Should you buy a conventional portable sat nav? It can be difficult to see the point, particularly given the ever expanding choice of free sat nav apps, which give you accurate, point-to-point directions, all built into your mobile phone. Or at least in theory.
Our independent lab tests put these free sat nav apps through their paces to determine those that will take the stress out of navigating even the most complicated or congested roads, and those that will leave you frustrated with vague instructions and unclear maps, diverting your attention from the road more than necessary.
However, unless you’re a casual user, or have a high-end smartphone that will showcase a sat nav app at its best, you may find a dedicated portable sat nav is easier to follow and simpler to program.
You’ll need a reasonably generous data allowance, too, if you plan on using most sat nav apps with any regularity. Our latest batch includes updated versions of popular apps, as well as a brand new contender, for both iOS and Android devices.
Keep reading to find out more and click on the links to read our full reviews.
Find out which sat navs and sat navs apps excel in our tests – best sat navs.
Telenav (free sat nav app)
Telenav is a fresh new free sat nav app for both iOS (Apple) and Android devices that won’t cost you anything to download and can be used offline.
However, it requires in-app purchases to access certain functions, so will need to be exceptionally good to compete against the raft of completely free-to-use alternatives.
It comes with some clever touches: not only can users select routes suitable for both pedestrians and cyclists, the app also has a function to select the most tranquil route, for the most relaxed drive home.
Head over to our independent Telenav reviews to find out how it stacks up against the competition:
Navmii (free sat nav app)
The Navmii app, available for both Android and iOS devices, was originally launched back in 2016 and has been through a range of updates for 2019.
It remains free to download and use, and features community-based traffic data, sourced from the travel data of other app users.
Previously, the Navmii app was functional but not slick or easy enough to use to warrant a Best Buy rating from us. It’s not been completely changed, but subtle revisions have been made with an aim to improve the app’s navigation experience.
There’s also a new version available to iOS users, with maps solely of the UK and Republic of Ireland. We’ve reviewed this iteration separately.
Have the updates improved the Navmii app? See our expert reviews to find out:
- Navmii Offline GPS World (iOS)
- Navmii GPS World (Navfree) (Android)
- Navmii Offline GPS UK & ROI (iOS)
Mapfactor GPS Navigation Maps (free app)
The Mapfactor sat nav app is free to download, free to use and doesn’t require a data connection. On the face of it, the Mapfactor app (solely available for Android) is the ideal solution for those wanting a quick and easy navigation experience.
Mapfactor also offers route customisation for vehicles such as trucks, bicycles and motorhomes – unusual for a free sat nav app.
Map downloads are a manageable size, so you won’t take up all your phone’s available storage space or worry about preserving your monthly data allowance.
However, we’ve tested previous iterations of this app, and weren’t particularly blown away. Can the changes to the navigation experience, including to both audio and visual guidance, bring the Mapfactor app into contention?
Find out just how the latest version of this app fares in our tests – see our Mapfactor GPS Navigation Maps review.
ViaMichelin (free app)
Michelin may be known as a premium tyre brand and purveyor of travel guides, but it’s been a presence in the sat nav app market for some time.
We first tested its ViaMichelin apps – available for both iOS and Android – back in 2016. Both versions have been updated for 2019, but are still free to use, with community-sourced live traffic information.
Maps can’t be downloaded for offline use, but our tests reveal just how data and battery intensive both version of the app are, so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Check out our expert ViaMichelin reviews:
- Michelin ViaMichelin: GPS, Route Planner (iOS)
- Michelin ViaMichelin: GPS Traffic Speedcam Router Planner (Android)
Need more help choosing?
If you can’t decide whether a dedicated sat nav or sat nav app would be best for you, our guide on how to buy the best sat nav will help you out.