Feb 26 AT 10:14 PM Admin 12 Comments

TeleNav GPS for Android vs TomTom One

If you took a new, high powered phone and matched it up with a 2yr old budget GPS, which device do you think would win?  Surely the new phone must be more powerful, have all the bells and whistles, and improve upon the user interface, right?  TeleNav recently released their GPS Navigator software for Google Android and I decided the best way to evaluate their product was to compare it with my old friend TomTom.  The results my surprise you.

Let me share a little so you can see where I’m coming from with this review.  I freakin love my TomTom.  It has surpassed all the expectations I had when I first paid $99 for the thing over a year ago.  I’m required to travel over 50k miles a year and I use the thing almost every day.  Even when I travel out of town and I know where I am going, he still remains powered up and acts as a tool.  At the same time, it is just a basic GPS and I have been considering an upgrade.

When I purchased my T-Mobile G1, my sole reason for doing so was Android.  The GPS was an afterthought.  I failed to recognize the potential for an always on device.  After using TeleNav for only 3 days, I already see several must-have features for frequent GPS users.  It’s not all good news though and I will share some of my major gripes with the first comercial turn-by-turn software released for Android.


My TomTom has the feature of hooking up to my pc and getting the latest satellite positions which allow it to get a fix rather quickly.  It just works every time I turn it on.  My Android is connected to the tubes, it should know where the satellites are, but sadly this is often a task.  Most times, it takes me several minutes sitting in my car before it gets a fix.  Sometimes it doesn’t get a fix at all.  Other times, it loses the GPS fix in the middle of a trip.  I don’t know who is to blame for this, but I’m going with HTC.  Hopefully a new firmware could address these problems.

The other notable about performance is the frames per second.  My TomTom does maybe 1o-15fps and the animation is quite smooth.  I can see as I’m making a turn and it refreshes very quickly when I miss a turn.  TeleNav runs about 1fps which to me is my biggest complaint.  This can make certain turns confusing because the screen is so slow to refresh.  It is also slow to refresh after missing a turn.  Again, I don’t know what is the limiting factor but I would suspect the GPS receiver.  Winner = TomTom


The TomTom One 3rd edition offers only the basics.  You can search some POIs, but their database is lacking.  I have no weather, traffic, or alert information.  There is no voice control as well.  I would often curse at my TomTom because his maps were old and wished it had Google Maps.  TeleNav on the HTC G1 has almost every feature available on high end GPS units.  Every time I have used the search for a business or address, it has found it.  I actually get traffic updates in my city.  The voice control has worked rather well for me.  The ETAs it gives are also perfect.  I’m still exploring all the features it has to offer.  Anything that is missing could likely be addressed in a future update.  The online syncing is a nice bonus as well with the ability to view your recent trips(wish they had stats for them though).  Winner = TeleNav

Ease of Use

The TomTom is a device most people can pick up and begin to use right away.  The big on screen keyboard is perfect for inputting text.  The display has all the needed information.  Any operation can be completed with a few taps.  TeleNav on the other hand is not designed very well for operating the device when it is mounted to your window.  You have to hold down buttons to record your voice.  The keyboard must be slid open to type an address out.  Most of the options require the use of the menu button which can be hard to press.

TeleNav could fix all this with a touch only mode.  Taps to the map could bring up the menu.  Voice recording should be done by timer or taps and not holding the talk button down.  An soft keyboard could be easily added.  Winner = TomTom


TomTom has one option for purchase.  You buy the whole device then when new map packs are released you can purchase them for $45-55.  TeleNav allows up to 3 different plans.  You could pay for a single month for users who only travel several times a year.  For heavier users you can get the 1yr or the 4yr plan which is heavily discounted.  By moving your subscription from device to device over 4 years, you would own a future proof GPS solution.  Winner = TeleNav

So what is the better overall purchase?  Based mainly on pricing, TeleNav offers the best value for Android users.  Even though the software is not perfect and the G1 has its issues, there is room for improvement and the experience will improve with user feedback.  TeleNav has included the brilliant feature of allowing you to send feedback at any time during the program by voice or text.  I am eager to see how the next release goes.  I have no experience with TeleNav so I do not know their reputation for updates.  I hope they take advantage of their early release advantage because other players are going to enter this market.

Is there any hope for the G1 GPS receiver?  I’m not holding my breath.

p.s. its kinda funny writing a blog about a phone…

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  • http://www.jayolay.com Jay Olay

    I have this installed on my G1. But it would it says my “Account is Not Found”. I’m on the phone with TeleNAV at the moment, the Tier-1 customer support was not able to assist me. Now I’m on the phone with their Tier-3 Tech support.

    I’ll let you know how it progresses.

    • http://www.jayolay.com Jay Olay

      Happy to say that at least the Tier-3 Tech support staff at TeleNAV are on top of things. They were able to get me up and going within 3 minutes after being transferred to them.

      Used the app to get turn-by-turn directions on my way back to the office. The routing gave me a correct route but not the shortest route. I guess I’ll look into adjusting the settings for this app to achieve more accurate routing.

  • http://www.suffolk757.com H Young

    Actually I think the GPS taking forever is a telenav problem. Every other G1 app that uses the GPS finds the satellites pretty quick. When I open Google Maps or my other traffic program, or Tunewiki, its seconds before I have a fix. But like you said, It takes forever to find the sats in telenav. Even more annoying is that when I reach the biggest city in my area, there’s always traffic, so it tells you, then when you tap the icon to avoid the traffic, it has to look for the satellites again, so by the time you get a new route, it tells you to keep going the same way you’re going. I mean really, if the gps has tracked me for 20 miles already, why does it fail so bad on a reroute.

    Funny thing. We have tunnels here, and the satellite is lost when you enter one, but found almost instantly when you exit. Yet it takes 5 mins of sitting in the cold car waiting for the software to find the sat and give me a route. Why?

    Another issue. I think telenav anticipates traffic no matter what. There is one major city in my area and I know that the interstate through its downtown is a bad idea at certain times, but I work overnight, so why does it tell me to take the long way and bypass downtown at 10pm on a Sunday night. The software also doesn’t like to give up on a route. With my garmin I would start out headed in the general direction and if I went the wrong way, it would find an alternate route. Not Telenav, it will keep telling you to make a u-turn or take a side street back, even though it could just tell you a route based on the way you’re headed.

    The Garmin I have (nuvi 250) was only $60 and the only shortcomings are lack of an ability to use custom voices, and lack of traffic info. I may have to switch back after my telenav trial ends because $60 versus $9 a month for software that can’t adjust to one missed turn is just a fail. Telenav doesn’t even tell me I’ve missed my exit until I’m 1/4 mile past it. Wow. Just not ready for prime time.

  • Rykalov Dikar

    In short: Slow, Laggy, sluggish, did I mention slow?

    Other than that, has some very nice options. lots of information and a easy to use interface.

    When you hit traffic and need to re-route your out of luck. It takes so long for it to recalculate that by the time it has given you a new direction to go you will have already gotten lost and need to recalculate again. Oh and you have to force recalculate, it really does to do it on its own.

  • http://songportal.org Protricity

    You forgot to mention that telenav software requires the data plan which not all users have. Futhermore, anyone with a data plan outside of 3G service will not be able to use telenav. Thus, if you’re lost in death valley and want to use your GPS to get you out of there, you can’t. You’re already dead.

    Thus for the ultimate GPS solution, anything is better than Telenav. For city-only GPS (with data plan+monthly fee) telenav is like a regular GPS handheld (no service fee) with a few more features, but you’ll pay for them.

    The one app that should exist for android (but does not) is something that uses a full local database of POI and maps that does not rely on wifi/3g for basic directions. Anyone with a 2-8gb minisd would be able to fit the database on there pretty easily with room to spare.

    The best alternative I know of is AndNav2. It is much like google maps (but buggy), free, and is the only app that actually caches map information for offline use. It actually provides downloads of entire country maps cached if you don’t want to cache it yourself. I have the US cached at reasonable zoom, and my home city cached at all zoom levels. This ofcourse does not provide POI or directions offline. You need wifi/3g for that.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Good points. I uninstalled TeleNav and went back to my TomTom. I’m interested to try it again after the Android 1.5 update. The GPS acquisition times are supposed to improve, but I don’t know what updates Telenav has made.

  • Gammax

    i totally love gmaps on my ocean cant wait to try out on the G1

  • RadarLarry

    I can’t barely hear the voice prompts from my Telenav. How does one control the volume? Or is it possibel at all?

  • cece

    I wanted to try it but it does not seem available in europe. strange…
    Does it
    work in europe for US users ?

  • http://Website Tom

    The GPS problem is common with HTC devices my Touch Pro 2 takes a while to fix even with WinMo’s quickgps page and it will randomly lose signal.

  • http://tommcknight.com Tom McKnight

    Telenav is extremely slow.

    T-Mobile is almost worthless if you leave any major city or major highway.

    I recently went to 3 islands in Hawaii, and also drove from Memphis to South Mississippi. Both times I had friends who had Verizon. They almost never had any problems connecting with their service. With T-Mobile I almost never had any service outside of major cities or major freeways.

    After 12 years with T-Mobile I am looking to switch to Verizon.