Does GPS In SmartPhone Use Internet Data Plan?

By Anil Gupta,  20 Nov, 17       15  Finance

GPS in smartphone does use internet if you don’t have maps downloaded. Google maps has offline maps saving feature and may not use mobile data.

You bought a smartphone recently and want to use its GPS navigation service, but are not sure if it actually uses your mobile’s internet service or not?

Well, this is a most common question that each one of us would have and I am trying to dig deep into how the whole thing works here.

What type of hardware do I need to run GPS service?

You need a GPS receiver which comes as a built in feature in almost all smartphones (like Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy versions and iPhones etc.) today.

Do I need an Internet connection to use GPS?

No. There is no internet connection required to use GPS services but that does not mean that you can use the map navigation only with GPS receiver. Read on to find more.

Where all can GPS work?

GPS reception is available around the globe. You will need to have a clear view of the skies so the receiver can triangulate at least three satellites. An office window works well, but you may have problems receiving signals in the inner area of buildings. In general, metal blocks GPS signals, while glass, wood, or plastic does not.

So, How does the whole concept work and what are the connection points?

GPS receiver is a hardware which is normally available in most smartphones these days. This receiver can fetch the location data from satellite FREE of cost. But this data is in raw form and you need an application (like Google maps) which can actually process this data for you and show you the directions on a map.

Remember, GPS receiver does not help you with maps on its own. A map generally contains all the places embedded in it along with latitude and longitude information.
Most companies today sell this portion along with their application to show the navigation user screens.

Once you download and install the maps and the application, you don’t need an internet connection on mobile i.e. no data charges would apply at the time of searching for locations while travelling.

This essentially means that if you do not download the maps initially and try to use the GPS application to find directions while travelling, the application will try to download the maps on the fly and this will definitely need an active internet connection and hence the data charges on your mobile phone would apply.

Your location changes quite frequently while travelling pushing the GPS navigation application to download quite a number of maps and would consume good amount of data.

GPS in Smartphone

GPS in Smartphone

Does GOOGLE MAPS GPS use internet data?

Google maps application is FREE to use but they do need area maps to be downloaded.
As of updating this article on 8 Aug 2016, they do allow offline or without internet access of their maps, if you have downloaded them earlier on your mobile.

If not downloaded, and you use Google maps to find directions using your own FREE GPS receiver (installed in your smartphone), it would still need your mobile internet connection to get maps on the go and show you directions.

What if I use GPS while travelling in another country? Will it cost something in roaming?

Ideally no charge should be levied if you are only using GPS receiver with the maps of that country already available on your smartphone i.e. no new download required. The map navigation software that you are using should be able to use the maps on your phone’s memory along with your GPS receiver to find the location (latitude and longitude) and show you the way.

Remember, Google maps (if maps not already available) would need the internet connection and would incur internet data charges in roaming.


So, the crux of the story is that even though you have a GPS receiver in your phone and GPS reception is FREE around the globe, you would still need to download and install the maps and the user application that helps you use the GPS information for navigation. There are many companies which provide maps and the navigation application free of costs and can be found on internet or Android and iPhone app stores.

  • bob

    Google Maps now offers an offline feature… you’ll need to have a connection and can download for a specific area or city. You then save each area you’re interested in. Search for “OK Maps”, its better explained there 🙂

  • Yes. that’s true bob. I appreciate your feedback.

  • Pulkit

    this article has cleared certain doubts, thanks.

  • Thanks Pulkit. I appreciate your feedback.

  • Bhaskar

    Thanks for the information. Its really helpful.

  • You are welcome Bhaskar.

  • jatin

    Help full Information thanks

  • You are welcome Jatin.



    i have vehicle of tavera. i kept on hire in one of the software company in hyd. but the driver of my vehicle is not running properly. when i asked him where he is. he replying unsuitable reasons. . i want to know where is my vehicle on every movement. how can i do. and what can i do. please reply me on “”

    –with regards.

  • Hi,
    You can install GPS tracker in your vehicle. Most of the Cab companies these days install this device to track down their cab location.
    Search for ‘GPS tracker for cabs’ on google and you will find many options.

  • greg

    I am walking around using Google Maps, my Data is Turned Off, but the GPS is still giving me live detail information of my location. What is being used to download this data?

  • A GPS receiver (hardware) is in-built in all smartphone these days. It does not need data connection to find your location as it connects with satellite to get latitute and longitude information and then show you, your location.

    You would need internet connection if you want to use LIVE maps.

    In case you have downloaded maps for offline use, you can see maps too with your location with data turned off.

  • nilesh

    Dear Anil,

    i had a blackberry passport which my cousin had bought it from the USA..after 3 months it wasnt functioning normally ,so my cousin told me to send the phone back as his friend was in india and was about to fly to the US next day.Blackberry found out the issue with the phone and gave a new blackberry as a replacement.Now the question is that can my cousin send the phone through courier,and will i have to pay any customs.

  • Yes, there will be custom duty on the phone, if it is sent by courier. If you can prove that it is indeed a replacement for the old phone, you may get a relief. You can just ask your cousin to attach relevant proofs to the package (along with sending one copy to you; you can scan and print them).

    But, did your cousin paid the duty, the first time he brought this phone to India? I am sure, he would have not!

    In this case, it would be difficult to evade the custom duty.

    The best way is to ask someone to carry it back.

    If you still planning to get it couriered and wondering how much would be the duty, then here are the details:

  • Mickson Wallie

    I have a big penis will this obstruct the GPS signal