Dec 15 AT 12:25 PM Taylor Wimberly 101 Comments

Qualcomm enables “dual-core” location on Snapdragon phones


Ever wish your Android phone had better GPS performance? Today Qualcomm revealed that phones featuring their Snapdragon processor are now capable of accessing two satellite networks. Most Android devices provide access to the Global Positioning System (GPS) which is a network of 27 satellites, but there’s a second network of 24 satellites operated for the Russian government by the Russian Space ForcesĀ called the Global Navigation Satellite SystemĀ (GLONASS).

Select Snapdragon devices can now access both networks, which Qualcomm’s Rob Chandhok refers to as a “dual-core” location system.

Today Qualcomm announced that any device with a Snapdragon S2 or S3 processor is capable of accessing both satellite networks, but the feature must be enabled by the carrier on each specific device. Qualcomm told us the Samsung Galaxy S II on T-Mobile is one new smartphone to offer this exciting new feature and they will provide a list of other phones in the coming weeks.

Some might find it ironic that the T-Mobile SGS2 is one of the first Android phones to support this feature since GPS was virtually broken for many T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant owners.

Having access to GPS and GLONASS is said to offer increased battery life, better reliability, increased accuracy, and a faster fix on location. Using both networks should really come in handy in dense urban areas, where it can be difficult to get a line of sight signal.

Still confused? Check out Qualcomm’s cool video that explains “dual-core” location for your phone.

Source: Qualcomm

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • wwJOSHdo

    A faster lock on gps? YES PLEASE! :D

    • azswift

      Speedier and more accurate, nice!

      i’ve seen a few apps that claim to access more satellites for a more accurate location. Can this be comdined with multiple satellite locations on each system for EVEN MORE accurate location?

      • mr 1338

        those apps dont “give you access to more satelites”

        this chip however does give you access to a whole new network of satelites so it will give you a slightly more accurate and way faster GPS position.

        i wonder if that chip will work with the Galileo Geolocation System the EU is launching

        • PacoBell

          Eh, I wouldn’t rely on Galileo before the Chinese Beidou. They have a leg up on the EU, which means they have priority over transmissions on those frequencies, according to the ITU rules.

        • r1ch

          Wouldnt be surprised if the iFans come up some random BS about dodgy Russian GPS or something as an excuse for Apple not having it.

          Mind you, I do know of some companies that don’t use Checkpoint firewalls because they’re from Israel lol, madness.

    • stenzor

      Hooray for more accurate Geocaching!

    • ruvort

      haha yes please

  • zyphbear

    This is really Cool, accurate down to 2 meters! I do wish it was not a Carrier enabled option though since then I could enable it anytime I want and not when the carrier wants.

    Though I wonder if that is why the T-Mobile Version of the SGSII doesn’t have NFC, it may have not been compatible with this tech.

    • Michael

      T-Mobile SGSII does have NFC built in. Check your settings?

  • Kevin Amundson

    Very cool. More accuracy is always nice.

    • Futureboy

      Agreed. I’m hoping that this helps the people working on self-driving cars bring their projects one step closer to implementation.

  • clocinnorcal

    Oh wow, I really wish I had that for my Samsung Vibrant. Even with root and all the gps fixes out there, my vibrant has less than par accuracy and consistency.

    • Thomas Biard

      Yeah my phone is not consistent at all. When I got it the GPS locked super quick. Later after the GB update the GPS wouldn’t lock on to save my life. Once I rooted and did GPS fix it helped some, but all of a sudden when I flashed Darkslide on my Droid X, it started back like it was new.

    • c1liu

      yeah the gps was allll screwed up on the vibrant for anything beyond froyo. i chose to use miui over keeping gps with a 2.2 rom. but that’s the main reason it and got an s2! :)

  • Ilyse Rose

    That is really awesome. I’ve never had lock problems with my GPS but I can imagine just how much faster this can be.

  • staryoshi

    Increased precision and speed is appreciated :)

  • ArticulateFool

    Neat feature!

    But are the benefits really that great to the common user?

  • OutofPlace

    I’m counting the days until a news story comes out about some U.S. government asset who is giving location information away to the Russian government by unknowingly activating both satellite networks.

    • breinhar

      I Believe ios and most car based gos systems already accessed both. So if information is leaking, it’s already started haha

    • Dave Lister

      Do you not understand how GPS works? The satellites transmit signals, phones and other GPS-enable devices receive them. There is no 2-way communication with the satellites, therefore no way to “give location information away:

  • dafi81

    I am skeptical. Two independent networks don’t give you a better experience. What if the two signal differ from each other.
    I am hoping for the European should start System around 2014 and is not artificial imprecise.
    (sorry for the bad english ;))

    • metafor

      GPS doesn’t work like that. Both the GLONAS and GPS networks have atomic clocks that they’re synced to and the signal itself is encoded to adjust for relativistic effects that skew time.

      All the receiver needs is the timestamp in order to figure out distance from the satellite. The more satellites there are, the easier it is to pinpoint a position on 3D space.

      • Futureboy

        Look at the big brain on Metafor!
        +1 for you!

    • breinhar

      I believe it when I see it. That system was supposed to be finished decades ago and it won’t be finished any time soon with the debt crisis.

      • PacoBell

        Yeah, too bad about the current financial climate in the eurozone. (Un?)fortunately, China seems to be still pushing forward full steam ahead. They launched their 10th BeiDou-2/Compass satellite December 1st this year with one of its siblings just last summer. At this rate, it looks like the chinese seem to be on track for their ambitious 2012 goal of 12 birds in the sky. And that’s just the beginning. They want to blanket the globe with a total of 75+ satellites. These are some crazy times, I tell ya!

  • Billy

    Yes!!! I am all for getting faster GPS. Is there any reason others cannot do the same thing though?

    On another note .. this is Nexus Day … I don’t want to hear about anything not on my precious … save it for tomorrow. :-p

  • Billy

    Which reminds me of the barometer on the Nexus .. wonder if anyone is going to test whether it actually does much.

  • eioous


  • Jimmy13

    This is really exciting. I just hope it doesn’t melt batteries when using it :)

  • Toonshorty

    Carrier enabled in a few weeks.
    XDA enabled in a few minutes.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Looks like you need a new radio image, but I bet someone can pull it off the T-Mobile SGS2.

    • lxgeorge

      Haha gotta love those guys

    • schou1987

      I’ve been looking for it @ xda. havent been able to find it…yet. do you have a link for it?

  • Cody Riddar

    Yes! Anybody have a link to a list of phones that have these chips?

    • Taylor Wimberly

      We are working on getting a list put together.

  • anikko

    thanks Russia

  • Louis A

    Really cool. But I hope the Iranians and ahmadinejad don’t use this feature to steal your phone away from you like they did with the US drone lol

  • Adryan maldonado

    Wow thats pretty awesome. GO QUALCOMM!!!! show em how its done.

  • Free2bbrian

    Tmobile to this day is my least favorite Big Guy in terms of service providers. But I’m glad this technology is finally getting better.

  • alxrock

    That’s pretty awesome.

  • slurms mckenzie

    so when can i see this on my tmo gs2?

    • Taylor Wimberly

      From what I understand it is already enabled as of now, but I heard the Tmo SGS2 just got a software update today.

  • Samar

    One more way for the government to keep track of everybody and monitor them whenever they want..Isn’t it !!

  • Peter Dowling

    Russians knowing where I am? Thats a no go for me

    • PacoBell

      Dude, the signal only goes one way: down. Do you honestly think your tiny cell phone has the power to transmit RF all the way back up into earth orbit? It can hardly reach the next cell tower!

  • DasErdbeer

    The Galaxy Note do have GLONASS, at least the version sold here in Sweden.

    Here’s a picture that compares Razr, Note and GNx. Don’t pay too much attention to accuracy (varies from a moment to another), but on sattelites in use. The GLONASS equipped Note used two times more sattelites than GPS-only GNx.

    (Cred to for picture)

  • honourbound68

    It wasn’t just the Vibrant that Samsung had gps problems with, my epic 4g suxxored with its gps until the geniuses in xda were able to fix it. So I take this as a blessing

  • lancaster09

    That is more than ironic… my wife has traded in 4 vibrants with the same GPS problem. If they had occurred more closely together they would have given her a different phone. Apparently you have to have 3 broken phones in 30 days for them to give a different device.

  • CTown

    28nm multiple-core processors, dual-core location, and Mirasol displays… Qualcomm could be on its way to being synonymous with good battery life!

    Now, let’s hope that AOSP ROMS on T-Mobile’s GSII can call 911 or even consistently getslocks through GPS… unlike my Vibrant!

  • ickyboo

    Glonass is also supported on the Galaxy Note / Wave 3 and Iphone 4s, Don’t forget the Exynos SoC has a built in GPS chipset that’s part of the SoC that’s disabled as the SGSII relies on a separate external GPS chipset. Maybe that is the gps that’s being used for Glonass in the Galaxy Note and that’s why Iphone 4s has Glonass too since the Apple A5 is essentially a Exynos with a different GPU

  • Leonardo Leal

    The Nexus One has a First-Generation Snapdragon SoC.

    Does It mean Nexus One Owners will be affected by this enhancement?

    • PacoBell

      Uh, no. Didn’t you watch the same video I just did? Qualcomm said S2 and up ONLY.

  • stenzor

    Have they replaced all the GPS satellites yet? They were doing an $8 billion upgrade to replace each one of the 24 satellites last year I remember..

  • techvudu

    What a sweet deal. My TMO SGS2 already locks in rediculously fast, I cant imagine better tracking than it already has. Combine that with Goog Maps and you pretty much put garmin/TomTom/etc.. out of business…

    • CTown

      Yeah, TomTom and Garmin figured that a while ago… remember the Garminfone! If only if Google Maps can store some of its data w/o needing a data connection…

      • PacoBell

        You already can. It’s called “pre-cache map areas”. You can find it in the Labs section of the Maps app.

  • Marcus

    That is pretty cool. Faster lock on and more accurate? That is pretty cool!

  • Hall Lo

    More Accurate: Checked
    Faster Lock: Checked
    Increased Battery Life while using GPS: Checked

    OMG this is awesome!

  • maclifer

    Here’s hoping my HTC Amaze (same chipset as TMO SGSII – Snapdragon S3 1.5 dual) will have it soon… I’ve already been very impressed with the quick lock and accuracy; should be interesting if it can nail things even closer.

  • securifirm

    Anything to speed up the GPS lock, accuracy and battery life would be well worth it.

  • iamXiV92a

    In Soviet Russia, GPS Locks YOU!

    • Andy_jr

      Darn, I wish I’d thought of that one first. ;^)

  • Emeriz

    Anything to speed up GPS would be nice.

  • Andy_jr

    That is a nice feature. I’m going to get a T-Mobile SGS2 soon, so this is a little bit of good news.

  • tpulu

    That’s good news! GPS improvement is very welcome!

  • aranea

    I just wanna say wow! I’m impressed.

  • Kenneth Ohonba

    Hooray for faster GPS connection

  • Nathan D.

    wow! that kinda cool, well now I know what glonass is.

  • OGdroid57

    Your header for this says Snapdragon instead of Qualcomm haha fix!

  • ndub21

    That’s pretty cool! I’m interested to see how much it actually improves the location. My Captivate wouldn’t even get a location lock until I returned it to AT&T and got a new one.

  • lokidokie

    Hell yeah!
    I surely hope this will become standard. GPS lock time isn’t too bad on any of my devices.
    But hey, better would be… better!

  • donger

    that’s freaking cool

  • eliander mendoza

    The motorola Thriumph would love this but it ain’t happening!!!!

  • Leo Young

    Well, if you are going to fix a problem, might as well fix it right!
    Now it is twice as fixed. LOL

    Seriously, if it results in faster GPS location service and updating, I am all for it.
    I do wonder about power consumption but I imagine is must be extremely small.

    • PacoBell

      Just longer polling times when GPS can’t get a lock. How much longer, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  • Darknight42020

    I retired my Vibrant to my wife and picked up the SGSII and I can tell you there is a hell of a difference, besides the GPS actually working. I have ran the SGSII against the Garminfone and they stay neck in neck with eachother so I would have to say this is definitely a step up!

  • pritams

    This one was a holy much needed feature..yessss!

  • jakkuz

    well, so it’s time for letting down Hero, and to anything with Snapdragon.

  • ccn_cristi

    It sounds all good – faster lock, better battery, too bad i don’t have a phone with Snapdragon :(

  • thechad

    sounds awesome

  • Joshua Melling

    Interesting concept.

  • mnemoniccucumber

    how does this save battery? wouldn’t it take more energy to search for two different networks of satellites compared to one? I think what they’re saying is that it saves energy compared to the amount of energy “dual-core” location could use.

    • PacoBell

      I’m not really sure, but I’d think that the less time the GPS chip needs to acquire at least 4 satellites, the sooner it can shut down, at least for apps that only need to access location intermittently (not navigation). And even when it does get a fix, there must be some threshold where acquiring another satellite would not significantly increase accuracy. At that point, it could stop polling for other sources and potentially save battery until the next time a fix is required.

  • gherea

    Hooray for more accurate Geocaching!

  • humidity

    I want it!

  • Jorge Eslava

    What will they think of next? I guess we’ll find out in a few days when something new blows out minds again.

    • Jorge Eslava

      “our” not “out”, I think a nice feature in the future for the comments would be to be able to edit them.

  • supercaliber64

    not that big of a deal, I really don’t want the Russian’s knowing where I’m at

    • PacoBell

      Ugh. Not ANOTHER one of these ignorant comments! Seriously, you’re like the 4th one here already. THINK PEOPLE!

  • dirt_squirrel

    honestly, it would just be nice if we could have access to the same satellites the gov’t uses. if anything so we can track their lecherous behinds and make them wonder who’s watchign them…

    • PacoBell

      Uh, we already do. We just get access to the Standard Precision signal while the government/military uses an encrypted High Precision signal. Neither by themselves will allow anyone to track anyone else without being connected to some kind of network. If you wanna attach a GPS tracker to some bureaucrats possessions, that’s your business.

  • jefflarkin

    Wow, that’s kinda interesting. I wonder how much of a difference it really makes though.

  • blaseb

    YES! Faster GPS!

  • ruvort

    yes please! lol

  • _Diego

    Very interesting. Hope they’ll publish the list soon! But somehow I’m afraid that my Desire won’t be on that list…

    Bit It’ s even a better thing that they start to work together with other companies to improve performance and thus user experience! This is the way I like to see companies go; collaboration to improve consumers user experience :-) Big thumps up!

  • erikiksaz

    I agree. My GF would have jumped ship to iOS if it weren’t for android’s stellar voice-guided nav.

    Plus, she knew I’d be pissed if she made the jump to iOS =p

  • ArticulateFool

    I think you two missed my point.

    GPS is a great feature, but what will tge real world differences for the end user be when comparing single to dual GPS. (The possibility of a 1 second faster lock? Maybe getting a lock on one system when the other could not?)

    I’m a satelite communications emgineer and im having a tough time visualizing how this would help the majority of users.



  • phaet2112

    Some of the phones take far longer than 1 second to lock- minutes even outside. Reducing that by 2/3 would help out a lot.

  • ArticulateFool

    The problem here is the gps antenna on the phone. The root cause solution is a better gps antenna, the patch is a russian made service that may be perceived as a security risk.