Right before Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S on October 4th, The Next Web published a story where they claimed the new iPhone would have “more definitive GPS features.” Turns out they were right, even though it hasn’t been officially confirmed.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but location services on the iPhone 4S are sharper than ever. That’s because Apple added support for some Russian technology to the mix…

Quietly hidden in the iPhone 4S specs page, Apple notes that the new device now brings support for GLONASS, on top of GPS. “What the heck is GLONASS,” you may ask. You can read all you want about it on Wikipedia, but the short version is that GLONASS is the Russian equivalent of the GPS technology.

While it’s pretty much on par with GPS, GLONASS is slightly more accurate on Northern latitudes because of the orbital position of its satellites. But because the iPhone 4S supports both GLONASS and GPS, the accuracy of location on the device is much better.

“Some modern receivers are able to use both GLONASS and GPS satellites together, providing greatly improved coverage in urban canyons and giving a very fast time to fix due to over 50 satellites being available. In indoor, urban canyon or mountainous areas, accuracy can be greatly improved over using GPS alone.”

While it hasn’t been officially confirmed or tested, it does seem like the support for GLONASS has made location services on the iPhone 4S slightly more accurate.

Have you noticed any improvements?

  • I’m really enjoying the GPS features. Had no idea they were also using the russian GPS system. I seem to notice the GPS icon up in the status bar quite frequently. It makes me wonder, is this whats reducing my battery life?

  • Zack

    That gps icon cOmes up when you set a geolocation reminder. Gps battery life for me seems better. Wonder if it’s because the phone doesn’t have to work as hard to keep a signal?

  • Apple now uses anonymous GPS tracking for Traffic:


    I disabled this feature by going to Settings > Locations Services > System Services > Tap Off for Traffic. Worth a shot at trying to conserve on battery life.

  • Ru folk

    Yay, our technology is in the new iphone!