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No GPS on Wi-Fi-only iPad mini

updated 08:12 pm EDT, Tue October 23, 2012

Wi-Fi+Cellular model to feature GPS

Customers buying one of the Wi-Fi only versions of Apple's newly-announced iPad mini will find that their devices will not have the GPS capabilities seen in comparable 7-inch tablets. A look at Apple's product page for the device reveals that the Wi-Fi+Cellular versions of the iPad mini -- priced $130 above their Wi-Fi only counterparts -- will have GPS technology, but the non-cellular units will not. Meanwhile, Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller has been defending the company's premium price point for the device, saying he expects customers to be "very excited" about the device despite its $329 entry point.

The absence of a GPS module on the Wi-Fi only model will likely mean that owners of that device will not be able to use location services when not connected to a wireless network. By comparison, a number of Apple's competitors' entries feature GPS modules, allowing for off-line turn-by-turn navigation and mapping.

Asked by Reuters about the iPad mini's pricing, Schiller pointed to the full-size iPad's continuing success in the face of competition from smaller devices. The Kindle Fire has been on sale in some form for nearly a year, while Google's Nexus 7 debuted this summer. Still, Schiller says that the iPad has gone on to phenomenal sales, even as those less costly devices are said to be experiencing solid sales.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. rexray

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-15-02

    I'm not sure how many users would consider the lack of GPS in the WiFi only versions of iPad mini to be a deal breaker. I personally use my iPhone for GPS (and yes, I'm using and liking Apple's Maps app). A tablet, even if it's a mini one, is too large for using as a GPS, IMO, unless you want to permanently custom-build it into the dash of your car, in which case, you have the bucks for the 4G version anyway. This is a tablet computer, after all, not an accessory for your car per say. The right tool for the job, and all that.

    BTW, location services such as "check ins" and "find near me" should still work via WiFi triangulation, just like the original iPhones, but you just won't be able to use it for real time directions in a maps app.

    You guys should know that Apple has rarely been one to offer products based solely upon a checklist of features, and they have rarely tried to sell products based upon what the competition is charging. Remember that while the competition may or may not be "experiencing solid sales," that was before there was a smaller iPad. It also doesn't seem to have affected Apple's dominance in the general, non-niche tablet computer market - I'm sure you saw in Apple's presentation that iPads account for 91% of all tablet computer web traffic. I'm guessing that Apple will sell a staggering number of iPad minis, and if so, the market will have weighed in upon whether it was priced too high or if there was no GPS in the WiFi-only model. Check back in a year and we'll see who's right.

  1. cgavula

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-03-11

    None of the WiFi-only iPads have had GPS.

  1. Inkling

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Apple should create a way for iPhones to send GPS data to iPads that lack GPS chips via Bluetooth. It'd cost little to create and be a major selling point.

  1. mr100percent

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 12-06-99

    My WiFi iPad 2 doesn't have GPS, neither did my WiFi only iPod touch. This isn't news.

  1. VoiceOfReason

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 09-11-12

    Why is this a news story? GPS with wi-fi only doesn't make a lot of sense.

    GPS only makes sense with 3G/4G AND wi-fi.

  1. smacker

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-24-03

    They sure do. I own an iPad 2 WiFi only and use GPS regularly on it.

  1. Kludge

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-19-12

    Please don't let people write articles that know nothing about Apple products. Wi-Fi only models have never had GPS.

    I can't wait for your next headline, "No cellular service in Wi-Fi only model!"

  1. aaberga

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-29-12

    This is already the case, since iOS 4.x (or iOS 5, not really sure..).

    Anyways I can use the original iPad in Wifi only mode or an older iPod touch with Maps, provided they are connected to the iPhone over its Wifi hotspot..

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by smackerView Post

    They sure do. I own an iPad 2 WiFi only and use GPS regularly on it.



    No, you are not.

    The wi-fi-only iPads have location services, but they work via wi-fi networks, NOT via GPS.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Most of you are missing the point of this article. It's not whether iPad WiFi has ever had GPS; it's that the iPad's competition does include it (note the 2nd paragraph). It's newsworthy in that the iPad (mini) is missing a selling feature that for its price it should include.

  1. revco

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-10-05

    Was hoping the mini would have a "mini-only" feature or two. Not this time I guess. I'll wait for mini 2 or 3 to see how it matures. I'm tempted more than ever to get a Nexus 7 now.

  1. SOILandDIRT

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-24-12

    There are at least two really great GPS options for WI-FI only models. They are the Bad Elf GPS and the Dual GPS bluetooth receivers. There may be more but these are the two I am familiar with and have been using for the past two years. Both run about $100-$150, but they are much better (accurate/sensitive) than the built-in GPS on the iPhone and 3G/LTE models of iPad.

    To those who may think GPS is only useful in automobiles (and therefore the iPad-Mini would be too large), there are many more uses of GPS on these devices than navigation. I use the BadElf GPS (or the Dual) connected to my iPad 2 to record where I take water and soil samples or collect other spatial data (weed infestations, crop disease, good fishing spots). The iPad replaced a $3500 "rugged" field computer that I carried around for years. When my current iPad breaks, I'm most certainly going to buy the smaller iPad to lighten my load even further.

    I agree that having a built-in GPS would've saved us all some money, but there are certainly options beyond the simple WI-FI location service that each iPad has from Apple.

  1. MilMascaras

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-05-07

    Ah Crapola!
    Am I the last tech head who loves and appreciates low-cost GPS devices for turn-by-turn maps BUILT-IN to the memory, rather than depending on a wireless connection to load a network map?
    I was hoping the iPad Mini with GPS and loaded with Navigon Navigator Maps would be the PERFECT roadtrip companion, as even a nice 5" GPS unit with turn by turn can still cost over $300.
    I was hoping to dash mount an iPad mini in both my car and motorcycle, and figure out cool tricks and so on in the 7.9" form factor as a travelling companion. Sure, I have Navigon on my iPhone, but I was looking forward to making a cool GPS enabled travellers companion out of a future Mini purchase.... Crap

  1. cgc

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 03-25-03

    Originally Posted by VoiceOfReasonView Post

    Why is this a news story? GPS with wi-fi only doesn't make a lot of sense.
    GPS only makes sense with 3G/4G AND wi-fi.



    I think GPS is an important omission as I'd like to use an iPod Touch or an iPad Mini golfing, driving, etc. I understand it's cheaper to use "assisted GPS" on a consumer device but my Garmin doesn't need a cell tower or wi-fi connection to obtain a very accurate position. I'd love to see Apple offer a real GPS chip and digital compass in the iPod Touch or iPad Mini, until they do I may not even bother.

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    Originally Posted by cgcView Post


    I think GPS is an important omission as I'd like to use an iPod Touch or an iPad Mini golfing, driving, etc. I understand it's cheaper to use "assisted GPS" on a consumer device but my Garmin doesn't need a cell tower or wi-fi connection to obtain a very accurate position. I'd love to see Apple offer a real GPS chip and digital compass in the iPod Touch or iPad Mini, until they do I may not even bother.



    Assisted GPS is better than regular GPS, not worse. The iPad mini with Cellular data has a real GPS that is assisted.

    The "assisted" part is that is uses WiFi, and cell triangulation to quicker aquire a lock on location. Basically it locks on Quicker than your Garmin. Now, your Garmin probably has a better antenna so once it does get the lock, it'll work better (indoors and in tunnels, etc.) but your iPhone will likely lock on sooner when it doesn't already have one.

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