Our exclusive discount offers and vouchers on SAAS subscriptions are subject to availability and may be subject to change or expire without notice
Last UpdatedOct 20, 2023
Ever wondered how much data your navigation GPS apps consume? Does GPS use data on Android/iPhone? You might be surprised to learn that they’re more data-efficient than you think. Let’s explore the data usage of popular GPS apps like Apple Maps and Google Maps.
GPS apps do not consume as much data as you may think. When compared to the tasks they perform, you will find that the data consumed is quite minimal. Popular iPhone GPS apps such as Apple Maps and Google Maps consume an average of 0.6 MB to 1.3MB of data per 10 miles. In fact, if you look at the larger picture, the consumption of less than 2 MB of data per 10 miles or every 20 minutes is not much at all. In fact, the streaming of a 3-minute song uses the same or, sometimes, even more data.
Also, some of the most popular GPS apps, such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, provide offline options. This enables users to keep navigating without any data usage during the entirety of their trip. Not everyone uses unlimited data plans, so this is helpful, especially when roaming.
While some limit their data consumption due to their limited needs, some want to cut down on expenses. In such cases, certain navigation apps consume relatively less data and are thus helpful. Therefore, it is imperative to know which navigation app uses less data.
Navigation apps, contrary to popular belief, are quite frugal when it comes to data usage. For instance, leading iPhone GPS apps like Apple Maps and Google Maps use roughly 0.6 MB to 1.3MB of data for every 10 miles. To put this in perspective, streaming a 3-minute song can consume the same or even more data.
Recognizing the diverse needs of users, top navigation apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps offer offline features. This is a boon for those without unlimited data plans or those traveling abroad to avoid roaming charges.
Offline Navigation Google Maps allows users to download maps for offline use. While this saves data, it’s worth noting that these maps can occupy significant storage space, sometimes up to 1.5 GB. These offline maps are stored for 15 days due to the dynamic nature of maps. To keep them updated, enable automatic updates in the settings.
Let’s take a look at the iPhone’s two main navigation apps: Apple Maps and Google Maps.
To use Apple Maps, your phone will use the GPS signal for turn-by-turn navigation. This means that the cell phone data will be used when Wi-Fi is unavailable as you are on the move. The highest amount of data usage is when the phone downloads maps of the areas you are going to travel to.
For a 20-minute smooth ride, which is about 10 miles, the data used by Apple Maps would be about 3.1 MB. However, the same amount of time and distance through some turns can use more data.
For example, a 25-minute drive of about 12 miles with lots of construction on the road and rerouting can consume up to 11 MB of your data. So, it all depends on the condition of the roads and the area you are traveling to.
Apple Maps seems to average around 10 MB of data usage per hour. But this can increase to 30-40+ MB per hour if there is a lot of map usage, like searching locations, changing routes, loading different areas, etc.
The exact amount will depend on driving conditions and map usage patterns. But based on your research, 10-40 MB per hour seems like a reasonable estimate range for Apple Maps data usage under typical driving circumstances.
Apple Maps also comes with an offline feature. This is extremely helpful for anyone using maps while roaming. After all, paying for roaming data can burn a hole in your pocket. This can also prove to be highly beneficial when you enter a low cellular network area.
The basic map can be pulled for locations even when your phone cannot use cellular data. All you have to do is enter your destination, choose the best route, tap go, and wait for the app to load the navigation before you start the journey.
Apple CarPlay, a popular feature for in-car entertainment and navigation, does indeed use data. The amount of data consumed largely depends on the apps you use and how you use them. For instance:
Using apps like Apple Maps or Google Maps on CarPlay can consume data, especially when fetching real-time traffic information. On average, you can expect these apps to use approximately 30 MB of data per hour. However, if you’ve downloaded offline maps, the data usage can be significantly reduced.
Apps like Spotify can vary in data usage based on the streaming quality. For instance, Spotify’s “normal” quality uses around 43.2 MB per hour, while its “very high” quality can consume up to 144 MB per hour.
|Function/App||Average Data Usage||Notes|
|Navigation (e.g., Google Maps)||~30 MB/hour||Data usage can be reduced with offline maps.|
|– Low Quality||10.8 MB/hour||Lower quality results in less data usage.|
|– Normal Quality||43.2 MB/hour||Standard quality for most users.|
|– High Quality||72 MB/hour||It has the best sound quality, is available only for Spotify Premium users, and uses the most data.|
|– Very High Quality||144 MB/hour||Normal sound quality is available only for Spotify Premium users and uses the most data.|
|SMS & Calls||Minimal||Regular SMS and calls don’t use data. iMessage and FaceTime audio calls will use some data.|
|Siri Commands||Varies||Using Siri for reading texts or other commands requires data for processing voice commands.|
It’s worth noting that while CarPlay does use data, there are ways to minimize consumption. Many apps offer offline modes, allowing you to download content, like maps or playlists, to your device beforehand. This can be particularly useful for those on limited data plans.
To use Google Maps, your phone relies on the GPS signal for turn-by-turn navigation. This implies that mobile data will be utilized when Wi-Fi isn’t accessible during your travels. The most significant data consumption occurs when the app fetches maps of the regions you’re navigating through.
Google Maps is one of the most popular navigation apps across the world. It uses an average of 0.67 MB of data every 10 miles and about 0.73 MB of data every 20 minutes. Having said that, what the users must also note is that if, while navigating, you pull over to search for a specific location, such as a restaurant, the data consumption could increase.
Google Maps uses approximately 4-5 MB of data per hour based on estimates of 0.67 MB every 10 miles and 0.73 MB every 20 minutes.
How did we check?
This makes Google Maps relatively data-efficient compared to other navigation apps. However, frequent searches, rerouting, and interacting with different areas of the map can increase data consumption to around 6-10 MB per hour or more. The exact amount will depend on your driving route and how heavily you engage with the app.
There have been some additions to the features of Google Maps that make it possible to reduce data consumption further. For example, you can download the map to use it offline and then make additional searches. Doing this will not cost you any additional data charges. This is a recently added feature to Google’s navigation app.
Thankfully, using Google Maps offline is not a hectic task. Before you start the trip, download the map of your destination. The area that you can download on Google Maps is quite large.
However, one thing that you need to remember is that although you might be saving data by downloading the map, a large amount of your device’s storage will be used. Depending on the area, downloaded maps can take up to 1.5 GB of your storage space. If your device has an SD card, you can easily transfer the map data there. It is also important to remember that offline map data can only be stored for 15 days.
This happens because maps require regular updates and are extremely dynamic. If you wish to keep the offline maps indefinitely, you can go to the Offline Maps settings and switch on automatic updates. This will ensure that all your offline maps get updated regularly. If you want to save more data on navigation apps, you can also choose the feature on your device; this will enable the maps to get updated only when you have Wi-Fi.
Although the offline feature of Google Maps lets you save a lot of data, you will not be able to use all the features. In fact, many features of the app that make the app better than its rivals will not be available. Information on bike routes, walking routes, lane guidance, and live traffic details are some things you will have to do without. But everything else on the navigation app should work as it should. Even the downloaded maps will show you addresses, look for businesses, and will let you navigate to your destination.
The standards are usually the same for all major navigation apps, so this information is quite common for most navigation apps and how much data they use. Ultimately, when choosing a navigation app, try out at least two to three apps and pick the one that appeals the most to you.
Most major navigation apps have similar data usage standards. It’s advisable to test a few apps to determine which one aligns best with your needs. Remember, while data usage is a factor, the app’s accuracy, user interface, and additional features should also influence your decision.
With over 200 years of combined industry experience, our Editorial Team at Top10Ratings is a diverse group of expert reviewers, product analysts, and content experts. They come from backgrounds in renowned product testing labs, acclaimed review platforms, and leading market research firms. Together, they ensure that every review, ranking, and insight offered on Top10Ratings is comprehensive, expert-driven, and trustworthy. Their dedication to authenticity and clarity guarantees that our readers always receive reliable and actionable advice.