#903506 by vizbiz
19 May 2015, 07:39
I have a PAYG HTC One (on EE) that I don't use for much complicated stuff, however with an upcoming trip to LA coming up, wondered if the phone would be usable in the US as a cheap SatNav? I have google-maps installed, and frankly that's all I need to navigate. Rather than using paper printed maps(!) it would be nice to use what is a powerful phone for navigating, but the fact that its PAYG may be a problem?

My question really is more about the phone being on a UK PAYG contract (so data is not cheap!) and could I use it to download data w/o paying through the nose?

All suggestions welcome on clever solutions to this,

Thank you!
#903511 by Hull
19 May 2015, 08:48
Hi vizbiz,

There are two options that I can think of

1 Install the TomTom App on your phone, I got the US version for my iPhone a few years ago for around £30 this option does not use any data.

2 If your HTC is not locked to EE you can get a Three PAYG sim and for a £15 top up on their "feel at home" you get free calls and text messages to the UK and data to use abroad (not sure how much data, but I have never run out).
#903513 by fusionblue
19 May 2015, 09:45
Hull wrote:Hi vizbiz,

There are two options that I can think of

1 Install the TomTom App on your phone, I got the US version for my iPhone a few years ago for around £30 this option does not use any data.

2 If your HTC is not locked to EE you can get a Three PAYG sim and for a £15 top up on their "feel at home" you get free calls and text messages to the UK and data to use abroad (not sure how much data, but I have never run out).


On Three's £15 PAYG plan it's unlimited data. Abroad you can only use 25GB per month on 3G only.
#903514 by mitchja
19 May 2015, 09:46
EE have a roaming data system where you need to buy a roaming add-on to use data abroad (you buy it once you arrive at your destination). Once you use the add-on up you roaming data simply stops so there are no unexpected roaming data charges on EE.

Forget the Tom Tom app (the US version is £38) as there are far cheaper (and better IMHO) apps than that available that don't need data as the maps work offline. I use CoPilot where the app itself is free, you just buy the maps you require. It works offline so no mobile/cellular data is required. It cost me about £8 for the US maps. Details here

I wouldn't want to relay on cellular data when driving using a SatNav.
#903515 by abraxias
19 May 2015, 09:48
During my current trip I bought an ATT sim for $45 that included 1.5Gb of data and was valid for one month. Good thing about it was that once your allowance was used up, it simply dropped the speed down to 3G from 4G rather than cutting you off.

Not the cheapest solution, but it's worked perfectly well since I got here.
#903517 by starquake
19 May 2015, 10:31
In LA using PAYG will likely be fine. However on a long roadtrip you will have miles, and days without signal - so a real satnav is really a requirement.

Even on the interstate in Utah we had hours without signal.
#903518 by vizbiz
19 May 2015, 11:06
Thanks for the reply; couple of questions arise...

1) If I go the tomtom route (which seems to be a well-regarded solution) how does the mobile "know where I am" - does it need to be connected to a 3/4G network or is it working outside of mobile phone connectivity?

2) For the 2nd suggestion, with the 3 SIM would be I connecting to a 3 partner cellular network? Which one?

Thanks for the replies.


Hull wrote:Hi vizbiz,

There are two options that I can think of

1 Install the TomTom App on your phone, I got the US version for my iPhone a few years ago for around £30 this option does not use any data.

2 If your HTC is not locked to EE you can get a Three PAYG sim and for a £15 top up on their "feel at home" you get free calls and text messages to the UK and data to use abroad (not sure how much data, but I have never run out).
#903519 by mitchja
19 May 2015, 11:15
1) The offline map SatNav apps just use your handset's GPS chip.

2) Three roaming in the US use either AT&T or T-Mobile US (EE use the same 2 as well, but also offer 4G/LTE roaming now as well on T-Mobile US).

T-Mobile US 3G roaming is still not available in a few places in the US as they are still in the process of upgrading their 3G network to the same frequency UK 3G handsets use. Where they still use the old frequency for 3G (which many UK handsets won't work on), you will only get 2G/Edge data coverage.

EE charge £8.99 for handset unlocking (either taken from your PAYG credit or just added to your next pay monthly bill) and can be done by filling in this online form.
#903525 by Smid
19 May 2015, 12:13
I wouldn't rely on Three's at home thing. I got 1 Megabyte downloaded over the period of a week, I ended up relying on wifi passwords around the west coast of the US.

I'd not be using google maps via a wifi download, because as soon as you divert (like we did when travelling to Yosemite) it loses track. I believe you might be able to set that to not attempt to reconnect.

My solution was to buy copilot satnav (I think I paid 15 quid), then load up the US and Canada maps as well. I think one was a 4 quid, one was 8 quid. They download all the maps to your phone, if you want it that way (not sure if you can work via net). Got us from Vancouver to Calgary Airport easily enough (after a while the next turn is in 100 miles though).
#903528 by Neil
19 May 2015, 13:49
Another vote for Co-Pilot app. It's a really good Sat Nav, cheap to buy and doesn't use any data.
We've used it numerous times in the USA.
#903563 by Eggtastico
19 May 2015, 22:42
Here is an idea.
Pull the sim card from your phone & try to see if the GPS kicks in & works in the UK.

For Sat Nav - give WAZE a try - its free on android.

I personally would not bother using TOMTOM or at least buying an app - the price of the app, you may as well buy a dedicated device. Kinda false economy. You could always sell the sat nav when you get home.
#903581 by dickydotcom
20 May 2015, 07:42
I use Navfree, which keeps the mapping data on your phone/tablet so no roaming charges for downloading.
It is free and includes a couple of States. I loaded a third and wasn't charged.
Dick D
#903741 by Harpers Tate
22 May 2015, 09:11
No point in paying for either an app or data.

Install either Navmii (was Navfree) or "here" while at home. ("here" is better IMO, as it's currently ad-free, too). "here" is made by Nokia.

And then, either still while at home, or using a "free" WiFi hotspot somewhere, download maps for your chosen app, for whichever state(s) you'll be driving in.

All the above are legitimately completely free to download and use. That's all you need. Turn data off before you switch off for the flight and leave it off till you are back afterwards.

Phones use a composite method to determine their location. They use the same GPS satellite system that standalone Sat-Navs use, and this is assisted by triangulating cell-tower positions. They don't need a data connection to work, as long as the maps are stored onboard, as they are with these apps. Google Maps, on the other hand, does rely on a data connection to obtain the maps; they aren't (easily) cached onboard.
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