Redux: My Journey With Nokia Drive

Recent events (ahem, iOS 6) have put mapping technology in the spotlight. I thought this would be a good time revisit my experience with Nokia Drive from back in December.

One of the things that I was most worried about when switching from Android to Windows Phone was a good replacement for Google Maps Navigation. While it may be eternally in “Beta,” Google Navigation is better than most dedicated GPS devices. I’m a person that travels out of state a couple times a month, so I knew I would have to find something to replace Google Navigation.

Nokia Drive was one app I saw that looked like it could serve my purposes. The only problem is it only comes on Nokia phones, and since I’m with Verizon who currently only offers the HTC Trophy I thought I was stumped. Luckily the fine folks over at XDA have the XAP files for all of the Nokia apps including Nokia Drive. A quick unlock with Chevron and I was on my way.

The big test came this weekend with the holidays. Like many people this time of year I traveled back and forth to see family and take part in the Christmas festivities. You might think I shouldn’t need turn-by-turn navigation to go see family, but then I’d say you clearly don’t know how inept I am with directions. Let’s just say I’d be lost without it.

The best thing about NDrive is that you can download an entire states worth of maps. Before the trip I downloaded the entire map of both Michigan and Ohio, the two states I would be traveling between. Surprisingly downloading both states only took up 1.4 GB of storage. A small price to pay for not having to rely on a 3G data connection while on the road. This alone is a huge advantage over Google Navigation.

Also, I should mention that the voice I chose to use for the turn-by-turn directions was “female English UK”. So right away I was enjoying the British lady telling me to “turn right onto the motorway” instead of the stark robotic voice of Google Navigation bossing me around.

So with a full battery, maps pre-loaded, and my destination keyed in I embarked on my trip. There were two things I especially wanted to pay attention to on this first run with Nokia Drive.

  1. The route differences and travel time compared to Google Navigation.
  2. Battery life with offline maps.

Route/Travel Time

I left at 1:30 PM on the dot with 100% full battery. After a while I noticed the British lady was taking me on a slightly different route. I may not be an expert on where to turn, but I can tell when I’m somewhere I haven’t been before. Below is a comparison of routes used by Google Navigation and Nokia Drive.

With Google Navigation it takes me 4-4.5 hours to reach my destination. With Nokia Drive it took me about 3 hours and 45 minutes. That may not seem like much, but it felt a lot quicker for some reason. The route that Nokia Drive took me on was also less stressful. There is a section of the trip that Google Nav always confuses me with. The voice says to go right but the map shows going left. Nokia Drive didn’t even take me on this section.

Battery Life

With my DROID 2 and Google Navigation battery life was always a concern. Since Google Nav requires a data connection to work, and I need the screen on to see the directions, it tended to chew up battery. I have a car charger because of this, but the problem is my phone would get so hot that the phone refused to charge. With Nokia Drive I was able to drive 3.5 hours without having my phone plugged in to the charger. That’s awesome, and yet another reason why offline maps rock.


I was really nervous about how Nokia Maps would perform compared to the high standards Google Nav set. I even had my DROID 2 on hand in case I needed to stop and activate it on the side of the road. In the end Nokia Drive went well above any expectations I had. Not only did it get me to my destination faster, but it was also a lot easier on my phone. I always felt like using Google Nav for 4 hours was really taxing on my DROID 2, but Nokia Drive didn’t make my HTC Trophy shed a drop of sweat. I look forward to more trips so I can use Nokia Drive. If you have a Nokia or unlocked phone this is one app every traveler needs.

  • fuel13

    Great write up! This has been one of my biggest concerns with switching to windows phone as well.