There is a setting for turning off WiFi and cellular data but I cannot see one for GPS (unless the location setting is just for GPS?).

It seems like the phone will try to get the location via other means first (e.g. triangulation) while waiting for a satellite, but its ultimate goal is to always use the GPS sensor.

When getting your location are you forced to always use Assisted GPS? Will it ever give up trying to get a satellite lock?


As far as I can tell, the phone will triangulate your position first as this is quicker. However, it is less accurate. Once a connection has been made to the GPS, it switches to that, and your location should be much more precise.

I have seen the phone give up while trying to connect to the GPS. Usually while I am in doors, or around some other structure blocking the view to the sky. It displays a message somewhere along the lines of Could not find your location right now

Every application has to ask your permission before getting your location. Microsoft is very strict about this even for 3rd party applications. I believe they even have to provide a way to turn it off. (I could be wrong on that one) Dig around in the app settings to turn it off.

Also, under your phone settings is a Location section. Turn that off to disable location all together. Please note that turning your Data off does not turn off Location Services.

  • 4
    Additionally, applications can request a low resolution version of the location, and it is my understanding that this is based on information without having to use the GPS sensor. – Rowland Shaw May 23 '12 at 16:21

Windows Phone uses cellular triangulation, Wifi and GPS in the "Location Service" (Probalby in this order).

Because this you have only one place you can disable your location and it is in the "Location" section of the settings.

You, as an user, can't know witch method Windows Phone is using but some apps can guest you are using GPS. It is because "altitude" is always "0" if you are not using GPS.

Since it uses others methods before GPS you can find your position faster you you have cellular signal and Wifi but I think it is not related to cellular data itself.


I've played around with the GPS module on the phone. As a developer, using triangulation is an option, but it is not mandatory to go through that first. The test app I built goes straight to getting the GPS location from the GeoCoordinateWatcher, and allows me to change advanced GPS settings. But the interesting thing I found was that, as a developer, when I initiate the watcher with the settings, I couldn't do anything else other than listening for location changes.

Here's my app if you want to play around with it: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-US/apps/65e173dd-c7e7-4881-a836-8a264d2a1600?wa=wsignin1.0


I took the SIM card out, turned WiFi off and went outside. Using Nokia drive with offline maps it was able to use GPS to find my location. But, it took around 5 minutes to lock onto a satellite. So having a data or cellular connection allows the phone to connect to an Assisted GPS server to get the satellite co-ordinates—this co-ordinate information makes a considerable reduction in the time taken to get a lock.


To answer your question, the only direct relationship between GPS location tracking and your data connection is triangulation. Your GPS unit functions independently of your data connection. It's the cellular connection in general which helps: The cell towers are used to triangulate your position so the GPS can get a lock on your device quicker.

After that, the data is only used to download map and directional information.

  • I am not sure that triangulation directly gets a lock faster. My understanding is that cellular data (3G, GSM, etc) is used to connect to an AGPS server which gives the phone the satellite co-ordinates. – row1 Jun 6 '12 at 15:06

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