Precision of Positioning Data on Smartphones

Stephan von Watzdorf, Florian Michahelles


This contribution investigates how accurate location information is on smartphones. Our research is based on a data set consisting of 2289 locations gathered from a marketed iPhone application. In a first analysis, it became evident that the accuracy information differs significantly among iPhone and iPod and iPad devices. A second analysis of the accuracy values reveals clusters of accuracy values at above 1 km, at 500 meters, and at an accuracy of below 300 meters. Information with an accuracy of above 500 meters originated from Cell-ID based positioning. Finally, an analysis revealed that the accuracy is significantly reduced for locations with more than 500 meters away from the next populated area. The overall results suggest that additional Cell-ID based positioning technology allows for higher coverage at the costs of a significantly reduced accuracy. If location information is required, with an accuracy of below 300 meters, the technology should be limited to GPS and WLAN based positioning. Adding Cell-ID based positioning increases the coverage while accuracy is reduced.


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