G-Map for iPhone vs. Mio – Fight!

iPhone owners have anxiously awaited the ability to run turn by turn GPS applications. AT&T has introduced a subscription solution, Tom Tom has announced a version coming soon and Navigon released their North American version last week.  G-Map from X-Road (read Chris G full review from April here) is yet another option and is notably less expensive than the others.

G-Map downloads maps directly to the phone so, unlike AT&T’s offering, a data connection is not required. Price points vary as there are several purchasing options. $34.99 buys either a U.S West or U.S. East version. Six regional versions are available for $19.99.  For this review I used the $19.99 G-Map TX.

The home screen offers several options. You can choose where to go, go directly to the map or set the options for the Route.  Overall it is simple and to the point.  Clicking “Where To?” offers many options to choose your route. I used the address option several times on my trip and it was easy to enter and use.

For comparison I used my Mio Moov 300 along side G-Map on a trip to San Antonio. We live about 45 miles from the city and travel there often for shopping etc… Since I am familiar with the route it seemed like a good way compare how both devices worked in the real world.  My plan was this… start at home, get directions to a Lowe’s Hardware in San Antonio and test the units side by side during the trip.

Address entry:

G-Map includes simple text entry.  I entered city, street, then number, clicked on the address and quickly saw a small map of the destination.  While typing, search suggestions appear. This makes entry even faster.

Mio provides terrible text entry. Typing is difficult and sluggish which usually keeps me from using this feature.

Winner- G-Map… by a mile

Route Calculation:

Both devices calculated the route and were ready for use in just a few seconds.

When we begin the map the Mio instructed me to take a side street that is a short cut to the highway.  G-Map had me drive the main route to the highway. I is just a few blocks different, but I found i interesting that the iPhone did not choose the shortest route since that is what I had configured.

Winner- Mio… by three blocks

Voice guidance:

G-Map does not announce street names.  It audibly gives distances to the turn and adds descriptions such as “sharp right turn” when needed. This worked but was a bit disappointing. While the iPhone speaker did limit the sound quality and volume the voice was clear and easy to understand.  During this test, I listened to the voice through the car stereo. This overcame the limitations of the iPhone speaker and the sound was superb.

The Mio’s voice is more robotic sounding than G-Map but does provide more information. Street names and other descriptions are announced and the speaker is well suited to be heard in a moving vehicle. The extra information it provides is a nice feature although I often felt that the Mio was TOO VERBOSE. There were way too many reminders. That noted, better too many than not enough.

Winner: (In a robotic sounding voice) MIO

G-Map for iPhone vs. Mio - Fight!


G-Map was, overall, quite accurate. It did, however try to take me on an exit and back up on the next ramp while traveling on a major highway. OOPS! Other than that mistake, however the directions were accurate but that is a pretty significant mistake.

As usual, the Mio was spot on. That noted, however, the maps on the G-Map were more up to date and with lots of recent construction changing roadways in San Antonio, updated maps are important.

Winner: Mio (hey, exits are exits and my GPS shouldn’t get me into a headon collision)

Map Recalculation:

After purposely forcing a reroute. Both units’ calculations were fast.

G-Map provided a new route in seconds while the Mio took a little over 10 seconds. In one instance, the instructions were to perform a U-turn at the next available location. The Mio continuously repeated the instructions almost to the point where I wanted to turn it off. My 4 year old son asked me why I was letting those ladies boss me around!

Winner: G-Map (Faster and I didn’t want to throw IT out the window.)


G-Map only showed a few gas stations for points of interest.  Maybe the feature is stronger in other areas, but in the San Antonio Texas area there are very few included.  I do have to admit that I rarely use this feature on any GPS unit so this is not a deal breaker, but should get some improvement

Mio has more POIs but they are often not accurate.  Some gas stations are up to half a mile away from their actual locations.  It is hit or mis quite often.

Winner: AT&T Navigator, Navigon or Tom Tom… in other words both lost.

Bottom Line:
G-Map won’t be replacing a decent stand-alone GPS any time soon. If you are anxiously awaiting a gps option on the iPhone, G-Map will provide a cheap and pleasent experience.

Me?? I will keep the app on my phone to use in a pinch or travelling without my stand alone gps. I can see it being especially useful when finding stadiums on coaching trips. That noted, the Mio will be my gps of choice when taking a long trip with the family.
G-Map East
G-Map West
G-Map TX
G-Map CA
G-Map Canada

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About the Author

Travis Ehrlich
Travis is a high school teacher and coach in a small South Texas town. His love for gadgets began at a very early age, and he has been a cross between a jock and a geek for most of his life. He has two boys and a wonderful wife who lets him be a gadget freak. He is a Mac convert and has drank the whole pitcher of Kool-Aid! He is also an avid guitar player and loves the outdoors, especially hunting with both a bow and rifle.

5 Comments on "G-Map for iPhone vs. Mio – Fight!"

  1. I don’t get it. All of these are hobbled with the inability to have the whole country all at once. For what they charge, for a few bucks more you can get a dedicated GPS with a much louder speaker. The demographic of the average reader of geardiary can easily afford the dedicated unit or have one built in.

    Unless you are walking the streets of a city, I don’t see the value on an iphone. Since the darn thing can’t do any background applications, what happens when you get a call or an email, you lost the ability to be routed and can miss your turn.

    About the only device I see this viable in is a Pre and considering its meager 8gigs of RAM, unless it’s over the air (it might be, I don’t own one) you would tie up too much memory for just the maps.

  2. thehotrod | July 27, 2009 at 8:56 am |

    It may not be perfect, but it is the BEST Smartphone I’ve ever had. Windows Mobile doesn’t hold a candle to the iPhone. The Palm Pre may have more ability to run background apps, but it doesn’t have the PLETHORA of apps available to it that the iPhone has. Just because it can run multiple apps doesn’t win me over since there aren’t multiple apps to run. (yet)

    But still it is about convergence. It is one less device I have to carry. I have a MP3 player, a Garmin, and a Treo700wx. And really I had to use my Laptop for any real internet browsing. (The internet experience on the iPhone is simply amazing. I use 20 times the data over 3G and Wifi that I ever used on my Treo700wx. Now I can just carry my iPhone. I don’t have to carry all that stuff. I just need my iPhone.

    Thanks for the review. I’m really leaning to Navigon right now, but I’m digging through the couch to come up with $69.

  3. The Navigon app is much better than G-Maps, and it mimics the Navigon receiver (which I own) well. The G-Maps gui is inferior and entry of addresses is, I found, simply awful. You must choose a state and city from a dropdown list and then enter a number, but this is explained nowhere since the online manual is for an earlier version of the app. The whole app smacks of too hurried development. Navigon, on the other hand, gives you the entire US (and Canada), links to the built-in Contacts, and allows you to play your ipod. The voice is also louder. I think G-Maps is a waste of money.

  4. Rod-
    I’m with you. The convergence is key for me. I don’t mind if the app has to stop while I make call. I might find it to be problematic but I am willing to give it a shot in order to not need yet another device with me. At $69 the Navigon offering looks good… I just wish I knew when TomTom was releasing and what the price point is first…

  5. Travis Ehrlich | July 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm |

    I couldn’t see using this as my primary GPS solution. It is handy when I do not have anything else with me, but not an every day app. While I’m on a school bus and looking for directions it might prove to be handy. I plan on waiting to see what other options come available and at what price before I try another though.

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