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TomTom For iPhone review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £60
inc VAT

Solid navigation, but this expensive app lacks too many of the features that make TomTom's standalone units so good.

Many iPhone users have been waiting for TomTom to launch its iPhone navigation app, but was it worth it?

Sadly, it appears that TomTom has rushed the app out to compete with CoPilot and Navigon, and there are some glaring omissions which make the app pale in comparison with TomTom’s standalone satnavs.

The interface works both in portrait and landscape, and the driving view looks the same as TomTom’s standalone satnav range. Menus adopt an iPhone list format. Entering a destination couldn’t be simpler, and there are both Recent Destinations and Favourites in the list. For new destinations, you can enter a full seven-digit postcode, city and street, choose a point of interest (POI), a point on the map or tap Contact to jump straight to your iPhone’s contact list.

Routes are calculated using TomTom’s IQ Routes data. This uses real road speeds, not speed limits, to provide the optimum route. A neat summary screen shows the distance and time it will take, plus a map of the route. You can plan routes in advance, choosing both a departure and arrival point, plus the date and time of travel, to include the IQ Routes information.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of features missing compared to TomTom’s Go range. While there are plenty of voices to choose from, there’s no text-to-speech function to read out road names. Safety camera locations are included, but you can’t alter the distance or alert sound for POI warnings. Also, you can’t customise the information bar at the foot of the screen.

MapShare (for map updates) is also absent, as is the ability to update the app via TomTom’s Home software or tie the app to your TomTom account. Make sure you choose which map you want wisely, as you can’t add maps later on.

The iPhone has a permanent data connection, so it’s odd that there’s no traffic information, fuel prices or Google local search for finding points of interest. Another unexplained omission is lane guidance, a useful visual aid for motorway junctions. Finally, there’s no automatic switching between day and night mode.

During our testing, we found TomTom’s guidance wasn’t always as sensible as Navigon’s and the screen didn’t update as smoothly either, but voice prompts were both timely and descriptive.

As with any satnav app, you need to pair it with a car-mounting kit. TomTom’s isn’t yet available, but has both a speaker and GPS receiver built in. This should overcome the problems of the iPhone’s weedy built-in speaker and occasionally poor GPS reception.

However, as it will cost around £100, it may be more cost-effective to buy a TomTom Go 530T satnav, which has a bigger screen than the iPhone, more options and more features.

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