Which iPad Models Have Built-In GPS?

And which ones don't

Blue City map navigation design

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The iPad can be used for mapping, navigation, and other location-aware apps, but you need the right model to take full advantage of its GPS features. Not all models have built-in GPS. We'll explain.

Which iPad Models Have Built-In GPS?

A built-in GPS chip is usually found in Apple's "WiFi+Cellular" iPad models. These devices cost more than the standard "WiFi-only" versions.

Apple has never explicitly said why it doesn't include a GPS chip in the WiFi-only models. It might be because many apps that use GPS for navigation and other duties need to draw on data from the internet, even when they're out of range of a WiFi signal. This means the GPS apps are effectively "broken" when out of WiFi range.

You don't need to pay for a data plan for the GPS chip to work. But, if you get a WiFi+Cellular model with no data plan, you can't receive fresh maps, points of interest, and other related data when out of WiFi range.

WiFi-Only iPads Can Still Track Your Location, Though

Confusing the issue somewhat is the fact a WiFi-only iPad can fairly accurately pinpoint your location under many conditions. As long as it can pick up even a few Wi-Fi signals, it can use Wi-Fi positioning, which draws on a database of known WiFi hotspots, to determine where you are.

Best Built-in and Downloadable Apps for GPS and Navigation

The iPad comes with a Maps app that lets you search for addresses, points of interest, and much more. After finding a location, you can get turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic information, as well.

A number of other key apps included with the iPad make good use of GPS and location capability. iPhoto, for example, automatically geotags your photos and videos (you can turn off this feature) to help you organize and find photos by location. The Reminders app lets you geofence and set reminders by location.

TeleNav, MotionX, TomTom, and Waze all offer high-quality turn-by-turn navigation apps for iPad. With its large, high-resolution Retina display, the iPad is also popular with pilots and boaters. Pilots use apps for charts, weather, and airport information. Sailors can tap into a wealth of charting and navigation apps.

Travelers will appreciate apps such as Flight Track, a live flight status tracker, the Tripit Travel Organizer, Kayak, and Yelp for restaurant and other reviews. Outdoors people will enjoy apps such as Backpacker's Map Maker, which is a joy to use on the iPad's touchscreen.