Published on
Updated on 

How to improve location accuracy on Android / iOS phone


Geolocation does not always work accurately for a variety of reasons - malfunction of the device, the app itself, or even due to weather conditions.

In this article, we'll discuss why the positioning may not work and what are the ways to improve the accuracy of GPS on iOS or Android.

Table of Contents

Improving geolocation accuracy

There is a standard set of actions that are worth applying before you start any serious fixes.

In order to improve geolocation accuracy:

  1. Restart your mobile device;
  2. Update the app via Play Market or Appstore;
  3. Connect to Wi-Fi;
  4. Clear the memory of the device, if it is critically overflowing;
  5. Clear cache of the app.
  6. Turn off the power saving mode, as it minimizes the work of apps in background, even if they are navigators.

How to improve location accuracy on Android

The first thing to check is whether geolocation works. To do this, just swipe your finger on the screen from top to bottom and tap on the "Geolocation" icon.

Next, to improve Android gps accuracy do the following:

  1. Go to the Settings;
  1. Select the "Location" section;
  1. Select "Location services";
  1. Tap on "All sources".

In case geolocation doesn't work at all, chances are that the app doesn't have the proper permission to use the data. Then follow the following instructions:

  1. Go to Settings;
  2. Open the "Apps" or "App manager" section;
  1. Select "Permission manager";
  1. Tap on "Location";
  1. From the suggested list, select "Allow in any mode".

How to improve iPhone GPS accuracy

In case iPhone (iOS), check if you have geolocation enabled.

  1. Open the Settings;
  2. Go to the "Privacy" section;
  3. Turn on "Geolocation services".
  4. Next, check the app access to geolocation.
  5. Go to Settings;
  6. Open "Privacy";
  7. Open "Location services" or "Geolocation services";
  8. From the list, select the app in which you are determining the location;
  9. Select the "Always" option.
  10. Check the accuracy of your location.

Instead of "Always", you can also select "When using the app", but if you do so, you may have problems operating in the background.

Additional ways to improve geolocation accuracy

If none of these methods work, try the following ones.

Step 1. Install Waze app

Waze is one of the most accurate and useful navigation apps for iPhone and Android. If for some reason it does not work with another app, you can install Waze and check the accuracy of geolocation there.

Read more: How to use Waze

Step 2. Enable Wi-Fi

This item has already been described above, but many people obviously have a question - why is it needed at all.

The location on a mobile phone is determined not only through communication with satellites, but also through the Internet, radio stations, etc. For this reason, a Wi-fi connection, for example in the subway, can help you determine your location even there, albeit with a small margin of error.

Step 3. Calibrate a phone

The calibration function is available in many navigators in the settings, but let's analyze it on the example of Google Maps.

When you open the app, you may notice that the beam coming from your location point is too wide. This means that the geolocation is not accurate.

To calibrate it, all you have to do is swipe your phone a few times in the air in a figure of eight and look at the beam again. It should get thinner. It means the device is calibrated. The same feature with visual instructions is available in the GPS Status & Toolbox.

Step 4. Install GPS Status & Toolbox

GPS Status & Toolbox is an app for adjusting the built-in compass, gyroscope and several other sensors.

Calibration is more convenient here than in Google Maps, as it is done through a special function. The GPS Status & Toolbox provides a visual guide to what the user needs to do.

In addition to calibration, the app has an important function - resetting and reloading of active GPS connections.

  1. Go to the menu available when you tap on the three bars in the upper left corner
  2. Select "Manage Status"
  3. The app will prompt you to perform a cold start.

Step 5. Install GPS Essentials

GPS Essentials is a diagnostic software that allows you to check the operation of all devices and sensors on your phone. The app is very functional, with separate options for each sensor and sensor.

Step 6. Use an external GPS receiver

If the sensors on your phone are faulty and you need to determine your location urgently, such as for a trip, you can purchase an external GPS receiver.

There are GPS receivers that connect to any device, whether an iPad or an Android phone. These receivers are often used in cars, as their signal accuracy is much higher than that of phones. The best, yet inexpensive devices are Dual Electronics, Garmin GLO, GlobalSat, Bad Elf, Qstarz.

Why is Waze so accurate?

Despite the fact that the most detailed maps in this app are of its homeland – Israel, a dozen of other countries are also finely covered, among which are: the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and some other European countries.

In any place the accuracy of how routes and points of interest are displayed depends on the number of users in this app network. The display of travel conditions on roads in large cities is much better compared to the one in small towns and villages (relevant for any country).

To summarize

Sometimes navigation inaccuracies can't be fixed, as they can be system failures or those related to weather conditions. However, if the geolocation on your device works very badly for a long time, it is better to apply to the service for repair, because the problem is most likely of a technical nature.

Frequently asked questions

How accurate is Android GPS?

Accuracy of GPS on any phone - up to 20 meters, depending on the weather, the satellites, and the location of the user. In ideal conditions, the error is only 2-4 meters.

How accurate is Google Maps location sharing?

When you are in a tall building, in the subway, in the woods, the accuracy of geolocation may be impaired. It also happens when the weather is bad - very hot or vice versa, if the sky is covered with clouds. In addition, you may have a damaged GPS sensor on your device, or its calibration may be out of calibration.

Sometimes the problems are in the software - the power-saving mode is turned on, Wi-Fi is turned off, or the navigator has not received the necessary permissions for geolocation.

Which is more accurate - Waze or Google maps?

Both apps are owned by Google, so their accuracy is not particularly different. The main difference between the apps is their functionality.

Which is more accurate - GLONASS or GPS?

GLONASS accuracy is 3-6 meters, while GPS is 2-4 meters, so the difference between them is tiny. Many modern apps use both navigation systems at the same time, due to which the error is reduced to 1.5-3 meters.

GLONASS has a more stable operation without interruptions, however satellite coverage almost does not go beyond Russia and some CIS countries.

Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in GPS and cartography with 15 years of experience. Additionally, Ilia has extensive experience in data recovery on PC and mobile. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions on MGT and answer them.