Comparison of GPS vs. AGPS

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Difference between GPS and AGPS

For most people, the only device one would ever need to keep track of position and to find destinations is a GPS. While the device has indeed served its purpose very well for a number of years, the changing times has brought about an innovation of sorts in the form of the AGPS. The similarity between the two names is no accident, as the AGPS is clearly positioned as an enhancement to the GPS spec. Does it have what it takes to make the cut? Let's take a look!


On Paper

The GPS or Global Positioning System was originally developed by the United States military for combat and tactical purposes. The entire system is reliant on information that it gets from the various satellites that are currently circling the earth. It then figures out the distances from the specific satellites used and uses trilateration in order to figure out the user’s position.

An AGPS or Assisted GPS unit for its part utilizes assistance servers in addition to the satellites used by GPS systems. These servers give the AGPS unit additional information to help it determine the user’s location. This is particularly useful when the satellite’s signal is of insufficient strength to provide an accurate reading.

In Use

GPS receivers have been around for a considerably longer time than AGPS units. GPS devices are often used in aircraft, boats and automobiles.

AGPS on the other hand is often seen in mobile phones that already have a data link. Thanks to the use of assistance servers, AGPS devices can determine the precise location of the user even when traditional GPS devices would not work. AGPS devices are also able to pinpoint position a lot faster than GPS units, especially on first boot up.


You do have to be aware that without an unlimited data plan, you may be charged extra for using AGPS. Many mobile phone companies also provide limited AGPS coverage. In any case, you will have to find out if your mobile phone company will charge you for the amount of data that you access or if it will charge you for the time that you stay connected.

There are some AGPS units that carry on where GPS no longer work, although many more devices simply cease working beyond GPS coverage. GPS receivers on the other hand will pinpoint your position anywhere on the world you are.



  • Relies heavily on satellites to determine position
  • Comes standard on standalone GPS devices
  • Service is usually free


  • Uses an assistance server in addition to the satellites in determining position
  • Mostly used in mobile phones
  • More reliable than GPS in some cases
  • Faster location calculating
  • Service is subject to certain fees
  • Some AGPS-equipped devices function as GPS receivers beyond network area but many will simply cease to work


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