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I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy Gio (GT-S5660). When I try to connect to the GPS satellites, 75% of the time the built-in GPS is unable to locate me within a few minutes. I keep seeing the blinking GPS icon. The other 25% of the time I get a GPS signal within 15 seconds.

Is this unusual behavior? If yes, what can I do to find the cause of the problem? Are there any known "death grip" issues related to GPS chips?

I should note that I don't have a data subscription for my phone and I've disabled mobile internet on my device, but I have offline maps (certain areas in Google Maps and my entire country in MapDroid) so the GPS chip should be able to operate without data or WiFi.

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I wonder if it's a similar problem to the Galaxy S. You could try some of the tools from the answer to this, but the rest won't apply. –  Matthew Read Aug 12 '11 at 15:36
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9 Answers

Apparently Samsung has a lot of problems handling the GPS feature.

It is no news that the Galaxy S is really flawed regarding location (see this). Personally, using one, I have felt the pain, as I had the same problems. I don't know if the problem is the same with the Gio, but some of the things I've tried were:

  • Turn GPS off and then back on;
  • Reboot the phone;
  • Bang my head on the wall.

It also appears that the problem tends to be resolved by upgrading the OS. What is yours?

More: there are several ways to reduce the GPS problem on the SGS, check that thread out, I hope you get some ideas for your problem.

Personally, I don't think the "death grip" is a problem, nevertheless you can make some tests to check out if it really makes a difference (I actually don't know where the GPS receiver is located within the phone).

The fact that you have no Internet connection is also not a factor.

Also make note that you can obtain a course location via network triangulation and/or wifi networks.

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I'm on 2.2 Froyo, waiting for an official Gingerbread update. –  Pieter Aug 12 '11 at 15:53
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Without a data plan you actually have two big problems with GPS.

Firstly without a dataplan the coarse location via network triangulation or wifi networks won't work properly, as your phone needs to query Google's central database of phone network tower IDs, Wifi point IDs and their location, this is a huge amout of data that's updating constantly, so your phone only ever has a small cache of recent data for the location near where it was last needed. This means that with no dataplan your phone can't quickly get your rough location to help it out (coarse location is accurate to anywhere from about 30m to 2 miles depending on your location, better in more urban areas, and you're missing out on this).

If you have no data then another problem you'll have is that your phone will almost never have the current assisted GPS data. The GPS satellites periodically transmit an almanac of all their current, precise actual locations (which can vary from their predicted locations by quite a long way for various reasons), this data is only transmitted by the satellites on a very slow bandwidth transmission, rebroadcasting a few times an hour. Most phones just connect to a server over the internet to quickly grab this almanac data, yours needs to wait until it's received the entire message from the satellites before it can properly calculate your location.

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Is it feasible to cache some of this information beforehand, if only just for a certain radius around a certain lat/long coordinate? –  Pieter Aug 18 '11 at 11:36
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@Pieter The assisted GPS data can be downloaded and cached beforehand over Wifi and this is valid worldwide for a few days (you can use an app like GPS Status that will tell you how old the data is, and will force a download if necessary market.android.com/details?id=com.eclipsim.gpsstatus2) the wifi/cell tower data is only valid for fairly small geographical areas, so I don't know how you'd cache that in advance for travelling. –  GAThrawn Aug 18 '11 at 15:55
    
After downloading the assisted GPS data, I still had trouble connecting to the GPS satellites. –  Pieter Aug 20 '11 at 7:04
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I have Galaxy 3 (GT-I5800) and 7" Galaxy Tab at hand, and I can confirm their GPS performance is abysmal. It also seems to deteriorate over time.. unless I'm imagining things.

The best way to get lock is to be outside, stand still and open the Google Maps. It can still take minutes and sometimes it just doesn't get lock at all, but if you move, or start some random Android app first, you can keep going for half an hour and not get a lock once.

My guess is that Samsung engineers are just plain bad at designing GPS antennas and the software side is not brilliant either.

I don't know how the GPS could get worse over time except some connector coming loose or drivers accumulating crappy data, but that's how it feels in practice. The effect remained the same on the Galaxy 3 after upgrade from Android 2.1 to 2.2. If anything, it went worse.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I discovered an app called GPS Test that assists in finding satellites by showing how many are currently in view. Basically, I just move my phone around until I can pick up enough satellites. Then I hold it still until my position has been locked in. After the lock-in I just use my phone like I normally would.

I look like an idiot when I try to pick up a GPS signal by holding my phone up weirdly, but at least it works now.

For those of you who are interested, you can find a full write-up of my solution here. You can download the app for free on the Google Play Store.

By the way, I'm on Gingerbread now. Samsung has released an official update since I posted my question a few weeks ago. As far as I can tell, the GPS reception didn't improve after updating.

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If your net is enable, The agps module would be active, which can accelerate satellites searching. In my experience, if your apgs is active, you would locate your location in 5s~10s(find day). That only gps locate your location is so slow that any guys can`t bear it. :-). So, try enable your wifi/3G net.

By the way, the gps chip manufacturer provide an agps server, your mobile pad will connect this server by your net while you start gps location. Sometimes, the server can not be accessed, but it`s little possibility.

May good luck!

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I found out that I can access GpsTest2 (similar to LbsTestMode) using the access code

*#*#3214789650#*#*

Could this help in trying any possible fixes? My default settings are M-Based, supl.google.com:7276.

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I also recently purchased the Galaxy Gio S5660 and was quite disappointed as it seemed the GPS did not work at all. I had to enable the location assist just to get some form of location that seemed vaguely accurate and even then its best only went to 120m accuracy.

I installed both GPS Test (as mentioned by Pieter above) and GPSFix from the android store and now I get up to 4m accuracy indoors. I have not tested this in real navigation conditions as yet but the change so far is very impressive.

It seems both GPS Test and GPSFix improve the AGPS functionality by updating some information on the phone. GPS Test does this via the menu - Settings - Update AGPS. To check I restarted the phone and then tried GPS Test again. Within 20 seconds I had a fix with 4m accuracy. I was not moving during my tests which can also have an impact as suggested by others.

I also have the Galaxy S2 and found that the S2 detect the satellites from the same location with much better strength. This to me indicate the antenna of the Gio is not that good. I attempted to change the position of the phone, removed the back cover, and tried some strange looking stances but no real improvement.

My phone configuration:

Samsung Galaxy Gio GT-S5660

Android: 2.2.1

Baseband: S5660XXKB9

Kernel: 2.6.32.9-perfroot@DELL104 #1

Build: FROYO.XXKC4

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Typing *#*#3214789650#*#* worked for me once gpstest2 opens up you can then go to commands->Get position it gave me lock on some satellites and i was able to get my accurate position in maps without WiFi and gprs

I also found a useful app in android market known as 'gpsFix' which pretty much does the same thing but it had trouble finding satellites when i was indoors.

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try installing "gps booster" from the android market (nay, google play). It runs automatically once you start your gps and enhances the performance of the in-built GPS unit. To maintain a gps lock you can also consider installing tracker booster. it's easy to use and can be run in the background. I hope this helps.

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There are two GPS Booster apps, this by Snowak and this by octy. Which do you refer to? –  Zuul Aug 2 '12 at 19:25
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I find it hard to believe that an app could improve the GPS performance. –  Flow Aug 2 '12 at 21:16
    
@Flow Likewise. My end goal here is to improve the answer by placing the links, saving future readers the effort of search the apps. –  Zuul Aug 2 '12 at 21:20
    
@Zuul This was not meant to be criticism or alike. I can't even rule out that the apps do in fact work. It was just meant as side note. –  Flow Aug 2 '12 at 22:13
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