Best sat nav 2015: which navigation option is right for you?

What new sat nav should you buy in the UK?

Read: TomTom Go 60 review

TomTom Go 5000 review

TomTom Go 5000

The 5-inch member of TomTom's latest range is pure nav at its best

Dedicated navigation devices have gone through something of a crisis of confidence. That's thanks to the rise of the smartphone. With almost everyone now toting smartphones with navigation ability, who needs a TomTom? For a while, it seemed like the answer was every more complex nav devices that mirrored the functionality of smartphones. But TomTom's latest have proved what a dead end that idea is. The real answer is to makes navs so good at actually being navigation devices, they're worth having as well as a smartphone. The TomTom Go 5000 does just that. It's very probably our favourite navigation device.

Read: TomTom Go 5000 review

Clear interface

TomTom Rider 2013

A top sat-nav unit for a motorcycle

The TomTom Rider is a top sat nav unit for a motorcyclist, works terrifically well and should be one of only a couple of options you consider if you're in the market for one. With no car charger or mount included, in contrast with its biggest rival, Garmin's Zumo350, this is strictly for bike only.

Read: TomTom Rider review

ipad st nav

Apple iPhone / iPad

Sat navs for the iPhone don't have to cost you a fortune

There are plenty of sat nav apps available for iOS. Apple Maps will get you there, and it's nowhere near as clunky and unreliable as it was when it first launched. And the main benefit of using this app is that it comes with your device, so you won't need to install it.

Of course, you can also use Google Maps navigation in the same way, which is an easy install from the App Store and it's free too. There are, in fact, plenty of free options, including Navfree which has sort of been brushed aside since Apple and Google released their free options.

But there are also a whole load more professional sat nav options. TomTom, CoPilot, Navigon and Garmin - the biggest names in navigation - all have apps out. They're not super cheap - you're looking at £40 to £60+ with further costs for traffic tracking, overseas maps and making your sat nav talk like Marge Simpson - but you'll get free updates for life.


Android phone / tablet

Are freebie apps really an alternative to premium navigation?

There's a variety of sat nav apps available for Android phones and tablets, and the great news is that on this platform there's absolutely no need to spend any money - the best ones are free.

Google Maps doesn't need much introduction, but surprisingly few have tried Navigation, its linked sat nav app. The driving guides offered by this tool are powerful and accurate, although we'll admit that some of the pronunciations can be clumsy.

A premium alternative is the TomTom app for Android. It brings all the goodness of TomTom's market leading nav devices to Android, and again, it means you'll only have to spend money once.

With that in mind, the best current bet for Android could be the CoPilot Live Premium. It's competively priced at £19.99 for the UK & Ireland version and combines all the usual turn-by-turn niceties with ActiveTraffic and some social networking bells and whistles.

nokia here maps

Nokia Here Maps

Navigation has become a proper big boy's toy. All the major players including Google and Apple are at it. But mapping ain't easy and the stakes are high as Apple found when it ditched Google Maps in favour of its own flawed map app with the iPhone 5.

While all that was going on, Nokia has been trying to reboot its relevance as a smartphone maker and part of that effort is Nokia's Here Maps. Intriguingly, it's not just available on Nokia's swanky new Windows Phone 8 handsets. You can also download it for iPhone and Android. And it's free.

We're still getting to grips with how Nokia Here compares on different platforms. But the good news is that you can download map data to the handset. It also comes packed with funky online features like real-time traffic, public transport schedules, points of interest and more.

Admittedly, Nokia Here is more optimised as a general mapping app in the Google Maps mould. But it does have turn-by-turn navigation. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Skobbler ForeverMap - Android and iPhone - Free

The perfect answer if you're not happy with the route your phone suggests

If you don't get on with the previous apps for your particular smartphone, then it's worth checking out Skobbler's offering, which is available in both iOS and Android guises. This app may not boast all of the features you'll find on high-end sat nav devices, but it does pack a punch, thanks to the power of its underlying technology - OpenStreetMap.

Akin to Wikipedia, but for maps, OpenStreetMap enables you to correct any problems that you see in your journeys. It does mean that some areas are a little patchy, but you can add in information yourself to bring it up to date.