thanks, finding out about a add on GPS for my phone was a very big help! Thanks.

  • In your: settings, location, tap on the GPS icon (usually top) to see GPS modes. Try setting "use GPS only" rather than hi accuracy mode and see if this helps. I have been having trouble for about a week now and I think this helped. I am wondering if the cell tower data has been compromised.

  • My Samsung i9082 was able of detecting 13 gps satellites in about 4 seconds,on its peak, it can even detect 21, and use 13 of them at once, and it only needs 4 satellites to get a lock. Now it takes almost a minute to detect 13 satellites, and it wouldn't lock until it detects 17 or something, AND it only uses 5 satellites. Is there any problem(s) with my GPS?

  • I need Help i have The sony xperia M 4.3 Version And i cant change Mods Iam Playing The Pokemon Go And For Some reason It stop Working (GPS) I thought Cuz Pokemon Had The Problem But When I dried To Find my Location On Google Maps it coulnd Find It Can you Guys Help me ?

  • Thanks for the tip about GPS Connected. On my old JB device I found a little app called Active GPS to be the only one that really boosts performance (at expense of battery) especially when the device fails to "find" a connection. Haven't used it enough on my new L device to know if it adds anything.

  • Good read:)

  • Best GPS app is GPS status & tool box.
    For location accuracy select automatic date and time.
    Before navigation go to settings >storage>cached data>clear cached data.

  • Obtain UFO/Alien technology. Aliens are for sure to have better positioning systems than us, if you ever get hands on some and can work out how to use it, this may be better option.

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