Top five best sat nav apps for 2020
By Hannah Walsh
If you’ve previously used a sat nav unit in your car, you may well scoff at the thought of a humble sat nav app being able to take its place. Once upon a time, you would have been right – when we first began testing sat nav apps, they were slow, not very clear, and simply couldn’t hold a candle to a dedicated device. And for some, this is still the case.
But other sat nav apps have come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, and the very best will get you from A to B just as smoothly as a dedicated device. They will also have excellent visual and audio guidance to save you from having to make any last-minute dashes across lanes; clear maps; plenty of advanced features; and user-friendly interfaces. They’re convenient, too, and will have you on the road at the touch of a button.
Here, we’ve picked out the best sat nav apps from our tests. We’ve included apps for Android and iOS, as well as paid-for and free options, so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
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Top five 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.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of March 2017.
Not found the sat nav app for you? Browse all of our sat nav app reviews.
And here are three to avoid
The worst sat nav apps from our testing are bad enough to be Don’t Buys – frankly, we think they should just get lost. Cluttered mapping, and confusing audio and visual guidance and menus make the worst sat nav apps a nightmare to use, and you’ll find yourself headed off-course before you know it.
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.
Should I use a free sat nav app?
We all like the sound of ‘free’ and, no matter what your smartphone platform, there are a variety of free apps available. In our testing, we’ve found that they can be hit and miss though. They may cost nothing, but some have such poor guidance and a lack of features that even that still isn’t good value. Others are sponsored, so will have annoying banners and pop-ups.
We put free sat nav apps through the same tough tests as paid-for apps and standalone sat nav devices, so you can be sure that any free sat nav app we recommend will get you to your destination with no problems. The very best provide a similarly smooth experience to standalone sat nav devices. You can find our pick of the top options in our best free sat nav apps guide.