Nokia Drive review

Simple, slick and free with offline maps, but guidance and routing is average


One of the (current) bonuses of choosing a Nokia Lumia handset is the inclusion of Nokia Drive. The question is, is it a big enough bonus to swing your next smartphone purchase?

If free satnav is all you’re after, things are looking good, because it has free offline maps. In fact, you can download Navteq mapping of the entire world, country by country, for absolutely nothing. And it's simplicity itself to do so. To download a map, visit the app’s Manage Maps menu option, tap the Plus button, and navigate to the country you want to add.

Nokia Drive on Lumia 800

Usefully, larger countries such as France (a 457MB download) are broken down into regions, so if you’re running short on space you can tailor the maps. If that sounds amazing, there is a problem: the default destination search is online; but if you don't have a connection you're forced to use offline search, which is patchy by comparison. We found several addresses not in the offline index that appeared when we searched online.

Aside from this, Nokia Drive’s interface is clean and simple. It doesn’t have all the options of most paid-for satnav apps, with no multipoint routing and no traffic, lane guidance or speed camera warnings.

In this case, however, that leads to an app that’s fantastically easy to use. To enter your destination, tap the address or POI into the single search field, select it from the list, and you’re ready to go.

By and large, we found the search competent, although it was stumped by Stapleford Airfield along our standard test route. With no facility to navigate to a point on the map, we were unable to get it to guide us on that particular section of our test route. And once out on the road, we discovered a series of other foibles.

Nokia Drive on Lumia 800

On the first leg, a strange route choice had us driving around a major roundabout to get back to a point we’d already driven past, and the turn icons representing roundabouts were often misleading. The exit arrow always points to the left for the first exit, even if the first exit of a roundabout happens to be straight on.

On the positive side, we found the voice instructions clear, and they were timed to perfection; they were never delivered too early, and it didn't leave us waiting on instructions either.

But this isn’t enough to overcome Nokia Drive’s weaknesses. As a free extra it’s worth having, but it isn’t as good as CoPilot, TomTom or Navigon.


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