What is GLONASS?: Complete List of Smartphones with GLONASS Support

List of Smartphones using GLONASS Navigation:

This is a list of smartphones who support GLONASS navigation as of January 2013.


Alcatel OT-995



Apple iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 5




HTC One X+



HTC Windows Phone 8S

HTC Windows Phone 8X



Huawei Ascend D1 Quad XL

Huawei Honor 2



LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G AT&T

LG Optimus Sol

LG Electronics Optimus Sol E730

LG Nexus 4 E960



Meizu mx 2



Motorola RAZR

Motorola RAZR HD

Motorola RAZR M

Motorola RAZR MAXX

Motorola DROID 4








Nokia Lumia 620

Nokia Lumia 820

Nokia Lumia 822

Nokia Lumia 920



Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

Samsung Ativ S

Samsung Galaxy Chat

Samsung Galaxy Grand

Samsung Galaxy Music

Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung Galaxy Pocket

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini

Samsung Omnia W

Samsung S8600 Wave III

Samsung Focus


Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson Xperia active Billabong Edition

Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S

Sony Ericsson Xperia pro

Sony Ericsson Xperia ray

Sony Ericsson Xperia active

Sony Ericsson Xperia neo

Sony Xperia neo L

Sony Xperia acro S

Sony Xperia ion

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman

Sony Xperia S

Sony Xperia T

Sony Xperia V

Sony Xperia Z



Xiaomi Mi-Two


The Samsung Galaxy Note was the first to use GLONASS technology, but now the Sony Xperia S is set to have GLONASS support too.

The Russian equivalent to the United States GPS, GLONASS works in pretty much the same way, the difference being that to you as a smartphone user, you are now likely to get an even more accurate GPS reception, in fact as accurate as 2 metres.

Why would you want a smartphone with GLONASS capability?

It is explained fantastically in a video from Qualcomm, the manufacturers of the processor in the new Xperia Z from Sony.

Watch this video: GPS and GLONASS: “Dual-core” location for your phone


What is Global Positioning System (GPS)?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. The system provides critical capabilities to military, civil and commercial users around the world. It is maintained by the United States government and is freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.

The GPS project was developed in 1973 to overcome the limitations of previous navigation systems, integrating ideas from several predecessors, including a number of classified engineering design studies from the 1960s. GPS was created and realized by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and was originally run with 24 satellites. It became fully operational in 1994. Roger L. Easton is generally credited as its inventor.

Advances in technology and new demands on the existing system have now led to efforts to modernize the GPS system and implement the next generation of GPS III satellites and Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX). Announcements from the Vice President and the White House in 1998 initiated these changes. In 2000, U.S. Congress authorized the modernization effort, referred to as GPS III.

In addition to GPS, other systems are in use or under development. The Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) was developed contemporaneously with GPS, but suffered from incomplete coverage of the globe until the mid-2000s. There are also the planned European Union Galileo positioning system, Chinese Compass navigation system, and Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System.

Watch this video: How GPS works? The GPS network and how gravity affects time and space. The military operations needed behind the system to keep it in check.


What is GLONASS?

GLONASS (Russian: ГЛОНАСС; IPA: [ɡlɐˈnas] – Глобальная Навигационная Спутниковая Система), acronym for Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema or Global Navigation Satellite System, is a radio-based satellite navigation system operated for the Russian government by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. It both complements and provides an alternative to the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS) and is the only alternative navigational system in operation with global coverage and of comparable precision.

Development of GLONASS began in the Soviet Union in 1976. Beginning on 12 October 1982, numerous rocket launches added satellites to the system until the “constellation” was completed in 1995. During the 2000s, under Vladimir Putin’s presidency, the restoration of the system was made a top government priority and funding was substantially increased. GLONASS is the most expensive program of the Russian Federal Space Agency, consuming a third of its budget in 2010.

By 2010, GLONASS had achieved 100% coverage of Russia’s territory and in October 2011, the full orbital constellation of 24 satellites was restored, enabling full global coverage. The GLONASS satellites’ designs have undergone several upgrades, with the latest version being GLONASS-K.


Who built it?

The Soviet Union began development of GLONASS in 1976. In 1982, the Soviet government began deploying the first of 24 satellites that would make up the GLONASS “constellation.” (GPS also uses 24 satellites.) After the collapse of Russia’s economy, GLONASS development was put on hold, until Russian President Vladimir Putin revived the project in 2001. Following a number of subsequent setbacks, the full satellite constellation was finally restored on October 2 of this year.


Who can use GLONASS?

As was the case with GPS, GLONASS was originally only accessible by the military. The system was made available for public and commercial use in 2007. GPS has been available for civilian use since 1980.


How much did it cost to build GLONASS?

Between 2001 and 2011, the Russian government spent a total of 140.1 billion rubles (or about $4.7 billion) on the GLONASS project, making it the most expensive program ever undertaken by the Russian Federal Space Agency.


Is their a benefit to GLONASS over GPS?

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. While GPS is generally considered the better option on most parts of the globe, GLONASS is believed to have superior accuracy in the northern latitudes of the planet, as the system was developed to provide the best service to Russia, which extends to the highest latitudes.


Why did Apple include support for GLONASS in the iPhone 4S?

At this point, that information is not public – but, of course, some theories do exist. One is that Apple included GLONASS support in order to appease Russia’s government, which has reportedly threatened to ban the import of any phone that does not support GLONASS. Another is that Apple simply wanted to improve the location functionality of the iPhone 4S, but it is currently unclear whether it would actually do so.


Are there any other global navigation systems I should know about?

Yes. The European Union is currently building a similar system, known as Galileo, which is expected to be complete around 2014. And China is currently deveoping the Compass navigation system, which will use a constellation comprising of 35 satellites instead of 24. Each system will provide its region with an independently operated navigation system, which is particularly useful in times of war.


GLONASS System description

GLONASS is a global satellite navigation system, providing real time position and velocity determination for military and civilian users. The satellites are located in middle circular orbit at 19,100 km altitude with a 64.8 degree inclination and a period of 11 hours and 15 minutes. GLONASS’ orbit makes it especially suited for usage in high latitudes (north or south), where getting a GPS signal can be problematic. The constellation operates in three orbital planes, with 8 evenly spaced satellites on each. A fully operational constellation with global coverage consists of 24 satellites, while 18 satellites are necessary for covering the territory of Russia. To get a position fix, the receiver must be in the range of at least four satellites, three of which will be used to determine the user’s location and the fourth to synchronise clocks of the receiver and the three other spacecraft.



A Russian military rugged, combined GLONASS/GPS receiver GLONASS satellites transmit two types of signal: a standard precision (SP) signal and an obfuscated high precision (HP) signal.

The signals use similar DSSS encoding and binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) modulation as in GPS signals. All GLONASS satellites transmit the same code as their SP signal; however each transmits on a different frequency using a 15-channel frequency division multiple access (FDMA) technique spanning either side from 1602.0 MHz, known as the L1 band. The center frequency is 1602 MHz + n × 0.5625 MHz, where n is a satellite’s frequency channel number (n=−7,−6,−5,…0,…,6, previously n=0,…,13). Signals are transmitted in a 38° cone, using right-hand circular polarization, at an EIRP between 25 to 27 dBW (316 to 500 watts). Note that the 24-satellite constellation is accommodated with only 15 channels by using identical frequency channels to support antipodal (opposite side of planet in orbit) satellite pairs, as these satellites will never be in view of an earth-based user at the same time.

The HP signal (L2) is broadcast in phase quadrature with the SP signal, effectively sharing the same carrier wave as the SP signal, but with a ten-times-higher bandwidth than the SP signal.

The L2 signals use the same FDMA as the L1 band signals, but transmit straddling 1246 MHz with the center frequency determined by the equation 1246 MHz + n×0.4375 MHz, where n spans the same range as for L1. Other details of the HP signal have not been disclosed.


A combined GLONASS/GPS Personal Radio Beacon

At peak efficiency, the SP signal offers horizontal positioning accuracy within 5–10 meters, vertical positioning within 15 meters, a velocity vector measuring within 10 cm/s, and timing within 200 ns, all based on measurements from four first-generation satellites simultaneously; newer satellites such as GLONASS-M improve on this. The more accurate HP signal is available for authorized users, such as the Russian Military, yet unlike the US P(Y) code which is modulated by an encrypting W code, the GLONASS P codes are broadcast in the clear using only ‘security through obscurity’. Use of this signal bears risk however as the modulation (and therefore the tracking strategy) of the data bits on the L2P code has recently changed from unmodulated to 250 bit/s burst at random intervals. The GLONASS L1P code is modulated at 50 bit/s without a manchester meander code, and while it carries the same orbital elements as the CA code, it allocates more bits to critical Luni-Solar acceleration parameters and clock correction terms.

An additional civil reference signal is broadcast in the L2 band with an identical SP code to the L1 band signal. This is available from all satellites in the constellation, except satellite number 795 which is the last of the inferior original GLONASS design, and one partially inoperable GLONASS-M satellite which is broadcasting only in the L1 band. (See www.glonass-ianc.rsa.ru for daily updates on constellation status.)

GLONASS uses a coordinate datum named “PZ-90″ (Earth Parameters 1990 – Parametry Zemli 1990), in which the precise location of the North Pole is given as an average of its position from 1900 to 1905. This is in contrast to the GPS’s coordinate datum, WGS 84, which uses the location of the North Pole in 1984. As of September 17, 2007 the PZ-90 datum has been updated to differ from WGS 84 by less than 40 cm (16 in) in any given direction.

CDMA signals

Since 2008, new CDMA signals are being researched for use with GLONASS.

The latest Glonass-K1 satellites launched in 2011–2012 will introduce an additional open CDMA signal for testing purposes, located in the L3 band at 1202.025 MHz. Glonass-K2 satellites, to be launched in 2013–2015, will relocate the L3 signal to 1207.14 MHz and add an additional open CDMA signal located at 1575.42 MHz in the L1 band; subsequent Glonass-KM satellites to be launched after 2015 will feature additional open CDMA signals – one on existing L1 frequency, one at 1242 MHz in the L2 band, and one at 1176.45 MHz in the L5 band. Glonass-KM broadcast obfuscated CDMA signals in existing L1 and L2 bands.

Although the format and modulation of GLONASS CDMA signals are not finalized, preliminary statements from developers indicate that the new signals are essentially GPS/Galileo/COMPASS format signals placed at the same frequencies. The open signal in the L1 band will use BOC(1,1) modulation centered at 1575.42 MHz, similarly to corresponding modernized GPS signals in L1 band and Galileo/COMPASS signal E1. The open signal in the L5 band will use BOC(4,4) modulation centered at 1176.45 MHz, the same as the GPS “Safety of Life” (L5) and Galileo signal E5a; the open signal in the L3 band will use QPSK(10) modulation centered at 1207.14 MHz, the same frequency as Galileo/COMPASS signal E5b, and will contain information and pilot components. Such an arrangement will allow easier and cheaper implementation of multi-standard GNSS receivers.

Binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) is used by standard GPS and GLONASS signals, however both BPSK and quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK) can be considered as variations of quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), specifically QAM-2 and QAM-4. Binary offset carrier (BOC) is the modulation used by Galileo, modernized GPS, and COMPASS.

With the introduction of CDMA signals, the constellation will be expanded to 30 active satellites by 2025; this may require eventual deprecation of FDMA signals. The new satellites will be deployed into three additional planes, bringing the total to six planes from the current three, aided by System for Differential Correction and Monitoring (SDCM) which uses augmentation satellites such as Luch-5A launched in December 2011 and a network of ground-based control stations. Additional SDCM satellites may use Molniya orbit or Tundra orbit for increased regional availability, similar to Japanese QZSS system.


Third generation


GLONASS-K is a substantial improvement of the previous generation: it is the first unpressurised GLONASS satellite with a much reduced mass (750 kg versus 1,450 kg of GLONASS-M). It has an operational lifetime of 10 years, compared to the 7-year lifetime of the second generation GLONASS-M. It will transmit more navigation signals to improve the system’s accuracy, including new CDMA signals in the L3 and L5 bands which will use modulation similar to modernized GPS, Galileo and Compass. The new satellite’s advanced equipment—made solely from Russian components—will allow the doubling of GLONASS’ accuracy. As with the previous satellites, these are 3-axis stabilized, nadir pointing with dual solar arrays. The first GLONASS-K satellite was successfully launched on 26 February 2011.

Due to their weight reduction, GLONASS-K spacecraft can be launched in pairs from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome launch site using the substantially lower cost Soyuz-2.1b boosters or in six-at-once from the Baikonur Cosmodrome using Proton-K Briz-M launch vehicles.

Ground control

The ground control segment of GLONASS is almost entirely located within former Soviet Union territory, except for a station in Brasilia, Brazil. The Ground Control Center and Time Standards is located in Moscow and the telemetry and tracking stations are in Saint Petersburg, Ternopol, Eniseisk, and Komsomolsk-na-Amure.


Septentrio, Topcon, C-Nav, JAVAD, Magellan Navigation, Novatel, Leica Geosystems, Hemisphere GPS and Trimble Inc produce GNSS receivers making use of GLONASS. NPO Progress describes a receiver called “GALS-A1″ which combines GPS and GLONASS reception. SkyWave Mobile Communications manufactures an Inmarsat-based satellite communications terminal that uses both GLONASS and GPS. As of 2011, some of the latest receivers in the Garmin eTrex line also support GLONASS (along with GPS). Various smartphones from 2011 onwards have integrated GLONASS capability, including devices from Xiaomi Tech Company (Xiaomi Phone 2), Sony Ericsson, ZTE, Huawei, Samsung, Apple (iPhone 4S, iPhone 5), iPad Mini (LTE model only) and iPad (3rd generation, 4G model only)), HTC, LG Motorola and Nokia.




As of 8 January 2013, the GLONASS constellation status is:

Total Satellites in Constellation 29 SC
Operational 23 SC (Glonass-M)
In Commissioning 0 SC
In Flight-test 1 SC (Glonass-K)
In Maintenance 2 SC (Glonass-M)
Spare 3 SC (Glonass-M)
In Decommissioning


The system requires 18 satellites for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of the Russian Federation, and 24 satellites to provide services worldwide. The GLONASS system covers 100% of worldwide territory.



Integral navigation availability for GLONASS customer (PDOP≤6) on the diurnal range for elevation not less than 5 degrees on 6 January 2012

According to Russian System of Differentional Correction and Monitoring’s data, as of 2010, precisions of GLONASS navigation definitions (for p=0.95) for latitude and longitude were 4.46—7.38 m with mean number of NSV equals 7—8 (depending on station). In comparison, the same time precisions of GPS navigation definitions were 2.00—8.76 m with mean number of NSV equals 6—11 (depending on station). Civilian GLONASS used alone is therefore very slightly less accurate than GPS. On high latitudes (north or south), GLONASS’ accuracy is better than that of GPS due to the orbital position of the satellites.

Some modern receivers are able to use both GLONASS and GPS satellites together, providing greatly improved coverage in urban canyons and giving a very fast time to fix due to over 50 satellites being available. In indoor, urban canyon or mountainous areas, accuracy can be greatly improved over using GPS alone. For using both navigation systems simultaneously, precisions of GLONASS/GPS navigation definitions were 2.37—4.65 m with mean number of NSV equals 14—19 (depends on station).

In May 2009, Anatoly Perminov the then director of the Russian Federal Space Agency stated that actions were undertaken to expand GLONASS’s constellation and to improve the ground segment in order to increase the navigation definition of GLONASS to an accuracy of 2.8 m by 2011. In particular, the latest satellite design, GLONASS-K has the ability to double the system’s accuracy once introduced. The system’s ground segment is also to undergo improvements. As of early 2012, sixteen positioning ground stations are under construction in Russia and in the Antarctic at the Bellingshausen and Novolazarevskaya bases. New stations will be built around the southern hemisphere from Brazil to Indonesia. Together, these improvements are expected to bring GLONASS’ accuracy to 0.6 m or better by 2020.

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