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Essential tips for using your sat nav app this summer

Get the most from your sat nav app with our tips and tricks

The last thing you want when discovering the delights of a new place on holiday with a sat nav app is for your smartphone battery to go flat, or to hit your mobile data limit. Our testing reveals which sat nav apps leave you at risk of doing just that.

The convenience of sat nav apps mean they’re perfect for when you’re exploring a new city on foot or out and about on holiday, but some are best avoided.

Thankfully, there are plenty of good sat nav apps to choose from – we’ve tested 33 apps and have found some great Best Buy options. In fact, in our latest round of testing, which included apps from CoPilot, Michelin and Waze, we uncovered another Best Buy.

Read on to find out what to consider when picking the perfect one for your next adventure.

Best Buy sat navs and sat nav apps – find out which sat navs and apps got the green light

Watch your mobile data usage

Our tests reveal dramatic differences in how much data apps use when planning and navigating an 11km journey – the worst uses a whopping 11MB while the best uses only a few kilobytes.

While the new EU roaming charge rules should mean you don’t get a shock when you receive your bill, it’s still annoying to use up your mobile data allowance – particularly if you want to share your holiday snaps on social media. There are a few ways to take back control of your data usage:

Use a data connection – the easiest way to ensure you minimise your data usage is to use a data connection when you can. Even if this just means planning ahead and mapping your route at home, it will make a difference.

Downloading maps – if you think you can do without turn-by-turn GPS navigation services, plan ahead and download the maps you need for your journey.

Pick an offline app or use the offline mode – both Google Maps and Apple Maps let you switch to an offline version, which offers a limited version of the app without navigation features. Picking an offline app, such as CoPilot Europe Offline Sat Nav, will give you the full sat nav app experience without gobbling up your data.

Keep an eye on battery drain

Which phone you use will of course have an impact on battery life, but in our tests we’ve even found big variations between apps on the same smartphone models. In the car you can simply plug your smartphone into the 12V socket, but when hotfooting it around a new city your battery life is an important consideration.

Picking a sat nav app that’s economical with your smartphone battery will more than double the amount of time you’ll get from one charge – the difference between six hours of exploring or a measly three.

 

Picking the best sat nav app will help to conserve your battery life while out and about, but there are a few other things you can try. See our top tips for conserving it by reading our guide to the mobile phones with the best battery life.

I’m talking about good navigation

Whether you’re heading to the beach (boys) or going surfin’ USA, you’ll want to pick a sat nav app with great navigation that rivals the best standalone sat nav devices.

All sat nav apps are put through the same rigorous testing as standalone devices, so you can be sure you’ll get the best navigation with any Best Buy. The top apps from our tests give clear vocal and visual guidance, and are easy to use as well. But we’ve found some that aren’t up to scratch, too – including three Don’t Buy sat nav apps that will leave you walking in circles.

The latest sat nav apps on test

Click on the sat nav apps below to head over to the full review.

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