Navigating with your Phone

Cheryl Tay
2 Dec 2011

Mobile phones as a navigation device

Should you want to use your phone as a GPS, get a car dock to mount the phone akin to a conventional GPS.

Killing two birds with one stone by doubling up your mobile phone and using it as a GPS is a solution that many are turning to these days. This helps to save some dollars without having to purchase a separate GPS for the car, but it might also mean having your phone battery drain out quicker than if you do not use it as a GPS. 

I took two phones for a drive to see how well they work out as driving companions. Should you want to use your phone as a GPS, I would suggest getting a car dock to mount the phone akin to a conventional GPS, as it is against the law to use your phone while driving, be it for a phone call, SMS or getting directions.

Nokia N9

This is a looker – sleek, slim and of bright colours that would definitely catch the eye of others. The Nokia N9 MeeGo smartphone has a glassy 3.9-inch AMOLED screen which is very clear and bright, with no buttons on the chassis except for the volume and power keys on the side. A micro-SIM card is used, like Apple, and there is no button for the home menu. There is a non-removable chargeable battery too, which might be a bummer for people who need extra batteries should there be no ready access to a charging source throughout the day. 

Press the power key or just double tap on the screen to get the phone started and a swipe of the screen would unlock the phone. Navigating around the phone is done with more swipes. 

What would be useful about the Nokia N9 for drivers would be the Drive app and the Nokia Maps. The Drive app is pretty useful, with turn-by-turn drive and walk navigation that comes with voice guidance and a map with 3D landmarks. 

The Nokia Maps are free and they are facilitated with your provider’s data plan instead of the satellites, so they load quite quickly on the phone, even indoors. This also means that I could leave the phone on my lap instead of putting it on the dashboard to try and get a signal. The pre-loaded maps in the N9 are like Google Maps, with an option to plan the route by public transport, walking or driving. 

The N9 made quite a cool driving companion, but the phone is a bit too slippery to the touch with its slim frame and smooth texture. There were occasions when it would slip out of my hands onto the car floor and I could only retrieve it at the next stop light or pull over to stop.


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