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Saturday, October 17, 2009
iPhonetunes review: Ndrive VS Navigon
iPhonetunes review: Ndrive VS Navigon

I have reviewed the new iPhone GPS application Ndrive, and on request compared it with Navigon Mobile Navigator. Portuguese based company NDrive Navigation System is conquering the world (it is historically in their blood I guess), there is not one GPS app that is present in so many countries. They released already 31 Editions and will release an edition for every country where the iPhone is sold.

They have a clear strategy, conquer the app store by entering at a low price and [update 1] lifetime free map updates, Ndrive provided this info about the map updates of their product: Users receive a lifetime license to the latest maps. It means that the license applies to the latest version of the maps (IE, Tele Atlas Summer 2009, for life - as opposed to older maps or limited license life), but not to updates.

I have used the app all the time since it has been released and have contact with the company which provided with me extra information and good support. Navigon is one of the most popular apps at the moment and let’s see if this more expensive price tag can justify itself against newcomer Ndrive.

Ndrive version 1.0 9.2.30(879) DI has been tested with Navigon Mobile Navigator 1.2.0

1. Display dimensions and size

• Ndrive: Map real estate: 225 px height and 480 px width, map can be displayed in portrait or landscape. Installation size is 160 MB.

• Navigon: Map real estate: 225 px height and 480 px width, map can be displayed in portrait or landscape. Installation size is 284 MB.

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Winner: Draw

2. Street name display

• Ndrive displays the street names always in a horizontal way. The font color is black with a little white border around it so it is always readable. It points to the actual street with a little kind of arrow.

• Navigon is putting the street names across the streets also, even when they are diagonal displayed. They are grey and small which makes it quite difficult to read from time to time, but you can switch it off, then it only shows the street you are driving in.

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Note the difficult readable grey street names with Navigon (image right), and the white border around the streetname in Ndrive.

Winner: Ndrive for much better readability.

3. Map zoom (Driving and stand alone)

• Ndrive has quite some options to zoom. You can use the 2 finger-pinch method while navigating and also when the route is displayed in the beginning. More over you can rotate with the 2 finger-method. There is also an option in the menu called “map control buttons” which adds a plus and minus in the top corners and 2 rotate buttons, all these buttons are transparent overlays.

• Navigon also needs pinch with two fingers to zoom in and out, like with regular photos / images on the iPhone. When you select: show map, it works like this, also when you plan an advanced route it shows a preview which can be zoomed. While driving, tapping the main screen goes to 2D view which also can be zoomed.

Winner: Ndrive, it has also button overlays for zoom.

4. Navigate to

• Ndrive supports the following Destinations; Address, Home, Recent Location, Favorite, POI, Nearby POI, Coordinates, Postcode, Itenary.

• Navigon opens the screen with the options, Enter an Address, Search POI, Take me Home, Show Map (where you can point a destination). Favorites, Recent and Contacts are in the bottom menu. Zip Code is not listed default but when entering your city, just type the zip code and then the street.

Winner: Draw Ndrive has an option for Coordinates, Navigon has address book integration.

5. 2D map

• Ndrive only shows the map in 2D when it has calculated the route and presents it. While navigating, it is not possible to switch to 2D.

• Navigon is showing you the 2D map as soon as you tap the screen while navigating in 3D mode and is instantly zoom-able and movable.

Winner: Navigon, I used it a lot while driving slowly in traffic jam (do not do this), to see alternate routes on the map.

6. 3D map

• Ndrive uses 3D view while navigating, it has an option in the menu where you can switch on/off 3D landmarks. iGO My way has the same feature. The view is in between 2D and 3D, you do not see an horizon. In this regards it looks a lot like iGO My way.

• Navigon supports 3D view and does it very good. A nice 3D view where you see the horizon and sky, which gives a superb sensation while driving. Also the map detail showed is very good. It updates the display very fluent.

Winner: Navigon, it has a constant 3D view with nicer map details. [If you like auto-zoom give the points to Ndrive here.]

7. Night view

• Ndrive switches automatically to night view. This setting can be turned off in the settings menu. The theme can be changed but the other themes are day themes.

• Navigon also switches by itself, since version 1.2.0.

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Note the pleasant view of Navigon (right image)

Winner: Navigon, It still looks like a map, and is more pleasant for the eyes.

8. Voice and sound

• Ndrive has these languages; Italian, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Dutch and English. When you change them, the menus changes also in this language as well as the voice.

When you are in navigation mode you can slide with your finger over the lower part of your screen to change the volume, which is nice.

• Navigon has a slider in the preferences menu to select the volume of the voice. The software selects automatically the language of how your iPhone is configured. This is sometimes annoying for people who prefer the iPhone language to be in English and but want the GPS voice in their native language. In total 19 languages are supported. Check to see if your language is in the list: Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish.

Navigon has added Text To Speech in version 1.2.0, which reads out the street names.

Winner: Navigon, it supports 19 versus 7 languages and has TTS.

09. Speed control

• Ndrive has the menu option to set the Speed Limit Alarm from 50 km/h to 160 km/h. The Road Speed Alert can be warned visually and with sound, this is the maximum speed that each road has. When it is triggered you here the sound of the cops smile. The maximum speed is indicated in the bottom of the screen next to your current speed, it changes color when exceeding the limit. Basically like TomTom does it.

• Navigon can set the threshold in steps of 5 km/h from 5 to 35 km/h, or disable. This in Build-Up areas and outside Build-Up areas, with acoustic warnings. The current speed is constantly shown in the top center of the screen which is good readable.

Winner: Navigon, I like the real speed sign visual better.

10. Safety cameras

• Ndrive has the option to switch on/off the Safety Camera Alert. The feature can be switched off. It claims to have a big database, but the cameras in my street are not in, although all the other GPS apps know them.

• Navigon gives the choice to enable them and even un-install them, this probably for legal reasons in some countries. It tells you “Watch your speed” when you approaches a camera, it makes an animated red growing circle around the 3D pole, plus in the Max Speed Sign on the right side of the screen it adds a red camera icon.

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Navigon shows an animated red circle around the flash pole, and a camera in the speed sign on the right of the display. Ndrive did not show me any safety cams in Brussels, although I have it set to “on” in the Display POI menu, must be something wrong with the implimentation.

Winner: Navigon you can uninstall it, and is displayed in 3D.

11. Planning prefs

• Ndrive you can set to: Fastest, Shortest and Adventure Mode. Tolls Yes/Avoid.

• Navigon has Speed profile: Motorbike, Lorry, Bicycle and Pedestrian. Type of route: Fast, Optimum, Short and Scenic. Allow/Avoid/Forbid: Motorways, Toll roads and Ferries. Resident only streets forbid or allow.

Here is the meaning I found in another Navigon user manual;
Motorcycle: Bendy routes are preferred.
Truck: Avoid through streets as much as possible.
Bicycle: One-way streets are often inapplicable to cyclists.
Pedestrian: Traffic regulations that apply only to vehicles are not taken into consideration.

Winner: Navigon has more profiles and route types.

12. Sign Posts

• Ndrive does not show Sign Post, it only shows the next exit.

• Navigon shows by default the Real Sign Posts and they are big and very clear on the top of the screen (see image below right).

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Note Ndrive only gives the road number (image left), while Navigon displays it very realistic (image right).

Winner: Navigon, it shows the Sign Posts realistic.

13. Lane assistant

• Ndrive does not have lane assistance, it only shows the next exit.

• Navigon has this enabled by default and it shows on the right bottom corner of the screen with a clear graphic and an arrow for the preferred lane, also when there is a Sign Post at the same time it is in full screen (see image above right). It uses Reality View Pro technology from ZENREIN EUROPE Gmbg, Reality View Pro displays important traffic points in photo quality (motorway interchanges and exits).

Winner: Navigon, same comment as for Sign Posts.

14. POI

• Ndrive does it this way. Select Navigate > POI or Nearby POI, in City, Near Home, Along Route, Near Destination. Also a special menu is added “Call POI”. This can also be done with the first method.

The following Main Categories are in there;

Restaurants, Where to sleep, Transportation, Sports, Health, Education, Tourism, Culture, Security, Utilities, Shopping, Nightlife, Visit and Local Offices.

Restaurants are split-up by some big kitchens, like Italian, Chinese and Fastfood.

These POI can be switched on and off per category.

Double tapping the POI gives all the info, with options to email, call or navigate to.

• Navigon gives you on the home screen: Search POI, with the following options: In a city, Nationwide and Nearby. With the following categories: ATM, Automotive Dealers and services, Bank, Business Facility, Car rental, Government Office, Petrol station, Parking, Post Office, Restaurant, Shopping, Tourist / Nature.

NOTE: it is possible to also to show a POI along your route (with map and all), you must be in the navigation mode and select options.

They also have a lot of sub categories. In total there are 2 million POIs. By default these are all enabled and can be filtered out in the options menu. You can call them after selecting the phone number. There is a feature called Direct Access for 3 POIs in options. You can also add a POI or add one to your favorites.

The nice thing is that it splits up restaurants in type of kitchen, it also shows gas stations with the logos of Shell and Esso and so on. The same for shops.

Winner: Navigon, Navigon uses real logos which is brilliant, also the restaurant has more kitchens and is favorite for me.

15. Itinerary

• Ndrive supports Itinerary in a way a bit like Sygic does. To Create a new Itinerary do this: Menu > My NDrive > Manage My Iteneraries. You can create groups here and add waypoints. You can even add icons to these groups.

When you are in map mode you can also add itineraries. You will also be presented with quite some editing options to manage this subject.

• Navigon calls this Route. You can create a new Route, Last Route or Load Route, after which you have to select Route Points, via Enter an Address, Search for POI, Favorites and Recent destinations. It is not possible to point the map here unfortunately.

You can do this but difficult, first select Show Map > Point a place on the map > Set Destination > click blue arrow > More > Save As Favorite. Do this for all the points you want and now you can add them like described in the beginning.

You can delete Route Points like you delete emails. And finally press “Calculate the Route” to see it. Now you get the options to see the details (distance and time intervals) with the totals, change the route profile,  save the Route and Simulation which is just a demo of this route.

Winner: Ndrive, has more editing options here.

16. GPS Signal

• Ndrive locks very fast the GPS signal on my iPhone 3G S, I have the iPhone in the same location where I conduct all the tests with and at the end of my street (50 meters) I have already a fix. There is an indicator on the main screen with bars showing the signal strength.

• Navigon locks the GPS quite fast on my iPhone 3G S. The title bar shows red when the satellites are not found yet.


Winner: Ndrive, just a bit faster.

17. iPod

• Ndrive stops the iPod music when it speaks. The same behavior like TomTom. Some people really like this, but I personally prefer the muting of the sound.

• Navigon Does this very cool, it mutes the music while talking.
Navigon has incorporated iPod control in version 1.2.0, which is very neat done.

Winner: Navigon

18. Others

• NDrive some more features not mentioned yet.

Communities, where you can connect and give or retrieve other favourite GPS location databases.

The compass mode in the adventure mode can be attractive for outdoor activities.

You can also record your route and manage your recorded tracks later. Ndrive provides various rerouting options to get a different route as well as avoiding blocked routes.

There is a traffic menu item, which does not work in the Benelux edition (yet), this was confirmed by a Ndrive representative.

• Navigon gives the option to change the bottom menu, change from miles to KM, save your GPS position, show GPS info, delete recent info and add or delete favorites. It can make a simulation of the selected route, which is what it proposed by default if no GPS signal is received yet.

After an incoming phone call navigation is resumed. Navigation is not resumed after quitting and restarting the app.

You can block the next 500 meters of your route. Navigon has also Location sharing in their latest release version 1.2.0.

Winner: Ndrive Ndrive has compass and recording capabilities

19. Price

• Ndrive: 29,99 Euro for the Benelux edition

• Navigon: 69,99 Euro for the Benelux edition.

Winner: Ndrive, more than half the price.

And the winner is…

Navigon is winning this review with 11 points out of 19, while Ndrive has 6 points out of 19. There are 2 draws.

Which one should you buy then?

Very good points for Navigon are, the visually cool iPod integration. The visual help like lane assistance and Sign Post have set a new standard. Also safety cams are better implemented as far as I could test it. I also like the 3D display better from Navigon. POI favors for me too, more fine grained kitchens for example.

The strongest argument to choose for Ndrive is it’s low price. You will get a decent GPS app for this money and you are [update 1]guaranteed lifetime map updates Users receive a lifetime license to the latest maps. It means that the license applies to the latest version of the maps (IE, Tele Atlas Summer 2009, for life - as opposed to older maps or limited license life), but not to updates…

The 3D landmarks are nice implemented. The itinerary has a lot of options, and the communities can be seen a nice bonus. Also the recording of your route is a winning point for this applications, some people still use other outdoor GPS app only because of this feature.

The interface is good designed and works good, also the gestures integration is a plus for this app.

What could be better in this app in the future versions? The pedestrian mode could update faster. When in driving mode the arrow is a bit behind your current location, so when you have passed a side street the arrow shows that you are still passing it. TomTom has the same.

One time it stuck on route recalculation, because of poor GPS reception. I could also not receive phone calls while Navigating.

iPhone apps

The version info is already 2 times not correct. According to iTunes this is version 1.1, but the interface shows version 1.0. This should be fixed to give the customer more confidence.



3 point 5 stars instead of 4 stars until the safety cams and version info is fixed.

iPhonetunes -

Note: The software was purchased by

PS I updated the routing compare article with Ndrive routes.


Change log:

Initial version.

Oct 19, 2009 - [update 1] Changed information about the license provided by NDrive Navigation Systems, S.A.


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