Cell Phone GPS Service

January 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Many new cell phones including the Samsung Instinct and the iPhone are GPS-enabled. Most major carriers are offering this feature. Consumer Reports tested cell-phone GPS navigation to see how it stacks up against portable GPS units.

Jeff Bartlett with Consumers Reports said, "With cell phones, you usually need to subscribe to a service plan to get navigation information."

That can cost anywhere from $3 dollars a day to $10 dollars a month. Testing showed cell-phone GPS is comparable to that of portable GPS devices. Many carriers offer traffic information, too, a feature people like.

Most cell-phone screens and controls are small compared to a portable device. But like portable units, many g-p-s-enabled cell phones give spoken turn-by-turn directions, so you don't need to look at the screen.

However, a couple of the most popular cell phones, the Google and the iPhone, don't offer spoken directions. "If you're an occasional GPS user, using it for business purposes or on vacation, cell phone-based GPS can be a good alternative," said Bartlett

You want to look for a phone with a large screen and an easy-to-use keyboard, like ones on the Samsung Instinct or the Glyde.

But paying for a monthly GPS subscription for your cell phone can cost as much as buying a dedicated GPS device. If you're a heavy GPS user, Consumer Reports said you're better off getting a low-cost portable unit.

Consumer Reports said a good basic GPS unit is the Garmin Nuvi 200. It's easy to use and costs about $150 dollars.



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