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I’ve recently reviewed a number of iPhone GPS navigation apps including the Garmin StreetPilot iPhone app and the TomTom iPhone App.  I thought it best I also check out what the competition has to offer and so have been driving around using the Navigon MobileNavigator App.  What follows are a few road test results from using MobileNavigator, plus additional comments and a review of the app.

Navigon Mobile Navigator Review

The Navigon iPhone app is a hefty download in iTunes terms and weighs in at a whopping 1.2GB.  The reason for this large file size is the fact that the maps are installed onto your iPhone, rather than being sent over your phone network.

There’s an advantage to this though, and that is that you don’t need network coverage in order for the Navigon app to work for you.  So if you phone connection drops whilst driving you will still be able to use the GPS navigation on your iPhone and get to your destination.

Driving with the Navigon iPhone App

Once I started my car up I then turned the app on.  It took nearly half a minute to start working and loading, and so for future reference I will probably access the app just as I am stepping out of my front door – so I don’t have to experience that frustrating wait whilst sat in the car.

I set out to travel a ten mile route that I was not already familiar with.  It was quite simple to get started as all I needed to do was use the iPhone user interface to access my contacts and address book, then selected the address I wanted to go to – and the Navigon app kicked in with the directions and loaded the maps to the display screen.

GPS Navigation and Usability of MobileNavigator

As I drive the first thing I notice is that the voice directions are not particularly clear – at least not as clear as my usual GPS device offers.  This is most likely due to the small and weak speaker that comes with the iPhone – but the voice is still easy enough to understand – and it also includes text to speech voice guidance which I was not expecting on an iPhone app.

Driving along my route I was alerted to various points of interest (POIs) – so for example it would show me where ATMs, restaurants, and gas stations were which was very useful.  I found that the MobileNavigator worked best when in landscape view, but it is up to you which way your position your iPhone as the app will flip and rotate according to your preference.

Taking Phone Calls with the Navigon App

After about 2 miles into my journey I had an incoming call come into my iPhone.  This was the point I thought things might not work too well – however, once I had completed the call in hands-free mode, the iPhone switched back to the Navigon interface and my journey could continue.  In truth this isn’t ideal because I would want to see the maps whilst I was on the call – but then this is one of the downsides to using smartphone GPS over the more traditional standard devices.

Speed Limit Warnings with MobileNavigator

The Navigon app comes with speed limit warnings which were very handy for me.  It shows the speed limit on the road I was driving on, plus has a great option that alerts me with a caution when I start to go over the speed limit.  It also has a real sign-post display so all the directions do tend to look very close to what you are actually seeing on the road ahead of you.

With regards to traffic warnings – for example telling me when there was going to be a traffic jam – the Navigon App doesn’t come with these as standard and free (although the Garmin version does).  If I wanted traffic alerts I would have to pay an additional cost from the iTunes store.

For Best Results Use a Dashboard Mount

One thing to also consider when using your iPhone as a GPS is that you should invest in a dashboard mount.  This will mean that you can position the iPhone in a similar fashion to how standard GPS devices are on the dashboard, or via a suction cup onto the windscreen of your vehicle.  You can buy these on Amazon relatively cheap and I personally recommend the Satechi CR-3600.

Conclusion on Navigon MobileNavigator

Many people have heralded the death of the GPS device due to the emergence of these types of smartphone apps.  Personally I love my dedicated GPS product, but have to admit that the MobileNavigator App does actually stand up pretty well in comparison.  Whilst not the best one on the market in my opinion, it’s good value for the price.

Author Details: Thanks to Jemma and the team at GPS Bites for this review of the Navigon iPhone App.  GPS Bites offer news, reviews, voucher codes, and map updates all related to the GPS industry.

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