TomTom for iPhone/iPad review

22 Jun 2012

The quality of TomTom’s route calculation and traffic avoidance makes it our favourite satnav app, despite the high price

Price when reviewed: 
50inc VAT
5

TomTom's iPhone and iPad apps have a lot of competition these days. The number of paid-for, free and innovative alternatives is steadily on the rise, and the improving quality of the crowdsourced OpenStreetMap means that upward curve is likely to continue.

And TomTom does have one major point against it: £50, plus another £27 for the HD Traffic services, and a further £27 for the speed camera alerts, is an awful lot to expect anyone to spend on an app.

As our road tests prove, however, you get what you pay for, and those seeking the very best in navigation and guidance would be foolish to discount TomTom for its price.

TomTom satnav app on iPhone

In our standard road test, winding through the highways and byways of north-east London and its suburbs, the app put in an almost flawless performance. On each leg of our journey the chosen route was quick and made complete sense, avoiding traffic black spots such as Gants Hill roundabout and Barkingside High Street.

Here, TomTom’s IQ Routes feature comes in handy, as it not only considers posted speed limits, but also real-world average traffic speeds, when calculating every route.

Voice instructions were issued in perfect time – never too early or late, and always clear and sensible. The TomTom app lacks an alternative route feature (where it presents alternatives up front) like CoPilot or Navigon, but since it rarely gets the choice of original route wrong, that’s no great loss.

When it comes to traffic avoidance, TomTom simply crushes the competition. It spots traffic jams with such accuracy that not only the position of the jam but also where it starts is marked on the map, correct to within a few hundred metres.

Critically, TomTom communicates what’s going on with the traffic situation highly effectively, never announcing traffic problems out of context of the current route. If an upcoming jam means a five-minute delay, it says so, but it won’t offer an alternative unless the delay makes potential alternatives quicker.

Searching for destinations was the only area we found fault with during testing, but even this wasn’t entirely TomTom’s fault. Online POI searches are restricted to Google, which on our route has Redbridge Museum incorrectly positioned on a residential street close by its real location.

TomTom satnav app on iPad

With full postcode search, and an extensive built-in database of POIs, however, we tracked down the rest of our destinations without a hitch – even the tricky Stapleford Airfield.

TomTom’s app isn’t flawless. Its maps aren’t the most attractive to look at, with a rather dull red-and-beige colour scheme. And although no separate purchase is needed to get iPad-specific customisations – which allow menus to be viewed, settings changed and location searches to be carried out without exiting the main map screen – there’s still work to do.

On the iPad, button sizes vary wildly, giving the app an inconsistent feel, and the driving view makes poor use of the larger screen.

Perhaps more seriously, TomTom continues to ignore Android phones and tablets. That’s unfortunate, but for anyone owning an iOS device, the superb route finding and traffic avoidance make TomTom well worth the asking price.

Details

Price ex VAT £42
Price inc VAT £50
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Software subcategory Other software

Operating system support

Other operating system support iOS