Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Review: GPS Performance and Apps

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet is a Wi-Fi only device but does include a GPS radio for maps and navigation. Samsung also sells a car mount that will work with the Tab 2 (made for the Tab 7.0 Plus), indicating that the company expects users to use the tablet in place of a standalone GPS or phone.

Is this practical? Depends on your needs. The Galaxy Tab 2 is capable of directing you where you need to go, but without a constant connection that task won’t work as smoothly as using a GPS device or phone. With the right combination of apps it can be done.

I decided to test the Tab 2 7.0 using Google Maps Navigation, Waze and Navfree USA.

Read: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Full Review

GPS Without 3G / 4G

The Tab 2′s GPS radio doesn’t rely on location information from a 3G/4G connection to work. However, leaving the Wi-Fi on, even when it’s not connected, can improve location accuracy just as it does on a smartphone.

You can turn on GPS and Wi-Fi enabled location under Settings > Location services.

Location Services

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While not having cellular connection doesn’t much impact accuracy, it does mean that you can’t get directions while on your way somewhere. Also, if you’re en-route and need to recalculate because you missed a turn or run into massive traffic, the Tab 2 can’t pull down new data.

Performance

Waze GPS App

Waze Navigating

With offline map data (which I’ll get to in a bit) the Tab 2 was able to accurately pinpoint my location 75% of the time. The other 25% it was off by a few feet, but never more than that.

Both on foot and in a moving vehicle, apps were able to tell when I was approaching turn points and how far until the next one.

Using Navigation Apps

To navigate when you don’t have constant connectivity users must start the navigation when you have a connection so the app can pull down the initial data or get an app that keeps maps stored in memory.

The first method is good for short trips. Google Maps will pre-load some map data once it knows the destination and begins the navigation process. Users can also manually cache 10-mile sections of map data for offline access.

Google Maps cache

Waze cached up to 4 miles of map data so that I could navigate to my destination even when offline.

However, for longer trips the situation gets iffy. Waze didn’t have street information after about 4 miles, thus making it useless. (There is offline functionality in the iOS version, apparently.) Google Navigation did much better. It was able to show me map data for an entire 600 mile trip even when offline.

Google Maps Navigation

Neither app could give me any help if I deviated from the route provided.

Navfree USA, a GPS app designed specifically to work offline, doesn’t require online access to find addresses and begin navigation or to recalculate mid-trip. The main drawback is that some users found the maps inaccurate. I didn’t for the locations I tried. Map updates are available for free.

Navfree USA

The Bottom Line

Though the GPS is accurate, I wouldn’t use the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for GPS navigation on a long trip unless I have a mobile hotspot for connectivity.

  

Comments

  1. Lovendo says

    Hi, nice review! Is it possible that you confirm if the vehicle car mount made for the Tab 7 plus works with the Tab 2 7.0? Thank you.

  2. Jack says

    Why not just tether it to your mobile phone`s internet connection? Surely you have a cellphone?

  3. Kevin Talley says

    I don’t understand your comparison. Does a nuvi GPS also have some other connection for data? I thought it already has the data and was just sophisticated enough to recalculate on the fly. Sounds to me like it is just a program flaw.

  4. nowajedi says

    For those who are considering buying a samsung galaxy for sat nav, this review is misleading imho & this has annoyed me because it may put people off who havent tried it! The hardware is awesome and offline sat nav software is available but needs to be chosen according to your needs and is only going to get better over time. I have had an offline galaxy for a long time and it is brilliant for this purpose. What the reviewer is referring to is ‘potential theoretical’ limitations in software which is dependant upon online data like google maps..so use offline software. But they also question the hardware and give you the impression it is inadequate without assisted gps (using wifi hotspots) – this is not true & if you look at their actual experience (facts) they say that the gps ‘is accurate’ and when they used the only offline map sat nav s/w they reviewed (nav free which is what ive used and rely on) they admit the maps were accurate and they had no issues either hardware or software. Lets be factual about this, the galaxy has very fast accurate gps, better than my standalone bluetooth reciever which cost alot. Go into a store & try first fixing on gpstest – i did & it had 15 sats in 16 secs first fix IN THE STORE. So if youre going to review the tab, examine the hardware & dont condemn it because of certain software. You could use copilot which I have used & is good, but has its glitches like any software. At least with Android you have a choice of s/w which is always being updated & perfected, so its the hardware thats most vital & the galaxy in my opinion & by experience is excellent. I am very interested in other peoples actual experience of using a samsung galaxy with proper offline sat nav software. Please comment so people can get the truth about this matter. I hope this helps :)

  5. J. says

    I agree with “nowajedi”

    Last time I went travelling I could not use my ipad mini for navigation because it did not have GPS(wifi only.). I did not want to tether as I would have incurred huge roaming charges. So I used my old Samsung tablet. I downloaded GPS software and used the tablet’s GPS. It was great! Turn by turn direction, even telling me what lane I should be in. It was very accurate.

    I did have to pay for the maps but it was well worth it in what I saved in possible roaming charges as well as time. I don’t know if there are free versions of the maps I used but for me it was worth paying. I can now get turn by turn directions on all continents. I think a lot of people nowadays want the best possible experience but don’t want to pay a cent for it. They expect everything to be for free.

    I plan to buy the 7 inch Samsung soon.

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