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TomTom Navigation Europe for Android review

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  • Recommended by TR
TomTom Navigation Europe for Android

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Competitively priced at launch
  • HD Traffic subscription available
  • Lifetime map updates

Cons

  • Limited to 800 and 854 x 480 screen resolutions at launch
  • No Google Local Search
  • No social networking features built in

Key Features

  • Maps for 35 European countries
  • Full UK postcode entry
  • Points of Interest database
  • Lifetime map updates
  • HD Traffic and safety camera subscriptions available
  • Manufacturer: TomTom
  • Review Price: £49.99

Introduction

TomTom was relatively early to jump on the smartphone bandwagon with its TomTom for iPhone app. But it has studiously ignored the increasingly capable Android platform, until now. At last, you can install TomTom-powered navigation on your Android-run smartphone. With the free Google Maps Navigation providing stiff competition for nothing, the question is whether a premium sat-nav app has enough extra to be worth shelling out for.

TomTom Navigation for Android Features

Things don't get off to the best of starts at the installation stage. Annoyingly, at launch the TomTom app will only work with screen resolutions of 800 or 854 x 480, which currently counts out the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X, as well as most tablets. This is a major drawback, and is sure to subdue sales amongst premium device users, who are most likely to want to shell out for high-end navigation software. TomTom has pledged support for higher-resolution screens soon, but we opted to test the TomTom app on a Motorola Motoluxe to be sure of compatibility. You also need Android 2.2 or higher, but every recent handset should have this anyway, or the option to upgrade.

Prices start at £30.99 for UK and Ireland maps, with Western Europe costing £39.99 and the whole of Europe £49.99, although these figures are an introductory offer for an unspecified time only. There are also versions for most of the rest of the world, including North America, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, but only Brazil in South America, and just Southern Africa. It's worth noting that this is a big app. The initial download is less than 25MB, but when you first load the software it will then bring down the maps associated with your chosen purchase. The European software we tested takes up a cool 3.31GB, and there's no option at this stage of choosing just to install some of the countries covered - it's the whole of Europe, or nothing. So you will need to have at least that much space available on your device's internal memory or removable storage. On the plus side, unlike Google Maps, you will be able to use this software when you have no mobile data connection, as all the maps are stored locally.

Once the app is installed and running, the interface has most of the same features as the iPhone 5 compatible version, although the design aesthetics and menu configuration are quite different. Simply tap the map to call up the menu, where you can set your destination, or create a multi-waypoint trip, as well as access settings and the shop. Destination options include navigating to a full UK postcode, an address entered in the usual city-street-number order, or one of your contacts. There is no keyword address search, but the full category-based Points of Interest (POI) system does have this feature.

You can save favourites and a home location, as well as browse a list of recently found destinations. However, conspicuous by its absence is Google Local Search, a particularly strange omission on a Google-powered phone. There's also no option to enter raw coordinates, although not many people use this frequently. Once you have found your destination, IQ Routes is used for calculation. Real average traffic speeds are taken into account, based on time of day and day of week, so your route could be different depending on when you want to travel. In previous testing, we have found this provides much more realistic journey-time estimations than sat-navs that don't have this feature.

robjohn

October 31, 2012, 12:01 pm

Re: It is straightforward to download Google map areas to phone memory to use off line - from the Google Maps menu. I also use this feature for travelling in China, where online Google maps is blocked.

piesforyou

November 1, 2012, 3:41 am

Lack of social networking features is a con?

Bugblatter

November 1, 2012, 6:32 am

I thought routing required a connection. Is that not the case?

Bugblatter

November 1, 2012, 6:41 am

I've been using CoPilot for a few months; I wouldn't have minded a comparison.

What I do know is CoPilot's a lot cheaper plus you get free maps for life and a year's free traffic. I've got speed cameras too; I can't remember if that's free for a year or a permanent thing. It also works on the S3.

The app seems pretty good, although the UI seems very similar to the version I used on Windows Mobile years ago.

The routing in CoPilot sometimes beggars belief though, and it sometimes refuses to stick to the alternate route I've picked. Bad combination. Routing is the area they really need to work on and the one thing that tempts me to switch to TomTom.

Also the lane guidance is hopeless for me. The full-screen lane thing hides everything that would tell me how to actually get to where the lanes diverge. It's not a problem on motorways (just keep going forwards) but in other areas it's left me high and dry. I've disabled it.

Martin Daler

November 1, 2012, 11:14 pm

I thought you could download maps - in fact I have done just that. But then when I use Navigation I'm pretty sure it still sucks data - certainly that streetview photo at journey's end came from somewhere. How do you make sure Navigation is forced to use only downloaded maps, and not pull in fresh data?

robjohn

November 2, 2012, 6:18 am

@Bugblatter Yes, navigation in Google maps or Locations requires a data connection. My post was to correct the statement that Google maps is only usable when data connected. Caching of maps is very useful for some of us travelling outside Europe.

cliche

November 2, 2012, 9:35 pm

Wow - I used Copilot about 5 years ago on my ye olde Windows Mobile phone and gave up because of the routing and have been TomTom ever since. I'm shocked that they still have this problem.
I used my TomTom software on a road trip to New Zealand last year over both islands with no data. It was a life saver

Dj K 4 Yahweh

July 22, 2013, 8:07 pm

Nice review!!
loving it...def gonna buy this & subscribe to the live services like tomtom's HD traffic & speedcams.

Mike Goodsell

August 30, 2013, 3:27 pm

Downloaded it today, special offer of £24.99, it's rubbish ! Tried to set my home address by postcode, wasn't listed although it was built 28 years ago ! Tried to input postcode for a hotel I'm staying at this weekend, not there ! Fortunately I had a free £25 voucher, so it didn't really cost me a penny, I colleague has tomtom on his iPhone and its far superior.

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