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Using onboard GPS without cellular voice, data, or wifi


New Member
May 8, 2013
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2 years ago I went to Europe and took my phone 4 with me to use as a GPS. I used an app by Sygic that provided on-board (downloaded) maps for the the countries I was visiting. At this time, I did not have wifi or cell service (data nor voice).

I cannot seem to get the iphone's GPS to function without wifi, or data/voice cell service. I've been testing it using the Compass app which displays coordinates when a location is received. Should I have wifi, cell service, or cell data available, the coordinates are provided (a GPS signal is achieved). If all of them are off, I cannot get a signal. Keep in mind I used the GPS without wifi or cellular voice/data two years ago in Europe without any issues.

I'm thinking the issue is derived from one of the following:
  • missing something in the settings
  • something changed when I unlocked (AT&T)
  • Apple has set-up GPS restrictions (ISO update) for when the phone does not have cellular/wifi service

Any ideas?

If already covered in different thread, please point the way! I tried about 7 various search terms in the advanced search with no luck for the specific terms, and got too many results for the system to display with the term "GPS".

FYI: Currently use the phone with VOIP (talkatone app) but also have a prepaid T-mobile card for emergencies, which rarely gets turned on. Trying to prepare iphone to use as GPS for a trip (just like before) where for the most part I will not have wifi or any type of cell service. I tried contacting apple store; spent 10 minutes going through prompters to speak with someone who wanted the phone's serial number so he could let me know I was no longer qualified for free Apple support.. uhg.

Got answer on another forum. In case anyone has the same issue:

Yes, the iphone can be used as an independent GPS device. However, it can't be in airplane mode, and it takes some time to get a signal (in a clear/outdoor area)

Since I want my phone to function using only wifi and GPS, I've: removed the sim card and disabled airplane mode. I had to let my phone sit outside awhile before it got a signal. Signal is better without a case/bumper.