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Sailfish X: a poll on the reliability of GPS functions.

asked 2019-10-16 15:22:46 +0300

Nautilus gravatar image

updated 2019-10-16 15:23:29 +0300

Hi Sailors,

I'm considering moving from my Intex Aqua Fish to Sony Xperia (either X or XA2) with Sailfish X. However, GPS navigation function is a critical feature for me (I'm an enthusiastic hiker), and so far my experience with using GPS on the AF has been rather frustrating. The phone can take forever to find its location upon launch of the GPS services, and it's not really reliable in updating its location. For example, it can show an old location for indefinite time, regardless of whether it's a native or Android navigation app. But I don't know, of course, whether it's an old and powerless hardware, or the OS issue.

Therefore, I would like to collect your opinions on how your experience with the GPS functions on Sailfish X has been so far, before I make an informed transition and purchase a Sony device and a paid license. If anyone has made systematic investigations of the question, your report here would be particularly appreciated.

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What are your location settings?

Federico ( 2019-10-24 09:44:18 +0300 )edit

9 Answers

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answered 2019-10-16 18:39:27 +0300

jollajo gravatar image

From memory I'd say GPS got worse on XA2 in comparison to Jolla C (AquaFish). Actually it's not too bad with native apps such as Pure Maps but not reliable at all on Android apps, such as Here we go. If I start Here we go I also start native app GPS Info, that seems to help.

If you consider to switch phones and GPS is important I'd rather wait for Xperia 10. Recently I read on a Jolla wiki page that GPS is better on the Xperia 10 than on XA2. However it may take a while until you get SFOS for Xperia 10. I'm wondering if we get SFOS for Xperia 10 before Sony stops shipping. ;-)

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Last sentence made my day :D

daywalker ( 2019-10-17 10:51:25 +0300 )edit

Something else to check when Xperia 10 is an option is what Android support it has. I had that issue with the Gemini PDA

ksandom ( 2019-10-18 10:16:05 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-10-16 15:40:57 +0300

Giacomo Di Giacomo gravatar image

updated 2019-10-16 15:41:05 +0300

On the Xperia X, GPS works acceptably fine. On the XA2, though, it takes a long time to get a fix after the GPS is turned on. Sometimes up to 5-10 minutes.

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Getting a fix takes too long (unless you keep location activated all the time) and is too easy to lose again.

Kopekenscheich ( 2019-10-16 18:24:04 +0300 )edit

@Kopekenscheich: Are you referring to X or XA2?

Pohli ( 2019-10-16 19:15:52 +0300 )edit

XA2, sorry.

Kopekenscheich ( 2019-10-17 06:08:19 +0300 )edit

The main issue I have on Xperia X, is that it takes a looong time to get ahold of the signal.

tortoisedoc ( 2019-10-17 20:04:37 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-10-17 12:18:46 +0300

pakman gravatar image

updated 2019-10-17 12:42:49 +0300

I have found the GPS performance to be excellent, using an Xperia X (F5122) and PureMaps. I haven't used any other location apps for a long time now, but this question makes me think that I should try a few others and see how they behave. If I have a chance to do this, I'll report back.

There are hints of an announcement from Jolla coming soon, an upcoming 3.2.x release of SFOS and some news about Android support: maybe you should wait for a little longer before deciding.

EDIT: some more hints in this morning's IRC meeting. See http://merproject.org/meetings/mer-meeting/2019/mer-meeting.2019-10-17-08.00.log.html from 08:39:50 onwards.

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@Nautilus if you have any navigation/location app in particular that you would like me to try out to see how well it works, please let me know. As it happens, I also have a nearly mint single-SIM Xperia X (F5121) that I have been keeping as a spare but I am now thinking of selling. (Bootloader unlockable, but still with the original Android install; version 7 IIRC.) Depending on your location we might work something out, but I still suggest that you wait a short while to see what Jolla announce before you make your decision.

pakman ( 2019-10-17 20:12:10 +0300 )edit

@pakman Besides Pure Maps, I'm also using Maps.Me. If you have time and interest to play around with it, I'll be curious about the results. I'm still waiting for Jolla to reveal their plans regarding Android version of Xperia X, but thanks for your offer!

Nautilus ( 2019-10-18 00:05:16 +0300 )edit

@Nautilus I've just done a quick test: enabled location and started Maps.Me about 40km from, and 10 hours after, my previous use of location. It took 15 seconds for Maps.Me to be up and running, and then another 15s to find my location (this was indoors in a 3-storey apartment block). This is only one data point, but hopefully it gives some indication. I'll try again from time to time. I'll be going on a work trip in a couple of weeks that will take me about 900km away from my home location, and I will see how quickly it can get a location fix then.

pakman ( 2019-10-19 00:34:26 +0300 )edit

@Nautilus I tried another test the other day: I had to drive about 30km in the other direction from last time. Before I started, I switched into flight mode, and then when I reached my destination I enabled location and started Maps.Me. This was still in flight mode, so using GPS only (no possibility of location assistance from cell towers or nearby WiFi points). Again, it took about 15 seconds to start Maps.Me, and then less than 10 seconds to get a fix. This was outdoors.

Over these short distances, I guess that it remembers the satellites that it used last time and tries the same ones again first, so the fix was quick. Next week I am going on my work trip: if I can I'll try the same test again at my destination.

pakman ( 2019-10-23 13:01:21 +0300 )edit

@Nautilus Time to report back from my trip away. When I arrived at my destination, my view off the sky was blocked by buildings for quite a while after I arrived, but after a couple off attempts I got a fix using Map.me after about a minute and a half (without coming out of flight mode). Once I had that, I used GPS quite happily when walking around during my stay. When I returned to my home country, I got a fix without coming out of flight mode after about 40 seconds. I hope that this helps.

Still no sign of the Xperia X-related Android support announcement that we have had hints of; referred to again in comments to this answer: https://together.jolla.com/question/216611/kernel-upgrade-for-xperia-x-and-other-phones/?answer=216629#post-id-216629 - let's see if it gets mentioned again in Thursday's community meeting.

pakman ( 2019-11-12 01:54:15 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-10-17 01:41:17 +0300

WT.Sane gravatar image

I had an X for nearly two years and I only activated gps when really needed. A minute ir two to get a fix was normal. The XA2 seens to be slower and less accurate. But it is still reliable for car navigation and pedestrian navigation in cities. I use Here We Go.

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answered 2019-10-17 03:29:53 +0300

rgp gravatar image

I use Waze on a daily basis on the XA2 plus. I followed the instructions on this site for getting MicroG installed, along with the steps required to get all the items in the MicroG self check, checked (there's a section relevant to GPS). I usually get a fix in Waze within a minute or two, then I get excellent performance*.

I would probably recommend getting the X10 if you are willing to be patient as it took a few months before they managed to get the XA2 into a decent shape, and I'd imagine going from Android 8 to 9 will have other unforeseen bugs that will need quashing.

*I find that Waze needs a true GPS fix before I set a destination, otherwise it fails to find a fix. So I'll start Waze, and then wait for the arrow to point in the direction I'm travelling before selecting an address.

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I use Waze on a daily basis too, and sometimes I did not know which route to take due to late fix. Anyway, I don't experience the need for a fix before setting a destination, which is logic since the GPS does not know you are using Waze or any other application.

Giacomo Di Giacomo ( 2019-10-17 15:46:34 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-10-17 07:52:16 +0300

Elliott gravatar image

I actually just got back from a vacation that involved a lot of hiking, and was also the first time I actually relied on my Sailfish phone (XA2 Plus) as my primary/only phone.

From a GPS perspective - it definitely takes a while to get a GPS fix, much longer than my Xperia X did, or most other phones I've used in the past. It brought to mind the GPS functionality on GPS-enabled Symbian Nokias, like the N97/N8 before they made good use of A-GPS/assistance of the cellular network to get an initial rough location. Also the compass doesn't seem to work, which is highly unfortunate when hiking or driving.

Another thing I noticed: Say you haven't used GPS in a while, so the location is stale. Open Pure maps to find a restaurant... After it finds you, things work ok, but if you then close Pure maps and open another maps app, say Here or Maep, it doesn't know your location - it has the same stale location that Pure maps had when it opened. At some point the cached location gets updated but I couldn't figure out what triggered that. The result is that if you switch apps, you may have to wait for the re-sync again.

While hiking I used Maep (and switched off Android support to improve battery life) to view marked trails, see unmarked trails suggested by others (using gpx tracks), and also log my treks as gpx files and it worked fairly well, but if I got in to even slightly dense woods, the phone would lose the GPS fix surprisingly easily and take many minutes to recover it. In very dense woods - no chance of recovering the fix after it is lost, you just have to find a large clearing, then take a 5-10 minute rest. This almost got me lost once! If you spend a lot of time away from marked trails, I would at least have a backup device available, like an old non-Sailfish phone.

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Thank you for the detailed report! I also like Maep, but I was wondering: is there a way to preload the maps you'll need for off-line usage in it? I understood that it caches the tiles, but that would mean the only way to preload them is to kind of virtually walk through your route in advance. Is my understanding correct?

Nautilus ( 2019-10-17 08:56:42 +0300 )edit

About one year ago, the Maep developer stated in the comments on Open Repos that he intends to implement OSM Scout Server support for Maep. That would provide solid offline map coverage. Unfortunately it is unclear when/if this feature will be available.

Kekskopf ( 2019-10-17 13:49:24 +0300 )edit

I ended up doing the virtual walk around the route, at a couple of zoom levels. A bit tedious but it helped with data usage. I didn't see a way to make Maep use OSM Scout Server but that would be nice functionality!

Elliott ( 2019-10-17 22:20:41 +0300 )edit

Just wanted to follow up on this - I've been using the latest release ( for a few days now and I'd say that this behavior is GREATLY improved. GPS lock seems to happen in a matter of seconds now, even when indoors, on both native and Android apps. There still doesn't seem to be any sharing of recent positions between Sailfish and Android, but the lock happens quickly enough that it's not so bad. Note this is just a handful of observations within my normal routine here at home/work, but I am impressed at how much this has improved with the latest release.

Elliott ( 2019-11-11 23:39:07 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-10-18 13:20:20 +0300

werdinand gravatar image

I was traveling and hiking for two weeks and using Xperia X and Pure Maps (with both online and offline maps) for navigating and if worked very well. I turned the app off all the time while hiking (to save the battery) but when I started the app again to check the location I got it usually in couple of seconds. And with GPSinfo app the elevation data was also almost immediate. I had also maps on paper but the phone navigation worked so fine that I didn't use the paper ones almost at all.

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answered 2019-10-17 23:15:16 +0300

clementb gravatar image

hello, having used Here for two years with Xperia X F5121, GPS works fine. But it seems Here is not anymore available on store. Compass sensor support came later. have a plesant evening.

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Here is still available. I just checked.

WT.Sane ( 2019-10-21 00:08:11 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-10-22 21:01:21 +0300

Kea gravatar image

On my XA2 Plus gps starts very slow. As soon as gps works, navigation (Here Wego) is ok.

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I am still having problems with GPS on XA2 Plus. Often very slow and sometimes it doesn't work at all. 2020.

Kea ( 2020-03-07 15:55:56 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2019-10-16 15:22:46 +0300

Seen: 1,423 times

Last updated: Oct 22 '19