The mobile sat nav showdown
As of 4 December 2017, learner drivers will be required to know how to operate a sat nav, and must be able to be guided by it for 20 minutes as part of their test. Which begs the question, which system is the best?
In lieu of a dedicated dash-mounted sat nav, two of the biggest mobile offerings available at the moment are Google Maps and TomTom’s Go app. So, let’s take a look at how they compare.
It’s hard to remember a time that relied on glove box-essential, the A-Z Road Map. But the digital age has well and truly banished the paper manual, making room for the now almost universal, satellite navigation. And TomTom has been at the forefront of the revolution for a while.
TomTom really shines in the real-time traffic department. In the UK, the system tracks every iPhone and Vodafone customer that has their GPS setting enabled, and updates its traffic system based on movement every 60 seconds. Because of this, you’re constantly fed the quickest routes available, letting you skirt around traffic jams and road works with ease.
The interface offers a lot of information, including your speed, the road’s speed limit, speed camera locations, and the likelihood of unavoidable delays. And you can also plan routes before you get in the car using the MyDrive website, which can then be shared with both the mobile app and the full sat nav system.
One of the key differences between the two mobile apps is that TomTom is a premium service. When you sign up, you’re allocated 50 free miles before having to put a hand in your pocket, whereas Google Maps is always free.
Unlike the above, Google doesn’t let you know where speed cameras are, nor does it receive updates on traffic jams as frequently as TomTom does. It’s also no good if you wind up somewhere without access to the internet, if you haven’t previously downloaded that area for offline use.
TomTom on the other hand lets you download entire countries (and continents) before you get started, so you’ll never be left without a map.
Google Maps is very good at voice recognition, something TomTom has only recently introduced. You can say something along the lines of “Okay, Google – show me supermarkets on my route” and it’ll bring up a list for you to choose from. TomTom has similar functionality, but through our testing, it doesn’t work quite as well.
Another thing we love about Google Maps is its Street View. This obviously isn’t so useful when you’re actually driving, but if you need to find out exactly what the address looks like before you set off, it’s a service TomTom can’t compete with.
Please note: In the UK it’s illegal to interact with your mobile phone when driving, and is only permitted if you have hands-free access. The offence can carry a 6-point penalty on your licence and a £200 fine.
The law still applies if you’re stopped a traffic lights, in queued traffic, or supervising a learner driver. You’re only allowed to use a mobile phone if you’re safely parked, or if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and its unsafe to stop.
TomTom GO Premium for feature-packed
The TomTom GO Premium is the most feature-packed, best connected, and smartest navigation device on the market, packing a number of features which help it compete with your smartphone. The state-of-the-art sat nav is designed to assists you throughout their journey from before you get in the car, through to the last few steps to your destination.
As well as TomTom’s powerful navigation and traffic information, the Go Premium comes with IFTTT (If This Then That) integration, so you can connect to home devices, interact with personal digital assistants, sync appointments, and get notifications. For example, when you arrive home, the gate or garage door will automatically open, and when leaving the house, the lights will switch off.
Built-in Wi-Fi will ensure that the software and maps are always up-to-date, while you can use the TomTom MyDrive companion app to pre-plan your route, sending a destination to the device. During the drive, the TomTom GO Premium can share location and arrival time with contacts (if you have an Android phone), and once the destination has been reached, the sat nav hands over to the TomTom MyDrive app to direct you on foot to the true final destination.
The Go Premium is available with either a 5 or 6-inch display.
Display: 5-inch touchscreen
Memory: 16 GB
microSD card support: Up to 32 GB
Battery life (between recharges): Up to 60 minutes
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB
Built-in SIM: Yes
Voice control: Yes
Traffic Information: Yes
Speed Cameras: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
+IFTTT Integration+Works with Siri and Google Assistant+Lifetime traffic and speed camera+Share your location and arrival time
REASONS TO AVOID
–Chunky design compared to Garmin–Some features Android only