How does the GPS work? How does the GPS work?

How does the GPS work?

How does the GPS work?

GPS (The Global Positioning System) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location by using signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. Your device receives signals from multiple satellites, calculates the travel time, and uses this data to determine your precise location.

All our recent models use GNSS to determine the position, which combines GPS with other satellite networks for improved coverage and more accurate positioning.

The location of Xplora watches can be determined through three different sources: GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile network triangulation.

Outdoors, GPS provides the highest level of accuracy, with a precision of 25 - 75 meters. However, GPS signal is generally not available indoors.

In cases where GPS reception is unavailable, the watch uses Wi-Fi to determine the watch's position, though with a slightly higher precision radius than GPS. The accuracy of WLAN network positioning is expected to improve over time as more Wi-Fi networks are recorded in the database used for location determination.

In rare instances where neither GPS nor Wi-Fi is available (which is becoming less common nowadays), the watch resorts to using the position of mobile antennas to triangulate its location. This method is the least accurate and is only employed in very rare situations when both GPS and Wi-Fi are unavailable.

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How can I update my watch’s location?

You can use one of the following methods to update the location of your child's watch:

  • Refresh the location in the Xplora App with the ↻ button
  • Activate live tracking in the Xplora App
  • Allow the watch to update the location automatically every few minutes

As soon as one of these scenarios is triggered, specific processes are initiated on the watch:

  • The watch starts scanning for GPS
  • The watch starts scanning for WiFi

Within seconds, the watch should report a fixed GPS location and/or find some WiFi networks nearby. All this data is then collected and sent, along with the cell tower data, to the server. Our servers process this data to provide the most accurate position possible, which is then sent to the Xplora App.

Which factors can impact the availability or accuracy of the location?

The precision of the location is influenced by both the SIM-card provider and the geographical context of the area where the watch is going to be used. In general, the more extensive coverage a provider offers, the higher the accuracy of the location.

Check our compatible providers here

The location accuracy of the watch is not good or the location is not available at all

Xplora watches are smartwatches with a GPS feature, but they are not considered tracking devices. As much as we would like to, there may be instances where the location is not always available or entirely accurate.

There might be several scenarios when the watch’s location might not be accurate:

1. When the watch is being used indoors or underground, GPS may be less accurate or unavailable. For a more precise GPS position, go outdoors and try updating the location once again.

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2. The GPS signal is weak and can be easily blocked by walls, trees, mountains, etc. Take the watch to an area with a clear line of sight to the sky and try updating the position from different spots.

3. The watch uses the location of nearby Wi-Fi networks to determine its location; however, it's important to note that not every Wi-Fi network has a known and accurate location. Unfortunately, there isn't much to do about it. The watch will use nearby Wi-Fi networks to improve its position when available.

4. Different position sources (GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile network triangulation) have different accuracy levels. While GPS and Wi-Fi sources generally provide high accuracy, in their absence the watch resorts to mobile antennas for triangulation, with an accuracy of up to a few thousand meters. This method, while the least accurate, is employed only in the very rare event of neither GPS nor Wi-Fi being available.

5. If the location updates are inconsistent, it may be due to using a non-compatible provider. Check our article on recommended providers for Xplora watches.

6. If the watch doesn’t have GPS coverage or any nearby WiFi points, then there is no location to show, and therefore no location history. Try updating the location from several spots in an outdoor area with good coverage. Restarting the device a couple of times can also help the watch connect to the network and update its location.

Is it possible to extend the duration of the live tracking option?

The GPS scan consumes significant battery power, limiting its extended usage. As a result, automatic location updates from the watch occur every few minutes, and live tracking is limited to a set period of time.

Is it possible to turn off location updates to extend battery life?

It is currently not possible to turn off GPS tracking updates. The watch automatically updates its position each time it connects to a new communication cell or when more than 300 steps are taken.

My smartphone has excellent coverage, while my watch can't reach the network

Like all smartwatches, Xplora watches have smaller antennas than regular smartphones due to their compact size. They might also use a different set of frequencies than the one your smartphone connects to. 

Additionally, they are meant to be carried on the body, and their design has stricter requirements for electromagnetic radiation. Therefore, it's possible that a smartphone receives sufficient signal while the watch doesn't. 

Before purchasing a new plan, you can test the SIM-cards you are already using in different devices to check the signal strength and decide whether the provider offers sufficient coverage in your region.

Once you take the watch to an area where it receives sufficient coverage, use the ↻ button available on the app to update the location manually. This will prompt the watch to search for the network and trigger a location update.

The app displays a distant point as my watch's location

You may notice your watch's location jumping to a distant point outside the common area where it's being used. This happens when the watch determines its position based on the location of WiFi spots in your neighborhood, and one of the routers has been physically relocated, while the information about its location hasn't been updated. As a result, the map displays a sudden jump.

Refreshing the location manually with the ↻ button tends to yield better results compared to automatic location updates.

If you notice a consistent incorrect location, you can easily address this by readjusting the location on your app

Important: The correction needs to be done several times, each time the app reports the incorrect position, so that the position can be corrected accordingly.


If you are unsure how to obtain an accurate position with your watch, feel free to reach out to us through our contact form. We will be happy to assist you!