GPS and iPad Wi - Fi + Cellular

Early January 2011 I wrote started the year in a bad mood (¹) After finding repeated incompetence of Apple sellers, during Christmas, concerning devices they sold, mainly iPad and iPhone. I note unfortunately as 5 years later, nothing has changed, it is to despair !

I don't know in what language to write it, but this unacceptable breach of their products even today causes the disbelief of new clients regarding the presence of a true GPS on these mobile devices. I just have recently to experience it with a boater who argued me, I quote :

" It is an error to say that the Cellular iPad integrates a "GPS chip"., It is only a chip that makes a triangulation by GSM antennas..
Source : verified by myself _and_ confirmed by APPLE. "

And to clarify, in response to my strong denials :

"When I said that it had been confirmed to me by Apple., It is not the "Apple sellers in the store" but from Apple support by phone with a guy who searched in their internal database . "

I do not know who writes these "internal database" but Apple support should have the obligation to read the articles in web sites iFixit and Chipworks to learn what lies under the hood of their mobile.

iPad Wi - Fi against iPad Wi - Fi + Cellular

These two models, the first, iPad Wi-Fi, only has Wi-Fi as a means of network connection, and the location is only provided by geo-referenced Wi-Fi hotspots (²), so very inaccurate.

The second model, called iPad Wi-Fi+Cellular, provides access to 3G/4G cellular network with a SIM card and an appropriate subscription (as for an iPhone). It is featured with a modem processor designed by Qualcomm (MDM96x5M series), incorporating one assisted A - GPS receiver (Qualcomm IZat Gen8C), to which is added an inertial 3-axis sensor and 3-axis accelerometer, all providing extremely accurate positioning of the mobile, serving navigation mapping for car , marine or air applications. Localization can be obtained by alternately access points Wi-Fi, by cellular antennas trilateration, or built-in GPS. The A-GPS receiver is compatible with the American GPS, Russian GLONASS systems, and soon GALILEO (³).

About iPhone, they all are featured with such processor with built-in assisted GPS modem. It has therefore not to make a choice.

iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular

With the risk of repeating, once again, GPS location doesn't absolutely need the cellular network to work, a SIM card and a subscription to this network are therefore absolutely UN-NE-CES-SA-RY. The A-GPS chip built into this model (as to the iPhone) is perfectly capable of acquiring satellites in the GPS constellation without the assistance (the 'A' of A-GPS) by the cellular network. This assistance provides only an acceleration of the achievement of location, or accelerated location recovery if lost after passing through a tunnel, in example, through the connection on a dedicated server providing real-time ephemeris of the satellite constellation. This is particularly important on the road use. Without this assistance the receiver GPS works independently like any other GPS receiver, marine or outdoor.

In conclusion, to twist the neck of the erroneous information disclosed by Apple resellers, an iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular, as an iPhone, is able to locate yourself anywhere on the globe, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Sahara desert, or in an aircraft at 9000 metres above sea level (), with no access to the internet network.

Please repost widely !

(¹) iPad , GPS and 3G cellular network subscription
(²) How the iPhone knows where you are
(³) Qualcomm Announces Broad Support for Galileo Across Snapdragon Processor and Modem Portfolios
() iPad GPS far away from networks


15 Replies to “GPS et iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular”

  1. Hello Francis,

    But currently the site of Apple france in the comparison of the iPad .. it not is not even mention GPS whatever the model.. and if we chose to buy an iPad 2 air for example the same not found in the document …!!
    my mac mini late 2009 market still .. !

  2. On (me)knowledge of the Apple sellers, There is also another scenario :
    A friend changes his former iPad2 (cellular) for an iPad4. Vendor him guaranteed that it will be able to geotag without problem through the internal GPS as on the iPad2. He buys with confidence the iPad4 non cellular and arrived at sea between Cherbourg and the Isle of Wight what happen, came to pass: More location ! He is furious and unfortunately, There are far too many cases confirming the poor training of the personnel who are most of the time in little better trained than trainees team extra.

  3. Bravo for your blog through which I chose the iPad 2 3G that works isailor gratis nickel and its cards. The wide market, some depth at the edge but very reliable errors, more than the heartbreaking navman there were on the boat when I bought it…
    I have unlocked worries of restorations with the Apple care Tel and it worked.
    However I can't export my roads and the functioning of the calculations of waypoint is not top. On the other hand I would like to make a diary in blog and I think you have an idea of app to do it? Thanks and again bravo✌

  4. I have owned 3 IPAD:s. All are WIFI+CELLULAR.

    This comment is written on an IPAD PRO (WIFI+CELLULAR)

    I can confirm that sim cards are not needed to make the GPS work. Have been using all IPADS for navigation on the boat and in the car.

    The only reason for me to buy the CELLULAR version is to get the GPS chip. Have never used them together whith a SIM vard.

  5. I confirm having tried an ipad 3G wifi cellular retina between Cayenne and Paris aboard an Air France airbus. I didn't chip 3 G and I've been perfectly localized. I usually use it with Inavx on my fast 38 in Guyana.

  6. Hello,

    I confirm the opinion of Maurice. The iPad is certainly not need network for GPS position, but the iNavX app refuses to load the maps in some cases where it does not a network connection. I met this anomaly two times by opening iNavX on the open sea. Recently with the v4.7.4, I again found myself in the open sea and I could not use the app at all. I checked with a Google map at the same time that the position is well displayed correctly, which means that the iPad had well the GPS tracking. But fortunately I had cards paper on the boat that day.

    To clarify the anomaly : the app remains blocked with the "Add cards" page, and the displayed list is then empty (While the maps are well stored locally). One wonders what iNavX wants pending verifying a network connection. It's probably a bug, because when starting the app with a connection and then it lost at sea, I have never seen this block.
    Thus the ambiguity of understanding referred to Francis and that he is struggling to lift despite his explanations is not maintained this bug of the app.

    1. There was a severe bug with the version 4.7.3 of iNavX allowing more access to the maps without internet access. Since version 4.7.4, If all cards of a folder are uploaded before leaving, There is no reason that they disappear in the sea, unless a new bug that I haven't experienced during my month of ferry to Corsica in Normandy. But in any case, This has absolutely nothing to do with the operation of the service location for the iPad. Do not mix.

  7. I confirm. I have an iPad 2 without a sim card and uses non-wifi of course. Localization is precise.

  8. Hello,

    I confirm the details of Francis to 100 %. I own an Ipad with Gps in which I've never had a smart phone 3G or 4G. This does not prevent me to navigate with. I've also already tested the gps of the Pad in a plane. Nickel position.

  9. OK is very correct. He navegado in el Atlantico on clusters of 50 miles from the coast (therefore without cellular antennas) y la única forma conectar el mini iPad wifi es con a bad elf gps what conecta a los satelites del sistema gps.

  10. Hello Francis,
    What makes doubt everyone, including me is that when you use inavx on iPad wifi + cellular, It does not not give you your position if you it initialises at sea far from the antennas he refuses to give you your position; I did find other solutions than that is to launch the application leaving the dock for use at sea.
    Thanks for your writings

    Maurice New Orleans Louisiana

    1. With what model, recent ? A standard GPS may take up more than ten minutes for a TTFF long extinction, or a major change of geographical location. It is the same for an iPhone or an iPad. As such, the first Broadcom chipset (iPad 1 and 2) were significantly less efficient than Qualcomm that followed.

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