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Apple Expands iPhone 4S GPS Capabilities with GLONASS Support

Apple yesterday quietly updated its iPhone 4S tech specs page to note that the device offers not only Assisted GPS but also GLONASS, the Russian version of GPS.


Just two weeks ago, Russia launched the last of 24 satellites required for global location coverage, setting the stage to restore GLONASS to its full operational status that had been lost amid economic turmoil in the country during the late 1990s.

Far from being a Russia-only service, some current global positioning hardware and software is capable of utilizing both GPS and GLONASS satellite information to provide more accurate geolocation information with faster acquisition times. We have reached out to Apple for comment on whether the iPhone 4S can in fact take advantage of satellites from both systems on a worldwide basis, as it is unclear from the tech specs whether this is the case, but have yet to receive a response.

Notably, only the tech specs page on the U.S. site has been updated to mention GLONASS capabilities, with the corresponding page in other iPhone 4S launch countries still listing only Assisted GPS as the device's satellite location service.

(Thanks, Jesse Perry!)

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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33 months ago
Presumably this is because Russia has proposed a 25% import duty on devices that support GPS but not GLONASS. Most GPS chip suppliers have updated to support GLONASS, so Apple just needs to turn it on.
Rating: 14 Positives
33 months ago

We didn't need an expanded GPS capabilities, we need an redesign.


"We" mean "you" right?
Rating: 9 Positives
33 months ago

We didn't need an expanded GPS capabilities, we need an redesign.


Oh shut up! I am tired of hearing this crap. Really. The design that iPhone 4 gave us is ahead of it's time. So was the unibody Macbook Pro. They continue to use that design with internal spec bumps... so why can't the iPhone do this as well. I dunno about you, but I just don't see any company making smartphones as beautiful as the iPhone 4/4S with almost entirely glass externals and external antenna design. Antennagate aside, as long as you don't bridge that corner of the phone, iPhone 4 had the best reception of any iPhone.. and the 4S is even better while eliminating Antennagate!
Rating: 8 Positives
33 months ago
It's nice to have two systems to rely on for position data. It's always been a bit worrying that GPS is the only one; what if the US government decided to be paranoid and shut it down, or make it less accurate?

Now TWO countries have to be stupid to rob us from location data.
Rating: 7 Positives
33 months ago
I wander if it will support Gallilio when that comes online?
Rating: 5 Positives
33 months ago
We didn't need an expanded GPS capabilities, we need an redesign.
Rating: 4 Positives
33 months ago
In Soviet Russia GPS track YOU!

Oh wait...
Rating: 4 Positives
33 months ago
The iPhone4S GPS did work for me last weekend in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The problem is that it doesn't have any way that I know of to pre-cache the maps, and for some reason I can't "install" an off-line version and take up 5-10 GB of local memory (Or use a bluetooth type of SSD hard drive with 256GB of Google Earth, Yahoo Maps, or any other map). So I was just a blue dot in a field of gray.
Rating: 4 Positives
33 months ago
I remember the days when "reached out" wasn't overused like it is now.
Rating: 3 Positives
33 months ago

We didn't need an expanded GPS capabilities, we need an redesign.


Come on, the current design is beautiful :) I'm serious. It is like the MacBook or the iMac, would you expect a radical redesign every year. Stay on topic. I'm sure there are a bunch of other threads where you can express your disappointment. What do you think about GLONASS support? Do you have to use your GPS in cities like New York, Los Angeles, etc. with high rises? I think a lot of people are going to be happy with the updated support. I actually have to get my foot out of my mouth as I wasn't expecting GLONASS support in the iPhone for a while. I thought it would lead to more battery consumption and there was no clamor for it. On the other hand I would understand that Russia would put pressure on Apple to support it if Apple wants to sell phones in Russia.
Rating: 3 Positives

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