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Navigon MobileNavigator for iPhone review



Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

The personal sat-nav started out as a PDA add-on, but sales really took off when standalone devices began to appear about five years ago. Since then, some companies have even stopped supporting their PDA software products, such as Navman. But smartphones are increasingly powerful, and if you don't need satellite navigation very often, an app on your mobile for occasional use could make more sense than yet another separate device. Surprisingly, Apple's iPhone, the most high profile of smartphones, has had few options in this area - until now. Later this summer we will see TomTom launching software for the iPhone, but Navigon's MobileNavigator has performed a coup and arrived first.

Navigon has been offering MobileNavigator for Windows Mobile and Symbian phones for some time. We were relatively impressed when we looked at MobileNavigator version 7 a few months ago and the new iPhone revision bears a considerable resemblance, and offers similar features.

Naturally, you can only obtain MobileNavigator via iTunes or the iPhone App Store. But as it's a big download you will probably want to make the purchase on a desktop Mac or PC rather than via the phone itself. The British Isles version costs £52.99 and requires 215MB, whilst full European maps including 40 countries will set you back £79.99 and take up 1.65GB. There's also a 'Lite' trial version of the British Isles package, although it's not fully functional. To use any of these you will need an iPhone with the version 3.0 firmware.

Satellite navigation isn't going to be much use in your car without a way of securing your iPhone in a readily visible location. Since MobileNavigator is an online download, it doesn't include anything for this purpose. You can pick up a rudimentary mount for under a tenner, although a car power adapter is also recommended, which will push the total price up to around £15. We opted for a slightly more sophisticated device in the shape of GEAR4's CarDock Follow Me FM Transmitter, so we could pipe the sat-nav directions through the vehicle's hi-fi. This is only an option with a car that has its cigarette lighter socket in a position easily seen from the driver's seat, which fortunately it was in our test car.

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July 20, 2009, 5:13 am

I'd be vary hesitant about getting this product at the moment - it's all very well saying that they'll fix all the bugs and lack of (primary) features with a 'future' free software upgrade- but i'll believe it when i see it.

I know of several horror stories involving what can best be described as a public 'beta' test software - where friends said it could not find an address at all, lost signal all the time and took then on some really strange routes. You'd have to be desperately lost to have to buy this now when TomTom's version is en route.

I hope they get all the bugs out and the updates in before they lose market traction to the big players.

Barry Ward

July 20, 2009, 1:57 pm

I have this software and am in complete agreement with the review. It has actually been quite good in most cases getting me from A to B. It even actually managed to find me a quicker way home from work than the route I normally take! However, I REALLY would have thought speed camera's would have been implemented in the first version, and hope they stick to their word that they will be in the free update. Also, as the review says, the Address Book integration is poor, with it not being able to find most of the addresses in mine. I have had to find the addresses in the Navigon app myself and assign them as favourites instead.

Other than that, it has worked very well. It is quick enough to load, quick enough to find a GPS signal, and works well enough when you want to play your library music. You can double tap the home button to bring up skip, pause, and volume control for your music. Or if you want to come out of the app to select your music, you can- then when you return to the Navigon app it remembers where you are and where you want to go. I bought it for the cheaper price of £50 for the European version though, and am not sure if it is worth the money now the price has gone up. My advice, wait to see how TomTom compares, or wait to see if/when the update comes out. For the price it is now, I'd expect the missing features such as speed cameras to be present.

Stewart Clark

July 20, 2009, 2:05 pm

I bought this but Apple refunded my money after I complained. There are too many bugs and inconsistencies for it to be a real competitor to TomTom. I bought the app after visiting the Navigon website and saw what they had available in other platforms. I did not realise, until I had installed the app, just how bad it is. The postcode file is at least 6 years out of date. The postcode they quote for my office changed before I joined the company 6 years ago. My home postcode cannot be found nor the road where I live. The screen switches off while the program is running. The volume turns itself down and when you turn it up so that you can hear it at motorway speeds, it distorts. Sometimes I need to quit the app and restart to make the sound work at all.

I was at RIAT on Saturday and when I tried the Iphone Navigon had no idea where I was, my brother’s Mio map and my TomTom 6 had no trouble at all.

Navigon wanted the glory of being first but they have severely damaged their reputation and, as Apple refunded my money, I have deleted the app. Please hurry up, TomTom.


July 20, 2009, 2:20 pm

The thing that struck me most about this product is that it uses the iPhone's standard keyboard. When mounted, especially if you have the device off to the side slightly, it's surely going to be quite difficult to type accurately even when stationary. Also, now obviously you shouldn't be setting your sat nav while on route but if you do need to then, the small keyboard is going to be even more of a problem.


July 20, 2009, 3:04 pm


How did you go about getting a refund? I have been appalled at how bad this ap is. I've had constant problems since purchase with it. It will not find a GPS signal, whilst google maps does almost instantly. I phoned Navigons support line 3 times. Thay told me it was a problem with my phone. On checking the phone at my local Apple store I was told my phone was fine. I am extremely unhappy with Navigons product and their so called support. I am also unhappy that Apple and the iTunes store seem to be washing their hands when asked to do something about this. From looking at the iTunes store reviews, there are lots of people in the same boat as me. It's about time Navigon or Apple had the courtesy to respond to their concerns regarding a product that is in lots of cases not fit for purpose.

Stewart Clark

July 20, 2009, 3:52 pm

Itunes refund instructions: Go to your Itunes account and select Purchase History. Select the problem app and click on retort a problem. From there you can select "The application does not perform as expected" and you can detail the problem. I complained that the app claimed to have the latest mapping but clearly did not as the postcode file is 6 years out of date. The refund came through in a 24 hours (check they refund the full amount as they missed the tax first time around).

Hope this helps.

James Morris

July 20, 2009, 3:58 pm

I never had problems finding GPS lock during testing. But that can be quite a variable thing depending on where you are and the weather. The biggest surprise for me was how many of the Windows Mobile version's features were missing. They particularly need to get safety cameras sorted, and the postcode limitations spoil all of Navigon's products.


July 20, 2009, 4:37 pm


Thanks mate , I actually did this about 8-10 days ago. I got an email stating I'd have to contact the manufacturer for a refund. I contacted Apple again today asI'm getting nowhere with Navigon.


I agree, the features are pretty lacking at the moment. The postcode/safety camera POI's thing's a killer. As to the GPS lock - maybe it's a geographical thing? saying that though, google maps will get a lock in seconds, whereas the Navigon software can take up to 20 mins. It will then drop the signal constantly. Kinda useless having GPS software that can't lock to a GPS signal. Check out the reviews in the iTunes store, there's quite a few people experiencing the GPS lock problem.

James Morris

July 20, 2009, 8:36 pm

@JGM Strange, I can't say I've had that problem at all. I've found MobileNavigator locks within a few seconds and keeps the lock just fine, so long as the phone has a good view of the sky at all times. The only thing which confuses it is switching out to another app for a bit. Sometimes it won't come back after that. Which iPhone are you using? I've been testing with a 3GS.


July 20, 2009, 9:43 pm

@James: 3G with OS 3.0 mate. Tech guys at the Apple store say it's working perfectly.

Nae clouds, perfect sky - still doesn't lock quickly.

Spoke to Apple again. Was told they are arranging a refund for me as quite a few folks are having issues with this software. I'd advise people to wait for TomTom rather than waste cash on this

James Morris

July 21, 2009, 1:12 am

@JGM Maybe it's an issue with the 3G then. Don't disagree with your conclusion though.

Barry Ward

July 21, 2009, 2:30 pm

For reference, I haven't had any issue at all with it finding and locking onto GPS, and I own a 3GS.


July 23, 2009, 5:51 pm

Happy to report that Apple organised a refund today for me. They agreed that it's kinda imperative that a GPS app should at least be able to find a GPS signal and lock onto it.

James Morris

July 24, 2009, 9:08 pm

@JGM Glad to hear it. As you can see from Barry Ward's comment, though, it could be a 3G rather than 3GS issue!

Barry Ward

July 27, 2009, 2:48 am

The review, I'm afraid, is already out of date. An update came out over the weekend, which added many things, including SAFETY CAMERAS! I drove down to my mums house on Friday, and was disappointed to see the Navigon losing GPS signal around her area of Watford, and it thought I was driving through fields rather than the road I was on! However, I drove back up to Birmingham with the update installed, and it told me of the speed cameras leading up to the motorway junction with "Beware, watch your speed" (or similar), which is a lot more pleasant than the TomToms beep! Also, you can also have the road names displayed on the 3D view now too. Other enhancements include the volume of your iPod music dropping to a very low volume when your guide wants to tell you something, with the music volume increasing to the normal level after she stops speaking. She is now much more clearer when you are playing music because of this. Also, there are enhancements with POI's. Now, you can choose which of the dozens of types of interest you want it to display. So, if you have a Vauxhall for example, you can tell it to just display Vauxhall garages, and not Fords etc. Also with POI's, when searching for a POI such as a store, it will often display their phone number too, and tapping the phone number gives you the option to call them. I was also very impressed with how it didn't lose GPS signal on the way home like it did on the way down. What I found strange was no mention at all of the speed cameras in the update details, even though it is definitely a part of the update. Overall, VERY impressed with the app now, and thoroughly recommended by me.

James Morris

July 30, 2009, 6:11 pm

@Barry Ward You beat me to it! Yes, the update has delivered on its promises. There's also the route planner in there, so you can set up a journey with multiple waypoints. The app is now mostly in line with Navigon's Windows Mobile equivalent, with the exception of the weather forecast and hotel booking facilities included with the latter. The most important thing is the safety camera data, though (and better GPS lock for those experiencing that problem, which I haven't been). I think my biggest criticism of MobileNavigator as it stands now with the update is that you can't navigate to a postcode alone, and the contacts link is still completely broken.

Barry Ward

August 2, 2009, 10:20 pm

Agreed James. And why can't we just have a search option when searching for a location, where you can type in the name of a POI (such as "Chester Zoo" for example, or a post code, and it will come up with matches? Surely that will be very user-friendly. Other than that, I am now very happy with it.


August 5, 2009, 5:47 pm

Did a bit of digging on this, Interesting...

Downloaded MotionX GPS Lite to see how it performed on my iPhone.

Result: Pretty poorly, took ages to find a lock. Same as Navigon.

Turned off 3G in my phone settings:

Ran GPS Lite - A lock in seconds.

Ran Navigon - A lock within 20 secs, much better than before. Still drops the signal alot though.

Turned on 3G in my iPhone settings:

Tested again. Back to no GPS lock for ages.

I think there's a problem somewhere here. When 3G is switched on, the phones GPS performance is pretty poor, when not it's reasonably accurate. I've rebooted the phone a few times to check this out. Always the same results.

So what's the cause? the iPhone software? Hardware? who knows, but it would be interesting to find out if folks who are having GPS issues with an iPhone 3G with os 3.01 could test this out.


September 21, 2009, 10:34 am

I bought this and it cannot get a GPS lock for more than 3 seconds every 3-5-minutes. Google maps tracks consistantly if I switch over showing that it is the software not the iPhone hardware. I complained to iTunes on the 16 Dep and demanded a refund but have not heard anything since. I am going to register a complaint to the government Consumer Direct website and I will sue them for a refund through the small claims court if nessisary. Appaling software and customer service.

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