One of the tricky issues when it comes to Android troubleshooting is GPS issue. In this post, we try to explain why a Galaxy Note9 appear to provide inaccurate GPS tracking results.
Problem: Galaxy Note9 GPS not providing accurate results
I have a Note9. This post is about GPS tracking during activities such as running and cycling. All the Apps – Runkeeper, Samsung Health, and Google Fit – share a common GPS input. So the distance tracked is identical in each. The primary issue I have is that the GPS records me as having run over buildings, especially during turns. During road runs with several 90deg tight turns, it inconsistently records larger turn radii, and often tracks points that are on top of buildings, reducing the tracked distance by 4-5%. On running track/ trail runs in a stadium, it seems to randomly spiral in, reducing the distance by 6-8%. I downloaded GPS Status and ToolBox. Flushed the AGPS. After this, there was improvement in the first ’round’ around the block. Everyone after started reducing the distance. I lose about 45m to the km, in comparison to measurements on my earlier Xiaomi A1, and iPhone7. I did some other settings tweaks, such as allowing background activity for Runkeeper. But to no avail. I have just one unusual app – Adguard – installed. But this was there on my earlier and far cheaper Xiaomi A1, and seemed to have no effect on the GPS.
Solution: While GPS have gone a long way since it was made available for commercial use, performance results often vary from phone to phone. There are a lot of variables involved when troubleshooting GPS performance and deeper, firmware-level tweaks are not available for end users.
Adjust GPS setting on your device
In Samsung phones in particular, the only way to adjust GPS performance is by going under Settings > Connections > Location. If you want to improve on the default setting, you can use High accuracy option so your device will try to use as many available tracking units around it as possible. Other than this, the rest of the troubleshooting steps that you can do won’t guarantee anything.
Your Note9’s GPS uses satellites by default but you can change that by opting for High accuracy under Settings. This tells the system to use cell towers, nearby wifi networks, and satellites in finding its position. While this looks fine on paper, it doesn’t always work.
GPS results different between phones
GPS hardware vary between phones. Some phones may pick up GPS satellite signals better than others and so provide better GPS performance when used by apps. When it comes to GPS, it’s still a highly dynamic function in phones nowadays so we suggest that you use it for approximation only. Error will always be there. And even if we assume that your Note9’s GPS hardware works as intended, some other factors like network latency, GPS signal interference, cellular connectivity, weather, or number of satellites can also play a role. You can use two exact Note9 models in your regular runs and there will always be different GPS results for both of them.
We understand you want a more improve and more accurate GPS data on your Note9 but there’s nothing much that you can do as an end user about it. If you really need to get more accurate results, you can experiment with other phones or use a dedicated GPS unit. If you think the older phones provided more accurate results, then stick with them instead.
Third party apps
Using apps such as GPS Status and ToolBox to troubleshoot GPS problems are hit-and-miss. In some phones, resetting or flushing the GPS cache may help while in others, there may no difference at all. That’s because again, GPS hardware is not universal for all phones and there are many factors that can affect GPS performance. Even high-end, dedicated GPS units can’t provide accurate results when used in the same exact situation or condition.