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What is GLONASS in Mobile Phones


GLONASS is an acronym, which stands for Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema, or Global Navigation Satellite System. GLONASS is Russia’s version of GPS (Global Position System).

Who built it?

Soviet Union started the development of GLONASS in 1976. GLONASS is the most expensive program of the Russian Federal Space Agency, consuming a third of its budget in 2010.

what is glonass in mobile


The various versions of GLONASS were

  1. GLONASS – launched in 1982, the satellites launched were intended to work for weather positioning, velocity measuring and timing anywhere in the world or near-Earth space by the military and official organisations.
  2. GLONASS-M – launched in 2003 add second civil code. It is important for GIS mapping receivers.
  3. GLONASS-k – started in 2011 again has 3 more types namely k1, k2 and km for research. Adds third civil frequency.

What is A-GLONASS?

A-GLONASS, Assisted GLONASS is very similar to GLONASS but A-GLONASS brings more features for smartphones. It brings features such as turn by turn navigation, real time traffic data and more. It uses the cell towers near your location to lock your location quickly with the help from your data connection. A-GLONASS also enhances the performance in chip-sets that come with GLONASS support.

How much did GLONASS cost?

In the past decade ie. 10 years up to 2011 the Russian government spent about 5 billion dollars on GLONASS project, the most expensive ever by Russian Federal space Agency.

How is GLONASS different from GPS?

GPS developed by USA has a network of 31 satellites covering this planet and has been widely used in commercial devices like mobile phones, navigators etc.

GLONASS is developed by Russia originally started by Soviet Union in 1976. This has a network of 24 satellites covering the earth.

The image shows the orbit and constellation of GLONASS (left) and GPS (right).

The image shows the orbit and constellation of GLONASS (left) and GPS (right).

Commercial Use of GLONASS:

GLONASS was first commercially used in car navigator as Glospace SGK-70 but was bulky and expensive.  Russian government is trying hard to promote GLONASS commercially.

Commercial Use of GLONASS

iPhone 4S was the first apple product to use both GPS and GLONASS for pinpointing location on maps.

All the high end devices in near future that supports GPS facilities, especially navigators are expected to include GLONASS receivers on their chip to use location based services.

Advantage of GLONASS over GPS (GLONASS Vs GPS):

There is no clear advantage other than accuracy over GPS. When used alone GLONASS doesn’t have that strong coverage as GPS has, but when both used together certainly increases accuracy with coverage. And it is more useful in northern latitudes as Russia started GLONASS originally for Russia.

The accuracy is an advantage of GLONASS with up to 2 meter of accuracy. GPS + GLONASS allows your device to be pin pointed by a group of 55 satellites all across the globe. So when you are in a place where GPS signals are stuck like between huge buildings or subways, you will be tracked by GLONASS satellites accurately.

What is offered for smartphones?

 smartphones glonass

Today any mobile phone whether it is a high end or a low budget smartphone is equipped with A-GPS (assisted Global Positional System) which uses network capabilities to find your location.

Now with GLONASS being offered for public services, more and more smartphones are being launched with GPS+GLONASS technology to use dual core location based service to find location. Initially only Flagship or high end smartphones boasts these features but as time will progress, we will see both these technologies being equipped on low and mid-range smartphones. More and more companies and chip manufacturers seem to be interested in GLONASS technology, so more and more smartphones are expected to be launched with this technology.

List of Smartphones that support GLONASS

Smartphone Manufacturer Mobile Phone Model
AcerAcer Liquid S2
AlcatelAlcatel OT-995
AppleiPhone 4S
AppleiPhone 5
AppleiPhone 5C
AppleiPhone 5S
AsusPadFone 2
AsusPadFone Infinity
AsusASUS MeMO Pad FHD 10 ME302C
AsusASUS MeMO Pad 10 ME102A
AsusASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176C
AsusASUS Fonepad 7 ME372CG
AsusASUS Fonepad 7 ME175CG
BlackBerryBlackBerry Z10
BlackBerryBlackBerry Q10
HTCHTC Butterfly
HTCHTC Butterfly S
HTCHTC Desire 600
HTCHTC One Mini 2
HTCHTC Windows Phone 8S
HTCHTC Windows Phone 8X
HuaweiHuawei Ascend D1 Quad XL
HuaweiHuawei Ascend G600
HuaweiHuawei Ascend G615
HuaweiHuawei Ascend Mate
HuaweiHuawei Ascend P2
HuaweiHuawei Ascend P6
HuaweiHuawei Honor (U8860)
HuaweiHuawei Honor 2
LGLG Nexus 4
LGLG Nexus 5
LGLG Optimus G
LGLG G2 mini
LGLG Optimus G Pro
LGLG Optimus Sol
LGLG Venice
LGLG Optimus L9
LGLG Optimus L9II
MeizuMeizu MX2
MotorolaMotorola Atrix HD
MotorolaMotorola Moto E
MotorolaMotorola RAZR
MotorolaMotorola MOTO G
MotorolaMotorola MOTO X
MotorolaMotorola RAZR HD
MotorolaMotorola RAZR M
MotorolaMotorola RAZR MAXX
MotorolaMotorola DROID 4
MotorolaMotorola DROID RAZR
MotorolaMotorola DROID RAZR HD
MotorolaMotorola DROID RAZR M
MotorolaMotorola DROID RAZR MAXX
MotorolaMotorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD
NokiaNokia Lumia 520
NokiaNokia Lumia 525
NokiaNokia Lumia 620
NokiaNokia Lumia 625
NokiaNokia Lumia 710
NokiaNokia Lumia 720
NokiaNokia Lumia 800
NokiaNokia Lumia 820
NokiaNokia Lumia 822
NokiaNokia Lumia 900
NokiaNokia Lumia 920
NokiaNokia Lumia 925
NokiaNokia Lumia 928
NokiaNokia Lumia 1020
NokiaNokia Lumia 1520
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S Duos 2
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Ace 2
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Ace 3
SamsungSamsung G350 Galaxy Core Plus
SamsungSamsung Ativ S
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Chat
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Exhilarate
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Express
SamsungSamsung G3815 Galaxy Express 2
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Grand
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Grand 2
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Mega
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Music
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note II
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note III
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Pocket
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Pocket Neo
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Fame
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S II Plus
SamsungSamsung S7582 Galaxy S Duos 2
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S III
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S III Mini
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S IV
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S IV Active
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S IV duos++
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S V
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S Relay 4G
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Xcover 2
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Win GT-I8552
SamsungSamsung Omnia W
SamsungSamsung S8600 Wave III
SamsungSamsung Focus
SamsungSamsung Galaxy Trend 7392
SamsungSamsung S7580 Galaxy Trend Plus
SamsungSamsung z
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia active
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia arc
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia arc S
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia neo
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia neo V
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia pro
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia ray
Sony EricssonSony Ericsson Xperia acro hd
StarmobileStarmobile Navi
SonySony Xperia acro HD
SonySony Xperia acro S
SonySony Xperia AX
SonySony Xperia ion
SonySony Xperia neo L
SonySony Xperia S
SonySony Xperia SL
SonySony Xperia SP
SonySony Xperia SX
SonySony Xperia T
SonySony Xperia TL
SonySony Xperia TX
SonySony Xperia V
SonySony Xperia VL
SonySony Xperia Z
SonySony Xperia Z Ultra
SonySony Xperia ZL
SonySony Xperia ZR
SonySony Xperia Z1
SonySony Xperia Z2
XiaomiXiaomi Phone 2
XiaomiXiaomi Phone 2A
XiaomiXiaomi Phone 2S
XiaomiXiaomi Phone 3

How Google Maps makes use of GLONASS and GPS?

Google Maps and the other mapping apps like Nokia’s HERE Maps and Apple Maps use the data connection to connect to the satellites of GLONASS and GPS. The modern day smartphones come with A-GPS and A-GLONASS support, which brings features such as turn by turn navigation, location tracking and real time location info.

How to use GLONASS on Android smartphones?

While GLONASS works in the background on Android smartphones. You can check if it’s working on your Android smartphone or not thanks to an app on the Play Store.

The GPS Test app lets you check the status of your GPS and GLONASS. The apps show you the signal your smartphone receives from various satellites, your current location on the map and in text and more.

Does GLONASS + GPS drain battery twice as faster than what GPS does?

As a matter of fact renowned manufacturers like Qualcomm are already with energy efficient solutions for phones powered by snapdragon processors. The chip will intelligently switch on and off the GLONASS signal receiver when needed. So smartphones would be energy efficient unlike the earlier generation phones with battery drainer GPS systems.

What’s next after GLONASS and GPS? Is this the end?

What’s next after GLONASS and GPS? Is this the end?

European Union is currently working on a system called GALILEO which is to be completed by the end of 2014.

China is developing its own constellation of 35 satellites called Compass Navigation system. It will offer more capabilities than current GPS.

GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) is the collection of satellite positioning systems used on Global level including GPS, GLONASS, COMPASS, and the European Union’s Galileo satellite system.

IRNSS or Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System is autonomous satellite system being developed by ISRO(Indian Space Research Organisation ) and will offer public service and restricted service(authorized users like military). These system would consist constellation of 7 satellites.


Image Courtesy: Wikipedia, Updated on: September 2014

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  1. Swordfish says:

    Hi. Thank you for the very interesting article. Am wondering if it would be possible to create an alternative Internet using the GLONASS System???

    1. Anurag Bisht says:

      Rather than alternative internet, these navigation systems from different countries and unions can really make navigation devices much more reliable on public devices and services to local people

  2. Narendra Singh Rathore says:

    Yes It’s working fine in my samsung TAB 3 P211

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