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Which ipad has the best GPS receiver?

Hello everyone,

What do you recommend to buy: an ipad air 2 or mini 4? They have built-in barometers. I’m not really familiar with Apple stuff. Is it possible to connect my 128Gb MicroSD card to an ipad via some kind of adapter and still have the usb port to charge it?

I’m going to get one off ebay. What do I need to check?


Last Edited by superjet100 at 13 Aug 10:06

You should take a look here to find all answers to your questions.
iPad Pilot News

You should get yourself the most powerful model (mini or iPad Pro 10.5"), not the previous generation as a lot of newer features will noticeably slow down an earlier model. A friend of mine still used the iPad 2 but got in trouble with display features seriously delayed by the need for more processor power. Not good in some situations to wait to get your information displayed on time. He finally upgraded to a new one.

Last Edited by Flyamax at 13 Aug 12:01

I fly with an iPad Air (1st gen) and an iPad Mini 3. The Air is definitely faster but the Mini 3 also works for SkyDaemon, JeppFD and PDF reading. I would not go for the Pro 10.5" – too big, no way to mount it on the yoke. Actually for mounting the Mini is better but of course you get a smaller screen. I have a friend who changed to the pro and is also not happy for it because of the size. So, Air 2 or Mini 4 would be my choice.

I don’t think you can put a micro SD on anything except on the lightning port and I would not do that. Buy a model with more memory (enough to handle whatever you need, I think even 64 GB is enough for flying, 128 should definitely be OK) and be sure that everything is in it.

LSZH, LSZF, Switzerland

superet100 wrote:

What do you recommend to buy: an ipad air 2 or mini 4?

Mostly depends on the space available. My cockpit has lots of empty spaces compared to e.g. Peter’s TB-20, but still the Mini is the biggest thing I can easily mount.

Is it possible to connect my 128Gb MicroSD card to an ipad via some kind of adapter and still have the usb port to charge it?

There are hacks, but they’re simply not worth it. Btw, why do you need the extra memory? I fly with a 16 GB iPad Mini 3 (with a 16 GB iPhone 6 Plus as backup), and use SkyDemon (EU) and ForeFlight (US) without any problems. Actually, most of my everyday stuff is also on these devices.

Vladimir wrote:

So, Air 2 or Mini 4 would be my choice.

Don’t forget the current non-Pro iPad. Same form factor as Air 2, but slightly faster.

Hajdúszoboszló LHHO

I have a bit more space and use the 9.7 pro. I get the cellular version for the GPS but dont have a sim card in the unit. If I need data I tether to the iPhone.

EGTK Oxford

JasonC wrote:

I get the cellular version for the GPS

Good hint, first one I bought was wifi only and I was surprised that the GPS receiver is inside the sim unit, so the wifi versions don’t have it.

LSZH, LSZF, Switzerland

I use an iPad mini 4 on a RAM mount, with SIM card. I also use that SIM card slot, because i get three SIM cards with my contract

I don’t think any Ipad is any better than any other in the way the GPS performs. These consumer devices are all optimised for slow movement, with wifi assistance for the initial location. Some people find they work solid; others find they are less good. I find the Ipad2 loses fix readily in a TB20…

There is a disturbing trend in recent devices to basically disable the GPS unless wifi location assistance is enabled. My Samsung S7 does exactly that. There was a thread on it here recently. And if you configure it thus not only does it never get a GPS fix but also the wifi assistance switch gets re-enabled silently in various contexts. I cannot see any legitimate reason for doing this other than to facilitate covert harvesting of IP/MAC geo mapping; the device calls the Church of Samsung / Church of Apple many times a day anyway, and will use the opportunity to upload any data it has collected on the locations of wifi networks. Such databases are very valuable to the manufacturers. I can see a couple of people configuring their F1 key with a “<CRLF>yet another conspiracy theory<CRLF>” text

With IOS devices, AFAIK, an external SD card does not do anything other than enable copying of picture files to/from the “Camera Roll” paradigm. Apps cannot access it – unless it is rooted (jailbroken). Android supports an SD card (and many Android devices have an SD card socket) but with various restrictions. Apps can work around these but developers are mostly not interested in supporting this anyway, perhaps because an external SD card (well, the cheap sort) is much slower than internal FLASH which is why google discourages it (“poor user experience”). If you root an android phone then you can remap internal storage to the SD card in several ways including unix symlinks; I have two rooted devices but my main phone isn’t because you lose the Google Pay feature (yeah, there are ways around that, too). I used to have rooted IOS devices too but it created a lot of hassle and the value of rooting was much lower, and IIRC the current Jepp apps (except JeppTC on an Ipad) stop working on a rooted device.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

On my non-GPS iPads I use a Bad Elf plug-in GPS. I recently found by chance that I can put them on the floor of a high wing aircraft, in front of the seats, and Foreflight keeps working. I did this because I’ve been using my iPhone for primary navigation and airspace negotiation recently, with the iPad brought along only for use after arrival, and also ‘just in case’ along the way.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 14 Aug 13:59

Peter wrote:

“<CRLF>yet another conspiracy theory<CRLF>” text

DOS line endings. Savages!

Recent devices tend to have combined GPS/GLONASS receivers (certainly the iPad 3 does GLONASS). The Apple stuff will get a fix pretty quickly in airplane mode, I’ve found. My iPad 3 will get a fix even inside an airliner most of the time which is much better than the Garmin handheld I used to use.

Andreas IOM
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