Top five best free sat nav apps for 2020
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.
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.
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Best free sat nav apps
If you're using an Android smartphone, we recommend this sat nav app. It's free to download, and you get 50 miles' worth of navigation free each month. Instructions are detailed, maps are clutter-free and vocal guidance is great, particularly on motorways.
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
This free to download app for Android devices gets the basic guidance right and even offers voice recognition. However, it's too frustrating to use, with clunky menus and a lack of even the most basic features. There are much better sat nav apps available.
It may be free, and can calculate routes reasonably quickly, but this app for Apple devices has little going for it other than that. The map and audio instructions can sometimes be difficult to follow, and you'll have to pay extra for speed camera and live traffic information.
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.