Nokia 6.1 GNSS experience with Snapdragon 630 chipset and Android 8.1 Oreo

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Jeffry Schmitz

Jun 20, 2018, 1:41:57 PM6/20/18
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Nokia 6.1 Phone GNSS Comments

  Just purchased a new Nokia 6.1 phone, it is also sometimes found as the Nokia 6 (2018).   Mine is the US version, model TA 1045.  The earlier, original Nokia 6 had a Snapdragon 430 processor, the 6.1 is improved with the Snapdragon 630 processor which incorporates support for most, if not all the GNSS systems including Galileo.  I had an opportunity to test out the capabilities on a trip to Europe this month and the processor does seem to support all the major systems - Navstar, Glonass, BeiDou, QZSS, Galileo, etc.  During the Europe trip Galileo SV's would show up and be used in the position solution. Two photos are attached, one shows top of screen, the other the rest with the Galileo SV's.

The Galilieo SV's show up rarely if at all in my home location of Alaska, USA.  The 6.1 seems to prefer the US  and Russia Glonass systems, at least when Alaska. I saw just one Galileo SV briefly after the return from Europe and none since.  Not too sure why, maybe the immature constellation is optimized for EU operation or the Snapdragon has enough NavStar and Glonass SV's and ignores the Galileo ones.  A bit of a puzzle!  One of the three Galileo orbital planes (B) is noticeably under populated these days, that may change with either in orbit SV's going from testing to op status or later with a July launch of 4 more SV's. 

The Nokia 6.1 seems to have a moderately capable GPS sensor, it can sometimes struggle indoors.     Putting the phone on external power and opening the GPS Test app while sitting for some time lets it get both the almanac and ephmeris data for the individual SV's.  On a long intercontinental flight over the polar regions and plugged into external power I had a chance to play with the Nokia 6.1; TTFF a half hour out of Germany was 3650 seconds! In all fairness, we were doing well over 500 mph!   Typically one NavStar SV would show up, 15 minutes or so later the second, then eventually a third.  After that the SV acquisitions speeded up considerably and would include pretty much anything in sight/view.  I had a center of cabin seat so conditions were not at all good and it would easily lose all the SV's!  For most of the 9 hour trip Galileo SV's were available and occasionally used in the nav solution.  Up to to 8 Galileo SVs were visible or acquired at one point.

Galileo utilization was one of the items I was after in a new Android based phone, another was an Android OS that would be updated.  And one that works with GPS Test!  The Nokia 6.1 is part of the Android One program which is committed to security patches, OS updates etc for two years.  Minimal to no bloatware.  It ships with Android 8 Oreo and updates OTA to 8.1 on activation.  It is an unlocked phone, at least in the US.  Many Android phones never update either the OS nor issues patches after manufacture, my Moto X was stuck forever on Android 4!.  It is not bad that the phone was well under $300 here in the US!  Bought mine from Best Buy as it came with a warranty from them.  I have no connections, interests or benefits from Nokia nor Best Buy, just after a decent phone!

Hope this helps those looking for robust GNSS capabilities in an Android phone these days!

Nokia Galileo Tracking.jpg
Nokia Screen Shot Position.jpg

Sean Barbeau

Jun 20, 2018, 8:56:27 PM6/20/18
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Thanks for sharing, that's a lot of great info!

Yes, very interesting on the Galileo acquisitions.  Hopefully at some point someone can shed some light on exactly why Galileo is used in some position solutions but not others.


P.S. I also enjoy staring at GPSTest while on flights :)

Jeffry Schmitz

Jun 23, 2018, 10:12:03 PM6/23/18
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Hi Sean,
  Happy to share.  Digging around on the web this issue seems to have some deep roots, the Sony Experia users were discussing aspects of it in the 2009 time frame.  Here are some nuggets I have dug up and they seem to make some sense in two ways - CONUS/Alaska Galileo and BeiDu utilization.  Looking at the screen shot I had from Europe I noticed that both Galileo and BeiDu SV's were known, tracking and some being utilized in the nav solution.  Back here in Alaska neither Galileo nor BeiDu show up in any state.  One site I found seems to have as good an explanation as any, the basic one being the US (apparently) has regulatory barriers to foreign GNSS systems.  Seems like crazy talk, especially today but it does seem to fit the reality.  Not apparently that the regs are insurmountable but Glonass appears to be the sole exception. It may be that Glonass preceded the regulation, may be that Russia went through the hoops to get licensed.  If it is regulatory it seems nuts to me!  Here are links to what I've dug up so far.

The link above leads to:

Some of the Sony discussions are here:

I'll do some digging around on the US FCC website and see if anything shows up.....

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