✏ A little Guide to ... GPS on the Fairphone (FP1(U) / FP2)

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Since GPS problems are among the most mentioned problems on the forum I thought I’d make a little guide on how to improve GPS performance of your Fairphone. I’m taking my info from other posts on the forum and my own experience.

I. How to speed up Time to first GPS fix (TTFF)

  • Faster GPS: Faster GPS is an app that helps you change some parameters of the system so you’ll connect to satellites faster. Download it to set your NTP Server (set Continent & Region). Before going abroad (and when coming back) it’s wise to change that setting. On FP2 also go to advanced settings and set INTERMEDIATE POS to 1.
    After changing the settings restart the app to see if it saved the. E.g. on Lineage OS I can’t get it to do so.
  • A-GPS: The Fairphones are devices that allow Assisted GPS or A-GPS, wich is a method to improve the TTFF. To enable A-GPS on your FP1 (on FP2 it’s enabled by default) go to “Settings”>“Location Access”>tap on “GPS Satelites” and check “A-GPS”. A-GPS downloads data from a server via mobile networks, so this only works if you are connected to mobile internet.
    However you can download Apps like SatStat to (regularly) download A-GPS data also via Wifi. SatStat will also give you a visual feedback on your GPS Status.
    If SatStats complains that it has no connection check your Firewall, Adblocker, Hosts File & Co.
  • EPO (Only FP1): Extended Prediction Orbit is an additional A-GPS method developed by Mediatek which downloads data with Satellite Position predictions for up to 30 days. You can enable EPO downloads at “Settings”>“Location Access”>tap on “GPS Satellites”>“GPS EPO assistance”. If you have Fairphone OS 1.8+ also go to “EPO Settings” and enable “Auto download”.
    If you can’t seem to update the EPO data try this old guide.
  • A-GPS vs EPO (only FP1): A-GPS and EPO are different methods (using different GPS data files) to speed up your TTFF. If you disable both, you may have to wait for a very long time (several minutes). EPO data files are valid for one month, but getting an initial fix using EPO is still a bit slow (up to one minute). A-GPS data files are valid for 4 hours, but TTFF is much shorter (about 15 seconds).
    • EPO can be useful when going on a longer vacation or when you lack data connection for a while.
    • A-GPS gives you the best performance but needs a good data connection.
    • Since EPO tends to interfere with/overtake A-GPS, disabling EPO is the thing to do when you have a good connection.
      At least for some users it is not sufficient to disable EPO in order to get the quick A-GPS fix. If you experience this, delete the files EPO.DAT and EPOHAL.DAT from the /data/misc/ folder. You need a file manager with #dic:root privileges to find and delete the files. (Thanks to @keesj for pointing this out).
  • Network Location: Enabling a Network Location Provider (NLP) (On FP1 it’s in “Settings”>“Location Access”>“Wi-Fi & mobile network location”, on FP2 simply choose “high accuracy” in the Location Settings) will not only provide you with a rough position until your GPS gets a fix but also improve your TTFF. If you don’t use Google Services you can use µg UnifiedNlp for GAPPS-free devices as a #dic:floss alternative.
  • General Tips:
    • Until you get a GPS fix, unplug your Phone, go outside and don’t move! Also make sure you already have an App running that will keep your GPS fixed.
    • Recommended apps for checking GPS status (e.g. during first fix): are the above mentioned SatStat, GPS Test or GPS Status & Toolbox, …
    • If you are planning to use GPS often during a day, it will help to first wait for a good fix before starting your activities (unplugged, outside, resting). This will speed up all your later fixes (especially during moving or in bad reception conditions)!

II. How to keep GPS fixed

Once you have a fix - even if you lose it e.g. while driving through a tunnel - GPS should re-fix much faster than before and you won’t need to be all the way outside.
There are still some more points to consider:

  • Use the right charging cable: You may have to try out different cables to find out which mess with GPS and which don’t. @Zimlaboum states here that using a “data cable” is better than using a “charging cable”. Also read here.
  • Stay near a window Once fixed, GPS will work inside a car or other vehicle but if possible make it a bit easier by keeping your device close to a window.

III. GPS & Location Related Issues

  • On the FP1 some people experience problems with navigation and tracking not necessarily connected to GPS (see here).
    Solution is to install #dic:xposed and #dic:gravitybox and tick “Fix location issue” in “General Fixes”.