Guide for Speeding Up GPS Signal Acquisition on Nokia Cell Phones

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There are several easy steps users can take to speed up their Symbian based devices GPS coordinate signals. From new software to properly setting your GPS for optimal performance continue reading below and follow the simple how-to-guide steps I’ve laid out and you’ll be on your way to better overall GPS performance on your Nokia N95 or other Symbian phone.

1. Firmware Is Your Friend

If you were to take the first version of the Nokia N95 and try to connect to your Nokia Maps program you’d probably quickly realize that the seconds it should take to connect quickly turns into sometimes minutes. However if you took a newly firmware updated Nokia N95 the coordinate tracking times would drop to a mere few seconds. The reason for this is simple, new firmware upgrades oftentimes offer fixes for items such as GPS and Assisted GPS settings, which means your device becomes more capable at using the services the manufacturer promised to deliver in the first place. Think of the first generation of a new handset as a beta version, while the new firmware is the full release. I know its a little backwards but my Nokia N95 proved that very point.

2. Hold Still For Ultimate Location Fixes

2. While GPS capabilities have improved over time, the use of GPS receivers in cell phones are far from perfect, in the case of movement its better to stand still when trying to receive a GPS fix, of course once you’re coordinates are locked into place you can walk around, go for a jog, heck you can even drive down the highway with pinpoint accuracy in most cases. Remember that you aren’t simply locking in one satellite, but rather in some cases up to 20 separate signals, if you move around like crazy its going to be harder for those signals to triangulate your exact location.

3. Check Your Settings

For the best GPS fixes via your phone provider make sure you have your GPS software synced to your phone provider. You can accomplish this by going to Settings followed by General then Positioning and finally Positioning server. In that section you’ll find an access point which should be set for your cellular providers 3G data network, for instance AT&T’s 3G network.

4. Covering Your GPS Antenna Is Not Helping Your Cause

This step may take some research on your part, I can tell you that on the Nokia N95 series the GPS receiver is located by the keypad, so I wouldn’t suggest gripping that area when trying to find GPS satellites. I also wouldn’t recommend using a phone case that wraps around your phone, although this shouldn’t have too much effect. You may need to find out from your phones manufacturer exactly where the GPS on your device is located, but once you find it don’t block it when acquiring a signal.

5. Limit “Other” Functions While Looking For A GPS Signal

While not as proven as other steps its important to remember that built-in GPS receivers work best when a low power output is surrounding them, if you have your bluetooth off, your phones antenna off, and other high output power sources turned off there’s a good chance you’ll receive a faster signal. Again this isn’t as proven but i’ve noticed at least some difference in acquisition times.

6. Find A Clear View Of The Sky

GPS satellites are in the sky, and for that reason just like a Dish Network satellite you’ll need a clear view of the sky in order to find a GPS signal, if you’re around tall building, or even tall trees or an awning there’s a good chance you won’t receive a signal, or that the signal can take minutes to find. Avoid areas that block your view of the sky and you should have no problem pulling up GPS towers.


I personally have used the steps above on my Nokia N95, however they will also work on Sony Ericsson phones, other Nokia phones and GPS based devices in general. The Symbian OS offers great Assisted GPS capabilities along with excellent support for built-in GPS receivers, however with the amount of technology pumped into most cellular devices these days every little bit helps. Follow these steps and I’m pretty sure you’ll see increased productivity out of your GPS-based Symbian cellular device.