GPS reception with mobile devices such as mobile phone or tablet

As a provider of digital nautical charts for use in a navigation app on mobile devices such as mobile phones or tablets, we are repeatedly confronted with the question of flawless GPS reception via these devices. We would therefore like to explore the question of what the causes of inadequate GPS reception might be, what impact this has on navigation apps and how to prevent this annoyance, especially in digital navigation.

Causes of insufficient GPS reception with mobile devices

Looking at this issue reveals a number of causes for degraded GPS reception on the water. For example, even low cloud cover or rain seem to lead to considerable limitations and significantly impair the GPS reception of the internal sensor. The varying sensitivity of the sensors, depending on the type of device, manufacturer and age of the respective end device, can also influence the quality and stability of the GPS signal. A little research on this topic revealed considerable differences in reception quality - from very good to surprisingly poor. The built-in GPS sensor is often not the main consideration when deciding whether to buy a mobile phone or tablet. There are, however, designated GPS-optimised mobile devices on the market that score points here with a strong sensor and do not cause any problems in use.

What are the practical problems of use?

When using a navigation app such as the NV Charts app, problems can occur during the use of the app if the GPS signal is insufficient. These are expressed in the loss of the signal. This means that the position cannot be determined and navigation using the app alone is no longer possible. When the signal is available again, the route must be restarted. If there is a GPS failure, a paper sea chart on board is obligatory and must be and must be ready to hand in order to quickly compensate for the failure of the digital navigation. But the fun of digital navigation is spoiled for the time being. So what can be done to avoid these situations?

Optimising and ensuring GPS reception on board

Very practical tips are, for example, to check the battery status of the device. There are types of devices that switch the GPS signal to "optimised" in the basic settings if the battery charge falls below a certain level. In this case, it can help to deactivate "optimised" in order to keep the GPS signal stable. Check whether the location authorisation in your device settings is set to "always", otherwise it is also not possible to determine a position using GPS.

In the NV Charts app, it is also advisable to check whether the online maps are activated. In this case, the GPS is also blocked and not displayed. You can solve the problem immediately by deactivating the online maps.

If you are interested in monitoring how good the GPS coverage is in general, it is worthwhile to install a corresponding app on your mobile phone. one example would be the GPS Status App. In addition to practical tips, an additional external GPS antenna that is compatible with the operating system of your mobile device is recommended for digital navigation with an app. This can be positioned on the ship so that you have good GPS reception everywhere, even if you are below deck. One option, for example, is the Garmin GLO, which is compatible with Windows, iOS and Android and provides a remedy for the problem described above. With this in mind, we wish you a safe passage and a good time on the water.

The NV Charts App - more than navigation

In addition to the convincing navigation functions, discover many features that make your time on the water even more interesting.

Garmin GLO 2 GPS-Receiver with Bluetooth Connection

Your wireless GPS receiver to transmit position data via Bluetooth to tablet laptop or PC to run navigation software.

NV Charts App - More than navigation

The NV Charts App is the digital counterpart to the NV Charts paper charts, but enriched with many useful functions around navigation, safety, voyage planning, sharing with others and time on the water - from leisure cruising to racing. Try out how easy navigation can be.

System requirements of the app: IOS version 14, Android version 7.0+, Windows 11, 10, 8, Mac OSX 10.13 10.14 10.15, 11, 12 (current version) and at least 6 GB RAM.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Support