General Question

bluemukaki's avatar

Does using GPS on an iPhone use data?

Asked by bluemukaki (4318 points ) August 19th, 2008

I know it does in Maps because it has to download the map, but if I had a 3rd party app which just showed my position as Latititude and Londitude or the Geotagging for photos, is that using my Service Provider’s data plan?

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4 Answers

argaudette's avatar

It does not. I have cell data usage blocked on my iPhone with Rogers and I can use the GPS in Google Maps traveling down the road. The maps don’t load, but it does pinpoint my location. The GPS will also work in combination with WiFi. So theoretically, it should be able to tag the photos with latitude and longitude without data.

do_re_mi's avatar

It doesn’t use data no. It uses battery like nothing else unfortunately.

bluemukaki's avatar

Great, thanks guys!

robmandu's avatar

The location ability is based on three modes of operation:

1. GPS – your iPhone talks to satellites in geosynchronous orbit to pinpoint your position very accurately. Very battery intensive. Unless you’re in very rural areas with spotty cell coverage, I recommend disabling this until you need it. No data plan usage.

2. Cell tower triangulation – your iPhone talks to cell towers (whose geographic locations are precisely known already) to triangulate its position. Needs to talk to at least two towers to get any level of useful accuracy. Although, even with only one tower, it can give you a big circle margin of error of something like 1,500 meters. This likely uses little or no extra battery as your iPhone is regularly pinging (or being pinged) by the cellular network anyway. No data plan usage.

3. Wifi hotspot – your iPhone can find out the geographic location of whatever wifi hotspot you happen to be near. Obviously, this requires you have the iPhone’s wifi ability turned on. And that sucker drains battery. No data plan usage assuming your iPhone gets the location info over the wifi network. Else it’s gonna send the wifi identifier info over your cellular connection. That therefore would involve data plan.

Here’s a fun fact: the iPhone 3G employs ten different radio antennas :

The iPhone 3G integrates ten different antennas: Three for 850 MHz, 1900 MHz, and 2100 MHz bands used for 3G UMTS/HSDPA, four for 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 1900 MHz bands used for GSM/EDGE and a separate antenna for Assisted-GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

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