Apr 09 AT 8:01 AM Sean Riley 41 Comments

Transformer Prime GPS issues? There’s a dongle for that


Transformer Prime owners have been complaining about GPS issues basically since launch. As with most complaints of this kind there were many that didn’t seem to experience the problem at all, while others found it intolerable. Prime owners in the UK were actually already given the option to return their Prime for a refund as a result of this issue or if they chose to keep it were given a six month extension on their warranty.

ASUS subsequently tried unsuccessfully to correct the problem with firmware updates, but the general issue as outlined by Anandtech back in January is the aluminum body of the Prime hindering the GPS reception. Not surprisingly it takes a hardware solution to deal with a hardware problem and that is exactly what ASUS will unveil on April 16th.

The rumor is that the dongle will attach via the proprietary dock connection on the Prime and that it is fairly unobtrusive[1]. If you make heavy use of the dock for the keyboard that would seem like a bit of an annoyance, but I suppose if you really need solid GPS performance out of your Prime that is probably a tradeoff you are willing to make.

Prime owners will be able to register on the 16th and according to the ASUS representative the dongle itself should be shipping approximately two weeks later.

I know we have a fair number of Prime owners around here; has this been a big problem for you and if so are you happy with ASUS’s solution?


  1. Land of Droid captured the brief description of the dongle and the planned mid-April release from an XDA thread before it was taken down.

Via: The Verge

Source: All Things D

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • awesomellamas57

    I don’t understand why everyone thinks that keyboard dock users will have trouble with the new gps dongle. Why wouldn’t it work exactly the same plugged into the same proprietary port on the left side of the dock?

    • _AjD

      i was just thinking the same thing. I love my prime and haven’t really been bothered by the lack of GPS though

    • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

      I thought of that workaround as soon as I heard about people worrying it wouldn’t fit with the keyboard dock. It just seemed kinda obvious to me, I mean do those people think there isn’t a way to charge it when docked??

      • coloradodroid

        first one thing the story has wrong is when we can register, i did so last week when word first came out about the dongle. second myself and several other prime owners began receiving personal phone calls from asus today telling us our dongles were in process and soon to be on the way. mine is being shipped on the 19th, a user from australia is getting hers on the 16th. as for form factor i asked today and confirmed it will attach to the tablet in the 40 pin outlet the same used to charge the tablet. i have both the tablet and docking station and initially wondered seeing the word “dongle” if it was a usb device, it isn’t. it will fit almost flush with the bevel of the tablet when inserted. considering all the primes sold i was very impressed that i got a phone call today and from a real person who was polite and knew what they were talking about. that said, i seriously doubt i will ever use the gps dongle as i have dedicated gps devices in my vehicles, a gps for hiking and even one in my radar detector. i honestly cannot think of a single use for gps on the tablet or why it would have even been included with a wifi only device to begin with. that said, don’t wait to register, do it now if you haven’t already. hopefully most have not gone by some reports stating to wait til the 14th to do so otherwise, well there are going to be thousands of end users in line ahead of you. best of luck nonetheless.

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but that would still involve moving the dongle around when you switch from having the tablet in standalone mode versus having it docked in the keyboard, right?

      I think that rises to the level of “bit of an annoyance,” but I did not mean it was a big deal or something that people should be losing sleep over.

      • awesomellamas57

        I guess it could be annoying, but if it’s a thing that plugs into the bottom it should be fine. What I would be worried about is if they go ahead and make it a full length bar that completely covers the bottom of the transformer. In the end, we won’t know until the 16th of April so why complain now when we don’t even know what this thing is going to look like.

    • John Blair

      I would wait and see on that. I know for a fact that other devices, namely the usb dangle for the tablet does NOT WORK on the keyboard shortcuts port, because I tried it myself. Then again if Asus enables it in software there is no reason it could not work.

  • yankeesusa

    I don’t understand it. Is the gps just not working correctly or did it not have gps at all?

    • awesomellamas57

      it’s supposed to have gps but because of the aluminium backing it doesn’t work properly or at all in many devices

    • ranwanimator

      It was originally advertised as having GPS. Upon receipt, many users found that GPS performace was lacking. The Prime wouldn’t find nearly enough satellites and didn’t have the capability to lock on to enough of them to provide accurate location. Compared with the OG Transformer there was a noticeable difference. This was attributed to the full (and beautiful) aluminum back plate. Some users were completely hacked off and felt lied to. Other users, like myself, didn’t see the big deal. ASUS took GPS off of the feature list due to the issues. It’s really only included, I think, to provide full access to the play market. As I understand it Apple didn’t include GPS in the WiFi versions of the iPad because to fully utilize it you need mobile data.

  • awesomellamas57

    it shouldn’t bother me as i wouldn’t use it very often but if i had it i would use it. apart from that my prime has been great with everything else. another thing i saw was that apparently this dongle thing is going to have a charger port on the bottom so that the device will have gps and be chargable.

  • itguy426

    Really nice to see ASUS taking care of their customers. Making the customer happy should always be at the top of the list for manufactures.

  • ranwanimator

    I don’t currently use the gps function on my Prime. Maybe with the dongle I’d use it more? I don’t know. I will say that the chance of me using it is higher now that they’ve re-enabled ad hoc networking with the most recent update. Tethering to my phone will at least give the possibility of using the various gps apps the way they were meant to be used.

  • protozeloz

    I really wish we could see a picture of it

  • xray49er

    i have a prime and i can care less about thre gps. Is it crappy yes. but i dont need it. my wifi is solid i have no light bleed or dead pixels. Plus connected to the dock is awesome. I’ll take the dongle and i think its great asus are commited to their customers but if peple are complaining about the gps they should of researched and maybe brought a different device.

    • delinear

      That’s fine for anyone who bought it after the GPS issues became widespread, but a lot of early adopters got their Prime before they knew it was an issue – for those people at least it’s nice to see a resolution.

  • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

    I finally registered (got mine at the end of January) and I’m curious if this dongle really does anything. I don’t rely on GPS on it at all but it would be nice if pics could be accurately geotagged (that is, if I ever take any with the Prime).

  • Robert H

    If we registered to get the dongle last week, was that an oopsie on the Asus VIP site and will we have to register again?

  • alexanderharri3

    WiFi location is sufficient for most every use of the Prime – you’d need to be packing a mobile hotspot just to use GPS Nav…and for photo geotagging – if you really cared that much you’d use a real camera.

    I suppose something like SeekDroid to find your unfortunately lost Prime would be one use…assuming it’s near a WiFi hotspot to get the data back to you.

    Personally, my prime GPS does ok – i have my Thunderbolt which had it’s own GPS snafus to deal with. Everyone who expects a perfect lock on your couch is expecting a bit much from this wifi tablet.

    Regardless, ASUS really knows how to take care of its customers – and it shows – the transformer line is one of the most difficult gadgets to come by. An Android tablet that sells out and had ICS from January and pioneered Tegra 3.

    • delinear

      You can cache Google maps and use GPS without an internet connection – that’s one use case I can think of for GPS on the Prime (I’d personally rather use my phone but for some people the Prime might be preferable).

  • jpdingdong

    The problem was that GPS does not work when NOT on a network. – for example – in your car where it would be useful. I’m wondering if I will need to take it out of it’s case to use the dongle or if I can charge it at the same time as using the dongle. If it plugs into the bottom of the unit than you’d be on battery only.

    • coloradodroid

      god help us, i can imagine all the tablet owners now, driving 75 mph down the highway trying to use their tablets to figure where to go. texting while driving is bad enough, tablets while driving, rotflmao, and you just know some will try to do so.

      • PacoBell

        Wait, how is that any different from using a smartphone to navigate? You do know that car docks for tablets exist, right?

  • WlfHart

    What ever happened to the Transformer TF700?

  • spazby

    this is great for prime owners… way to go asus

  • rashad360

    The Transformer Prime was pretty much perfect until I heard of this… oh well. At least Asus is making it right with the dongle. Now successors will not have this problem, live and learn

  • JayDelz

    Wi-fi is the bigger issue!!

    Will this fix the wi-fi problem too, that thousands of users have? My brother’s prime downloads at 95 kbps, whereas I’m getting over 25,000 kbps on my prime on his wi-fi router. He sent it to Asus and they claimed to have fixed it, but there’s no change. So Asus blames the Android build (although it’s the exact same as mine) and refuses to replace it.

    That’s just horrible customer service – I don’t see how you guys can claim Asus has terrific customer service when they refuse to replace these broken-wifi primes. There’s a petition with over 2300 signatures of users with the problem, and Asus is not doing anything.

  • Bpear96

    This is awesome of ASUS always making the customers happy. Would i rather have a all metal design with partially/non working gps, over a plastic design with working internal gps. Of course id much rather have all metal. I mean they should have had this dongle from the beginning, but like i use gps on my tablet anyways :D

  • Xroid

    I just got mine back from Asus RMA on 3/6/12. I sent it in for weak WiFi signal and wifi drop out when bt device is paired. Now the WiFi signal is a little worse then it was, although the dropout while using blue tooth device is a little better. Also my GPS did work fairly well it would lock on 4-5 satellites in my house, and 10-12 outside with an accuracy of 20-40 meters. Now it will not lock on to a single satellite inside or outside. At this point I am just going to try and get a refund if possible. I love the design of my Prime and the keyboard dock, but the functionality is unbearable. I did learn one lesson though, I will never be an early adopter on any of the android phones or tablets.

  • Scruffy Bob

    Just got a phone call from Asus. They said I would have the dongle in about three weeks since it’s not really being released until Apr 16 but I (and I assume others) were able to register and request it last week. That’s some pretty good service :)

  • uzunoff

    I got a call from Asus as well. I can’t believe how great they are when it comes to customer service.
    They extended the warranty of UK customers, then they offered a return option. Now they offer a free dongle and they call you to give you status updates.

    I bought the Prime with full knowledge of this issue and with timely updates ASUS turns out to be my favorite Android manufacturer.

  • johnnycsx

    I like it. Doesn’t look so bad.

  • Nathan D.

    Well my GPS is trash and that putting it mild. Even with my wifi from my house being outside I can not get a GPS lock which force closes my Google maps app. Even though I don’t use it that much if at all for most of the time, it would be nice to have it when I do actually need to use it for something important.

  • yankeesusa

    Most people that used tablets don’t use it to navigate so this isn’t that big of a deal. The touchpad doesn’t have gps chip but it uses wifi to triangulate position and that’s enough for me. It wouldn’t bother me if gps was non existent on this tablet unless you bought it specifically for gps purposes. At least they are providing the dongle. It would be cool if it was bluetooth or at least very very small. Either way I think the smoothness and sleek design of this tablet makes up for it. I’m sure the new model won’t have this issue.

  • Max

    Rather, I would like to see a dongle for wifi improvements. My wifi strength is barely considered to be fast but its obviously slower than my other devices. I think the single incorporating an external wifi receiver would so much more practical for the average user. I think I turned on GPS once to see if it worked since I had this tablet lol

  • PrimeDisappointment

    I had had both GPS and Wifi issues. On a recent trip I had to leave both of my hotel rooms and move close to the hotels Wifi antenna just to be able to connect. I don’t understand why they just can’t make a RF friendly back for the Prime and have that changed out. They have usable backs on both the TF101 and the coming TF700. That would fix all the RF issues and be done with it without having the occupy the limited input/ouput ports that are available on the Prime.