What to do if GPS doesn't work on Android

What to do if GPS doesn't work on Android

The geolocation function in the Android devices it is one of the most used and demanded, so it is doubly unpleasant when this option suddenly stops working. Therefore, in our material today, we want to talk about methods of dealing with this problem.

Why does GPS stop working and how to fix it

Like many other communication module problems, GPS problems can be caused by both hardware and software. As practice shows, the latter are much more common. Hardware reasons include:

  • poor quality module;
  • metal or just a thick casing that protects the signal;
  • poor reception in a specific place;
  • manufacturing defects.

Programmatic reasons for problems with geolocation:

  • change location with GPS disabled;
  • incorrect data in the gps.conf system file;
  • outdated GPS software.

Now let's move on to the methods of solving the problem.

Method 1: cold start GPS

One of the most common causes of GPS failure is moving to a different coverage area with no data. For example, you went to another country, but the GPS was not turned on. The navigation module did not receive the data update in time, so you will need to re-establish communication with the satellites. This is called a cold start. It is done very simply.

    1. Get out into a relatively clear area. If you are using a cover, we recommend that you remove it.
    2. Turn on GPS reception on your device. Go to "Settings" On Android up to 5.1 - select option "Geodata" (Other options - "GPS" , "Location" o «Geolocation» ), which is located in the network connections block. On Android 6.0-7.1.2, scroll through the list of settings to the block "Personal information" and touch «Locations» .

      On Android 8.0-8.1 devices, go to Security and location , go there and select Location .

    3. In the geodata configuration block, in the upper right corner, there is an enable slider. Move it to the right.
    4. The device will have GPS enabled. All you need to do next is wait 15-20 minutes for the device to tune in to the position of the satellites in this area.

As a general rule of thumb, after the specified time has elapsed, the satellites will go live and the navigation on your device will work properly.

Method 2: manipulate the gps.conf file (root only)

The quality and stability of GPS signal reception in a Android device can be improved by editing the gps.conf system file. This manipulation is recommended for devices that are not officially supplied to your country (for example, Pixel, Motorola devices manufactured before 2016, as well as Chinese or Japanese smartphones for the domestic market).

To edit the GPS configuration file yourself, you need two things: root rights and a file manager with the ability to access system files. The most convenient way is to use Root Explorer.

  1. Launch Ruth Explorer and navigate to the internal memory root folder, also known as the root. If necessary, grant access to the application to use root rights.
  2. Go to location of the system , then in the /etc. .
  3. Find the file gps.conf within the directory.

    Attention! This file is missing from some devices from Chinese manufacturers! When you are faced with this problem, please do not try to create it, otherwise it may interrupt the operation of the GPS.

    Click and hold on it to select it. Then tap on the three dots in the upper right to open the context menu. In it, select "Open in a text editor" .

    Confirm your consent to the file system changes.

  4. The file will open for editing, you will see the following options:
  5. Parameter NTP_SERVERshould be changed to the following values:
    • For the Russian Federation - ru.pool.ntp.org;
    • For Ukraine - ua.pool.ntp.org;
    • For Belarus - by.pool.ntp.org.

    You can also use a pan-European server europe.pool.ntp.org.

  6. If there is no parameter in gps.conf on your device INTERMEDIATE_POS, enter it with a value 0; This will slow down the operation of the receiver a bit, but will make your readings much more accurate.
  7. Do the same with the option a DEFAULT_AGPS_ENABLEyou want to add a value TRUE. This will allow the use of mobile data for geolocation, which will also have a beneficial effect on the accuracy and quality of reception.For the use of A-GPS technology, the settings DEFAULT_USER_PLANE=TRUEis also responsible, which also needs to be added to the file.
  8. After all the manipulations, exit the edit mode. Remember to save your changes.
  9. Reboot the device and try the GPS operation using special test programs or a navigation application. Geolocation must work correctly.

This method works especially well for MediaTek SoC devices, but it also works well on third-party processors.


Summing up, we note that problems with GPS are still rare, and mainly on devices in the budget segment. As practice shows, one of the two methods described above will definitely help you. If this doesn't happen, you are most likely experiencing a hardware problem. You cannot fix these problems on your own, so the best solution would be to contact the service center for help. If the device's warranty period has not yet expired, you must replace or refund it.

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