By November 20, 2009

NDrive SatNav for iPhone review

The iPhone now has a slew of true navigation products, all offering 3d turn-by-turn directions to compliment the built in maps tool. The big names have all launched iPhone version of their products, but these have been joined by products from lesser known companies.


In many way the lesser know apps have actually been the most surprising, because in some cases they far surpass the bigger boy’s efforts.

NDRIVE helpfully supplied us with a promo copy of their efforts, which I installed on a 16gb iPhone 3GS, which has plenty of other apps on it already. It should be a fairly average device in that respect.

On first launch, NDRIVE completes an initial setup of its database – and restart kicks you into the app itself.


In terms of immediate look and feel, it’s the closest Tomtom ‘clone’ I’ve used. I realise that may not go down well with NDrive, but for me personally that’s a very good thing – Tomtom style, with a lower prices and many more features.

The main navigation screen is split into 2 distinct areas. The bottom quarter shows speed and route information, while the remainder shows a 2d/3d map view. The map area contains 5 translucent buttons, allowing the user to zoom in and out, as well as adjusting the view from a top-down 2d setup through to a more standard 3d view. The fifth button accesses the GPS data page with long/lat information and signal quality.

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Usability is very good – touching bottom left acts as a quick link to the settings area – which includes route settings as well as more global app settings. The bottom right ‘Menu’ button launches the main menu, and touching anywhere on the map drops a pin, which can then be added as a destination or waypoint. You can also use multi-touch to rotate the map, or dragging to roam around the entire map.

The main menu system is simple and straightforward, with big chunky buttons which make it easy to press on the move. The bottom bar houses 2 buttons – on the left a back button to move up the menu structure, and on the right the map button closes the menu completely.

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The menu itself is split into 2 pages, with sub menus for additional navigational options. A neat feature with NDrive is the Record GPS option – to allow GPS tracking and recording for display, for example, in Google Earth. ‘Find’ allows the user to search the map data without navigating to the chosen location. The map is then centred at this point. Navigate is your standard affair, with sub-options to navigate to address, home, recent location, favourite, POI, nearby POI, Coordinates or Postcode. As you can see – plenty of options. There’s also the option to create an itinerary.

Navigation is fast, though before a mid-review update was issued, it did lock up a couple of times here. Routing seems capable enough, although lacks nice extras such as Tomtom’s IQ routes. I was never unhappy with any routes it selected though, as IQ routes is as good as it is bad sometimes anyway.

During navigation the screen is extremely clear and easy to follow. If I’m being picky, I’d say I’d have liked a little more screen space dedicated to the map area, rather than the route information bar at the bottom. Landscape mode also suffers from overcrowding – but the map itself, and the highlighted route is clear and easy to follow. All the map commands for zooming in and out and changing the angle (2d/3d) are all available while in navigation. A neat touch is the ability to ‘tap’ any POI’s that appear on the map in order to get more information about them. You can then double tap a phone number if available, and have your iPhone go away and call it.

The menu has additional options while navigation is active – with a forced alternative route button with then splits into the usual options such as avoiding a roadblock, or avoiding a particular area of the route.

Finally the ‘My nDrive’ connects your NDrive SatNav system with the rest of the world, allowing you to check out reviews of nearby POIs and upload your own.



I’ve played around with many iPhone sat nav systems, and despite lacking features Tomtom was my personal favourite. However nDrive have managed to go with a similar look and feel, but add an array of additional features. That, coupled with the fact its less than half the price means nDrive is an exceptionally good SatNav application.

You may wish to also take a look at NDrive London. I was unable to test this application – since I’m around 250 miles from the capital(!) – but I’m lead to believe its SatNav with aerial mapping. That alone makes it rather exciting!


Review by: Mark

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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