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Top 5 best free sat nav apps for 2017

By Hannah Walsh

Get from A to B without spending a penny – these top-performing free sat nav apps will keep you on the right road.

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We put free sat nav apps through the same tough tests as paid-for apps or standalone sat nav devices. We’ve even tested the latest apps from sat nav giants Garmin and TomTom. 

In the past, apps struggled to keep up – small phone screens made maps difficult to read, and smartphones simply weren’t fast enough to make the instructions useful. There are still some apps that aren’t up to scratch, with such poor audio and visual guidance that they’re useless – even though they’re free.

But free sat nav apps have improved in the past few years, and the best will now get you from A to B with brilliantly clear vocal and visual guidance, as well as advanced features that used to be reserved for pricey devices. Whatever you’re looking for from a free sat nav app, you’ll find the best option for you below.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our free sat nav app recommendations in the table below. If you're not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?.

Best free sat nav apps 2017

TomTom GPS Navigation Traffic (Android)
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Nov 2016
Best Buy
Overall navigation quality:
4 out of 5
Overall quality of audio instructions:
4 out of 5
Overall ease of use:
4 out of 5
Traffic monitoring:
Member exclusive

This app offers 50 miles of free navigation a month, perfect for the occasional driver. The spoken instructions are clear, and you can buy a subscription for unlimited navigation if you need to.

Waze GPS Navigation, Maps & Traffic (iOS)
Which? score 67%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Overall navigation quality:
4 out of 5
Overall quality of audio instructions:
4 out of 5
Overall ease of use:
4 out of 5
Traffic monitoring:
Member exclusive

Waze is a community-driven sat nav app that's completely free for navigation and traffic services. We've been impressed by Waze in the past, so can this updated version take the place of your trusted sat nav? Read our full review of this sat nav app to find out.

Here WeGo - Effortless city navigation (iOS)
Which? score 66%
Reviewed Oct 2016
Overall navigation quality:
4 out of 5
Overall quality of audio instructions:
4 out of 5
Overall ease of use:
4 out of 5
Traffic monitoring:
Member exclusive

Helpful vocal instructions and clear visual guidance combined with free maps and traffic data make this a good choice.

Google Maps (iOS)
Which? score 61%
Reviewed Oct 2016
Overall navigation quality:
3 out of 5
Overall quality of audio instructions:
3 out of 5
Overall ease of use:
4 out of 5
Traffic monitoring:
Member exclusive

This app offers worldwide mapping for free, but can it replace your full sat nav?

Not found the product for you? Browse all of our sat nav and sat nav app reviews.

And here are three free sat nav apps to avoid

We’ve found some sat nav apps just aren’t worth downloading, despite being free. Cluttered mapping, confusing audio and visual guidance, and difficult-to-use menus make some free sat nav apps a nightmare to use. These Don’t Buys are sure to lead you up the garden path.

Don’t Buy sat nav apps

Michelin ViaMichelin: GPS, Traffic, Speedcam, Route Planner (iOS)
Which? score 43%
Reviewed Oct 2016
Don't buy
Overall navigation quality:
3 out of 5
Overall quality of audio instructions:
3 out of 5
Overall ease of use:
4 out of 5
Traffic monitoring:
Member exclusive

This sat nav app for iOS may be free, but the vocal and visual guidance is flawed, and it will be more of a hindrance than a help while driving.

Navmii GPS World (Navfree) (Android)
Which? score 41%
Reviewed Feb 2016
Don't buy
Overall navigation quality:
3 out of 5
Overall quality of audio instructions:
3 out of 5
Overall ease of use:
1 out of 5
Traffic monitoring:
Member exclusive

Inaccurate and unclear visual guidance means you could end up driving in circles. Route recalculation is one of the slowest we've seen, too.

Michelin ViaMichelin: Route GPS Traffic (Android)
Which? score 39%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Don't buy
Overall navigation quality:
2 out of 5
Overall quality of audio instructions:
3 out of 5
Overall ease of use:
4 out of 5
Traffic monitoring:
Member exclusive

This app disappointed in our tests - there’s plenty to dislike about it, including confusing audio instructions, unclear visual guidance, and a lack of features and functions. There are niggles with everyday use, too.

Is it worth paying for a dedicated sat nav?

We’ve found some great free sat nav apps that are easy to download and try, but in our experience even the very best won’t provide you with quite the same experience as a dedicated sat nav. The quality of the guidance may depend on the smartphone you have too.

Traditional sat navs are built with navigation in mind and this means they usually have good speakers so audio guidance can be easily heard, and matte screens to avoid car windscreen reflections and ensure visual cues are readable. Paying for a dedicated device often means you’ll get a few more features thrown in too, including live traffic updates and speed camera warnings. Some newer models have built-in dashboard cameras too.

Many paid-for sat nav apps include decent features, but with others you may have to pay a subscription fee to unlock them. If you’re unsure whether a sat nav app or dedicated sat nav is for you, use our interactive tool on our how to buy the best sat nav page.

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