iPad does GPS.

No need speculate anymore. iPad does GPS if you have $629 or more. That’s because it is only available in the model that carries a 3G module.

Nowadays you can almost be sure that anything that carries a 3G antenna is also capable of A-GPS. A-GPS stands for “assisted GPS” and is actually better than plain old GPS, not the other way around.

But anyhow, the base model is also location aware, though not as much as the 3G model. It can figure out your location based on Wi-Fi signals, and figure out your direction using the digital compass. 3G model however can also figure out your location using cellular towers. Both models also carry the accelerometer.

So what can you do with a GPS enabled coffee table device? You can use any of the existing GPS navigation apps for the iPhone if for some reason you take it with you on a vehicle. No kidding though, this ridiculous article on NYTimes actually thinks Apple iPad is a threat to standalone GPS navigation systems. The commenters are even more funny…

32 Responses to “iPad does GPS.”

  1. Muero Says:

    Wow! You’re the only person reporting this accurately! Most people are reporting that A-GPS is worse than GPS. They’re morons.

  2.   Apple iPad Comes With GPS Function | Daily GPS Reviews and News Says:

    […] [Source] […]

  3. Mike Says:

    The iPad will probably be a BIG hit with the presbyopia crowd – (read: over 40 & needing A-vision, or simply 4-eyes)

    There’s a HUGE market waiting to be tapped.

  4. zenoran Says:

    Ya I have the wifi only model and it got my location down to my condo complex with a big blue circle around it. Kind of amazing how close it can get with just wifi. No complaints here… it gets general vacinity for apps like weather and stuff… only reason you would need more precision is for navigation but I have in-dash for that and a Nexus as backup? lol.

  5. godmode Says:

    There are clear differences between GPS, A-GPS, Location based software using Wifi (triangulating via Wifi/cellular), and etcetera.

    A-GPS or Assisted GLobal Positioning System does not, and never actually said to include a dedicated GPS receiver) chip (Infineon, Surf 3, etc). A-GPS works its magic via triangulation using cellular towers, and if you are in a wifi connection, it can get even more accurate. A-GPS us even used with systems that have dedicated GPS receivers, because as the article state, (and is the absolute truth) RF signals from satellites can get bounced, and cause inaccurate readings for location based uses.

    Most GPS will save a certain amount of data for use as it tracks you – this is where AGPS is useful then the dedicated GPS receiver chip cannot connect to 3 or more satellites (the necessary minimum for accurate tracking). Good day.

  6. SeattleChris Says:

    If you are in the middle of nowhere – 100 miles from a cell tower or WiFi, a normal GPS device can tell you where you are. An iPad 3G with A-GPS does NOT know where you are ( and neither does an iPhone 3Gs. ( or, prove me wrong )

  7. Matthias Says:


    1) An issue perhaps in the US with its obsolete, proprietary network technology, poor coverage and money grubbing mentality to chase profitable (dense) markets only. There’s the rest of the world as well.

    2) How many users will ever in a lifetime find themselves on this situation? They can carry a gps.


    There are no comments to the NYT article. You can’t comment. Who knows how much credibility the rest of what you say carries as you’re reading skills do not appear to be very good.

    The NYT is right. A bit too big for mobile use on an iPad but to have both is a killer. Ever been through the Garmin experience: absurd map costs, absurd use restrictions, poor to nonexistent support, conflicting and non-transferable media, proprietary formats and crap interface.

  8. Marko Says:

    Who ever say that A-GPS is better then GPS is moron. I would not waste my time on explaining why, because it is so obvious.

  9. philipbilly Says:

    seems like there are some good people that come to this site. Looks like my new hangout!

  10. Waine Says:

    very interesting post – just what i was looking for.


  11. Cheryl Carroll Says:

    A-GPS is worse than true GPS if you’re on a boat off shore. Without a true GPS chip and antenna a-GPS is worthless when out of range of Wi-Fi and Cellular towers.

    If an aftermarket GPS receiver can be used, either Bluetooth or USB through the camera connector with NEMA protocal, could make the iPad an awesome Marine GPS plotter and surface road tool.

    I don’t know of any WiFi GPS senders that could work with iPad. Bluetooth seems like the best option for iPad.


  12. hayduke Says:

    Are you all stupid?
    GPS is short for The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides reliable location and time information in all weather and at all times and anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.(Wikipedia)
    Any other system for locating one position is just that location aware devices…but that is not a GPS. If it does not have a GPS Chip it is not an GPS.

  13. nick Says:

    At Seattle Chris & Cheryl Carroll. If you turn off your 3g and wifi connections or travel out into no-where, the gps will still locate your position on the 3gs. I have done this in many wilderness locations such as the boundary waters in Canada. In assisted GPS the location is acquired quicker because it transmits to a cell tower. However, if there is no “assist” the GPS chip will still locate the position with just a longer acquisition lag. So what is the problem here? Well the real problem is people like Seattle Chris and Cheryl Carroll have no idea what they are talking about. In fact 50 miles off the coast of new port harbor, CA with no cell reception and my iphone can still acquire a gps signal. I pwn you all and you know nothing. Your information is useless.

  14. chris Says:

    I agree with Nick.

    The WiFi + 3G iPad DOES have a GPS chip. I don’t have a 3G sim card in mine right now, so no 3G access. I turned OFF WiFi. Inside my building at work, it can’t get my location, but I went outside to an open area and it grabbed my exact location and tracked me as I walked.

    With WiFi turned on inside my building, where it can’t connect to the GPS satellites, it gets my location via WiFi but puts me several buildings over. Not near as accurate as when it was using the GPS satellites outside.

  15. habibhayek Says:

    hi my name is habib el hayek i have an ipad what i want to tell you guys ipad work with external bluetooth gps receiver no need for 3g i have it with tomtom too my must be jailbroken and u install in cydia btstack gps any question send email to hayik@hotmail.com or call 1800 985 7573

  16. andrew Says:

    chris, nick,
    Both of you provided the final answer of what all of us want to know.
    Great Job! Chris and Nick!!!


    chris Says:

    June 4th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I agree with Nick.

    The WiFi + 3G iPad DOES have a GPS chip. I don’t have a 3G sim card in mine right now, so no 3G access. I turned OFF WiFi. Inside my building at work, it can’t get my location, but I went outside to an open area and it grabbed my exact location and tracked me as I walked.

    With WiFi turned on inside my building, where it can’t connect to the GPS satellites, it gets my location via WiFi but puts me several buildings over. Not near as accurate as when it was using the GPS satellites outside.


  17. Bill2010 Says:

    Add GPS to your WIFI Pad is easy
    I have found this interesting video

    Seems that is is possible to add GPS functionality to WiFi Pads Phones and Touches.
    I think pretty cool



  18. Jay Says:

    “Who ever say that A-GPS is better then GPS is moron. I would not waste my time on explaining why, because it is so obvious.”

    I know this blog is almost a year old and the comment almost 6 months old, but I just wanted to memorialize the utter FAIL in this person’s comment, and prevent anyone reading that nonsense from taking it as anything but totally false. BOTTOM LINE, in layman’s terms: A-GPS can be used without the “A”. lol. The “A” can substantially decrease the amount of time it takes for satellites to find you, but if you’re in the middle of nowhere with no network access and thus cannot use the “A” part of your A-GPS, the plain old GPS part of your A-GPS IS STILL TOTALLY FUNCTIONAL.

  19. Patrick Says:

    i am going to be out o reach on any cell tower or wifi connection. will the ipad give me a position signal?
    some of you say it has a GPS chip and some say it doesn’t. I went to the apple store and they told me it DOESN’T.
    the apple website doesn’t answer the question either.
    tech support at apple also says it doesn’t have a GPS chip and yet it seems that many of you say it does perform like a real GPS receiver or even better when wifi 3g is available (“A”)
    why is it so difficult to get an answer to this simple question?

  20. Etienne Says:

    What if…
    What if cellular towers did not require a valid simcard to send out their respective locations… Then any 3G enabled device would stil be receiving the signals coming from the towers, separated from any data subscriptions… So taking out a simcard wouldn’t disable the gps software from utilizing the iPads circuitry… Just wondering…
    South Africa, Nelspruit

  21. Jay Says:


    Only the 3G versions have A-GPS (the wifi-only versions do NOT). Even the iPad’s specs sheet on Apple’s own site explicitly states this. Specifically the 3G iPads use the Broadcom BCM4750 GPS chip: http://www.broadcom.com/products/GPS/GPS-Silicon-Solutions/BCM4750. And if you Google, “iPad GPS without data plan” or something similar, you’ll get a lot of first-hand info absolutely confirming the existence of a REAL GPS receiver in the iPad (and its ability to work without wifi/3G help). Again, don’t let the “A” part of A-GPS fool you into thinking it’s some sub-standard version of REAL GPS or that it’s the same thing as cellular triangulation. THIS IS NOT TRUE. ANY A-GPS system does NOT, NOT, NOT (!) need network access to function. Yes, it’ll be slower at picking up your INITIAL (keyword) position without the help of a network (we can be talking several minutes here), but once locked on, it should have no problems tracking your movement. In short, the people you spoke to at Apple are absolutely wrong.

  22. Jay Says:

    One more thing. The reason you see A-GPS in phones (and other non-GPS-dedicated devices like tablets) is because the GPS receiver chips/antenna in these things need to be very tiny (for obvious reasons). To compensate, phones are capable of using data (i.e.; over wifi or 3G) provided by their network to get a faster position lock. It can also help in areas where the smaller GPS receivers in these phones might have problems finding satellites.

  23. Shawn Says:

  24. Joey Says:

    but – a huge but – it will not work in an airplane and will not work anywhere there are not cell towers – there IS NOT REAL GPS inside a 3G ipad. I know – it had a position before I brought it on board my airplane and it lost its position above about 3000′ . .. just like cell phones. You NEED the GPS dongle for it if you want real GPS – y’all can always buy an onboard mapping program – and it works great – does not matter what Jay says – its not real GPS used by stand alone receivers.

  25. Mike Says:

    Joey…when mine works out in the middle of the Australian outback where there isn’t a phone tower for 300 miles in any direction, and its showing me happily driving along a track in the right place etc…then its some sort of black magic voodoo? Do you have any other explanation other than you are wrong? We have to carry satellite phones or HF radios out here because there are no cell towers at all.

  26. Jay Says:

    @Joey, I’m not trying to be rude, but your anecdotal “evidence” doesn’t trump the DEFINITION of A-GPS nor the fact that the iPad has a BCM4750 (real) GPS chip, as I pointed out earlier (did you even bother to look at the link?). As I also said earlier though, there are places in this world (e.g.; airplanes, very dense cities, etc) where the smaller GPS antenna in phones and tablets (e.g.; the iPad) will have problems finding/holding satellites: this is where the “assisted” part of A-GPS is helpful. Like Mike though, I’ve found that in 90%+ of the situations I’ve been in (including in the city), GPS on the 3G iPad WORKS PERFECTLY without access to a data network. Here’s an easy experiment for anyone who doubts the 3G iPad has REAL GPS: take your SIM card out of the iPad, get in your car, and then load up whatever GPS app you use. It’ll probably take a few minutes to get an initial lock, but after that, the iPad should have no trouble keeping up with your movement (unless you go into a tunnel, parking garage, etc). What more proof does anyone need than that? Without a SIM and nowhere near WiFi, what exactly do you think the iPad is using to track you? Black magic?M

  27. Jay Says:

    Apologies to Mike, btw. I see he was first in making a “black magic” reference/joke. lol.

  28. Alex Says:

    I need to get in on this discussion. Thursday I took my iPad up to around 10,000 feet and it worked great in the Cessna 182. It plotted my position just fine from Chino to Big Bear Lake. I have no explanation for yours, Joey, not working above 3,000 feet, but it clearly does in the Southern California area. And I have no subscription to the AT&T. I do have the WingX Pro7 application for air navigation. I will be calling Hilton Software tomorrow and see if I can get some better information and get back. They should know if they are writing software to integrate with the 3G device.


  29. Salem Says:

    I have iPhone 3G with ios 4 and my gps works fine upto 41000 feet.( max altitude for my aircraft)
    I have iPhone 4 and iPad 3g +wifi both with latest 4.2.1
    They work fine on ground using gps satellites only,but as soon as I pass 5700 feet, I lose the gps function and no position,direction or altitude indication.
    Hey Steve fix this one please.
    3G better than latest gadgets?RIDICULOUS

  30. sag Says:

    I’m amazed at by the lack of knowledge re: GPS solution for present position calculations. Unless you have intimate knowledge of the hardware and software designs for calculating present position any speculation on GPS, A-GPS, tringulation, etc. is SPECULATION. Reader beware, most of these posts are bogus

  31. niall Says:

    I think you might have the answers i want.
    Researching the suitability of an i-pad with mapping sotware such as hema maps for travelling on the mainland. (out of sg range.
    what model ipad you got and mapping software.

  32. Mark Says:

    Thank you for this information. I’m sailing narrow channels 20 miles offshore from Key West and plan to use NavIpad on my iPhone 4S. I do not expect any problems. I will follow up with a note on my experience for your records. If you have any suggestions, then please let me know.Thanks again.

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