How Does GPS Work Without Internet?

How Does GPS Work Without Internet? Global Positioning Systems are one of the marvels of modern technology. You can navigate your way around the world at the push of a button, thanks to satellites orbiting the planet. Think about how often you use GPS every day; while traveling, exploring the outdoors, and running errands.

Everyone knows that GPS works using data, but did you know that it’s possible to use this system without the internet? In this article, you’ll learn how to access GPS in a pinch when you have a poor connection or no internet access. 

Table of Contents

How to Use GPS Without Internet

A GPS device acts similarly to a radio. It receives signals from location data from satellites, which is why it’s independent of other signals like Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular data. Though GPS doesn’t use data, the apps that use this feature for navigation usually do. 

Again, your phone allows you to use GPS tracking offline, providing you save preloaded maps and other information using Wi-Fi or mobile data beforehand. Once this information is saved, you can use these apps for GPS navigation even without an internet connection. 

Man holding GPS navigator map

Man holding GPS navigator map

How to Use GPS Without Data Android

Most smartphone users have Android devices. With Android, there are several apps you can use to access GPS navigation services without data. 

Aside from Google Maps’ offline feature, there are options like OpenStreetMap (OSM), an open-source alternative to Google Maps. This app gets updated daily by its user base, giving it plenty of detailed and varied information. 

MapFactor GPS Navigation Maps also work with Android. It’s a turn-by-turn app that utilizes 1.8 million postcodes, allowing you to plan your route like other GPS apps that use data. Equally important, it offers 2D and 3D modes, a heads-up feature for drivers, and voice navigation. 

Online navigator and transportation routes concept

Online navigator and transportation routes concept

MapFactor GPS updates its maps monthly, free of charge. 

How to Use GPS Without Cell Service

You won’t always have access to premium cell service, especially if you’re traveling or in the wilderness. If you like going on hikes, road trips, or camping trips, this is a problem you’ll likely encounter at some point. So, what is the solution? Can you use GPS without cell service?

The answer is yes, you can. Your phone has an integrated GPS receiver that identifies your location without cell service. Moreover, if you store maps on your device, you can use them for navigation even in areas with no coverage, i.e., where there is no cell service or WiFi. 

Businesswoman connecting to WIFI

Businesswoman connecting to WIFI

Offline maps are accurate, showing you the precise coordinates on your device. They provide real-time information so you know exactly where you’re going. Again, these offline maps can also work with other apps, like Google Maps, to give you even more precise coordinates. 

How Can I Use GPS Without Data

There are several ways to use GPS without data.

Use Offline Mapping Apps

You can use many apps offline on your smartphone that use GPS without data. Two of the most common are Apple Maps (iOS) and Google Maps (Android). Finally, another great app is Navmi, which is compatible with Android and iOS. You can access maps anytime, even without data, to help you navigate your surroundings by downloading maps and storing them on your phone.

Use Fitness Apps

You probably didn’t know that fitness apps use GPS without data. Apps like Runkeeper and Strava use offline navigation systems to track your runs, hikes, walks, and bike rides. Besides, you can keep fit while saving all those routes and trails. That information can prove useful for other trips. 

Smartphone with a fitness app

Smartphone with a fitness app

Use Navigation Apps

Also known as “back-country” navigation apps, apps like ViewRanger and AllTrails have helped many hardcore backcountry travelers navigate their way around their surroundings. Furthermore, they let you preload maps before trips, allowing for smooth navigation in areas without data coverage. 

Determine Your Location

Noting your exact location on your smartphone using GPS without data. Saving these GPS coordinates can save you a lot of hassle, especially when traveling. Moreover, they act like bookmarks or digital signposts/markers for your trip.   


Can You Use a Phone as a GPS When Offline?

The GPS feature on your phone will always work, even with no cellular or internet connection. It is because your phone constantly tracks GPS signals from satellites that orbit the planet. 

Satellite signal receiver

Satellite signal receiver

Is It Possible to Use Google Maps Offline With GPS?

Yes, Google Maps has an offline feature on Android and iOS. You must enable the ‘Offline Maps’ option in the menu on the top right corners of your screen. 

If I’m in Another Country, Will My Phone Still Receive GPS Signals?

It depends. Suppose your smartphone maps or GPS apps work by downloading real-time information on directions. You will experience difficulties receiving GPS signals because of compatibility issues with foreign mobile service providers. 

Does the iPhone GPS Work Without Data?

Yes, you can operate your iPhone GPS without data, avoiding roaming charges while traveling overseas and accessing GPS tracking with no service.  Purchase and download the ‘OffMaps’ application to use this feature on your iPhone. 


GPS’s versatility and convenience need not be curtailed by data or cell service issues. Sometimes, you don’t have access to these things, but you still need to find your way around. With map-reading becoming an increasingly forgotten skill and smartphones available virtually everywhere, it makes a lot more sense to use your device as a GPS. 

So if you ever find yourself in a place with no cell towers or data, don’t worry; you can still navigate your surroundings using tailor-made apps and preloaded maps. Don’t let lack of internet hold you back. 

Leave a Comment