A common problem with Android devices across the board seems to be the
performance of the GPS. Despite the different devices and manufactures,
this is a common complaint among Android owners and unfortunately the
root cause can be different depending on the device. The GPS signal on
Android devices can be very intermittent and sometimes drops the signal
or has trouble locking on. Here are some tips to help resolve this
Clear Your Map Cache
Depending on which navigation app you use, such as Google Maps, you can
clear your map cache to help get a better lock and faster response time
when using GPS. You can find and clear your cache by going to Manage
Applications and under Menu choose Filter -> Show All. This will list all
apps on your device. Choose each app that uses GPS and clear its cache.
If this does not clear up the problem, it may be an issue with the
connection data itself. Your device may not have the correct information
to connect to the satellites necessary to use GPS, which is causing the
Use Assisted GPS
Assisted GPS (AGPS) is used by most smart phones these days and is a
method of using cell towers to assist in locating your signal. This
method of location is less precise than true GPS locating, but is faster
because your GPS module does not need to connect to a satellite before it
can begin to locate you. Assisted GPS is also helpful if you do not have
clear skies and cannot get in contact with a satellite.
Assisted GPS will also make use of available Wi-Fi networks to help
pinpoint your location which can dramatically change the amount of time
it takes to provide your position.
To enable assisted GPS on your Android device, go to Settings -> Location
& Security Settings and check the checkbox for Enable Assisted GPS.
Note that Assisted GPS will constantly be searching for and connecting to
cell towers while this feature is on, creating a noticeable drain on your
battery. This is most likely a feature you do not want to always leave
enabled but is definitely helpful when you are using your device for
If you are still having trouble with your GPS after turning AGPS on, you
can try resetting your Assisted GPS Data.
Using GPS Status & Toolbox
Sometimes the problem continues because the data for towers and
satellites that your phone holds is incorrect for your location. The GPS
Status & Toolbox is an app available in the Android market and is used to
wipe out and re-download the AGPS data. This can help your device acquire
the correct towers and get up-to-date satellite information. Once you
have downloaded the app, here are the steps to get your new data:
When you start the app, you will see a compass and the data statistics
for your phone. Be sure you have an active data connection.
Go to Manage A-GPS State.
Click Download in the menu.
Exit the app when it is finished.
This will remove all of the old Wi-Fi and satellite information in your
device and download the most pertinent data for your current location.
You should now check your navigation app to see if you can get a location
lock. After this process it should be much quicker.
The downside to this process is that you will most likely need to repeat
it on a regular basis. Any time your GPS begins to act up, you will need
to download new AGPS data using the GPS Status & Toolbox app. Annoying
but a small price to pay for your navigation to work correctly.
If your GPS is still not working correctly after downloading new AGPS
data, your only recourse may be to root your phone and flash a new ROM or
radio to your device. This can make your GPS more reliable as some ROMs
have configuration tweaks that can be used to make the radio work better.
While this step may be extreme for some in order to fix their GPS and it
can be a bit riskier, it can sometimes make your device work better, if
you are prepared to deal with the consequences of rooting your device to
make it happen.
Hopefully by working through these steps you are able to obtain a better
GPS signal and a faster lock. Remember that if your device continues to
act up you may need to continue using the GPS Status & Toolbox app to
reset your connection data. Since this problem seems worse in some
Android devices than others, you may also want to look into changing
devices if you cannot get the GPS to work reliably.