TomTom USA iPhone Review

I finally bought GPS software! Here is my review.

I believe that all reviews should include the following configuration information.


  • iPhone 3G 8GB
  • OS 3.1.2
  • Network – ATT
  • Songs – 453
  • Videos – 1
  • Photos – 250
  • Applications – 60

My Location:

  • San Jose, California


I have been reading reviews and vacillating between all the top players. I didn’t want to spend $100 or have recurring fees. I have tried a number of  free or lite versions of GPS software that are available from the App Store but none of them were serious contenders.

Here are two reasons that helped me decide. First, TomTom dropped the price to $50. Second, I was driving back from Laguna Seca Raceway with a friend and we were getting hungry so I used Google Mobile App to find a steak house along our current route and then discovered that my friend had TomTom on his iPhone. Even though he was somewhat unfamiliar with the program, we were directed accurately to the restaurant. In addition I plugged his phone into my car speakers and the spoken directions were incredibly clear.


The following day I went to the TomTom web site and downloaded and read the user manual.  That made me realize how intuitive the user interface was and I finally decided to purchase TomTom USA from the App Store using iTunes on my PC at home. Be forewarned that the download is over 1 Gigabyte in size and it will take a while. I have a very high-speed internet connection at home (15 Mbps) and the download took over 10 minutes. The first time I download the program, iTunes hung after it had received the file so I had to restart iTunes and download it again.


I had around 3GB of free space on my phone when I started the Sync and after the file had been transferred to the phone I received a complaint that the app could not be installed due to low memory.  I went through my list of apps and started deleting the bigger ones then started the Sync again and all went well. Now that TomTom is installed and working, my phone has 2GB free space so I will reinstall the apps that I removed.


As soon as the program was installed I started playing with it while I was in my den at home. I tried every button, went to all the screens, looked at all of the available options, planned a route, re-calculated the route, and generally got familiar with the interface. It is really important to get familiar with the program while you are stationary.

Planning a route is real simple, enter a destination and go. All the selection buttons are big and the text is easy to read which is especially nice since I need reading glasses.

There is pertinent information on the main screen: Current street name, distance to destination, current speed, distance to next turn, ETA, current time.

There were a number of features that I wanted to be completely familiar with before I started driving. I wanted to be able to see a map of the whole route, zoom in and out easily and see a turn by turn list of the route.

I can’t emphasize this enough, you should be familiar with accessing the features that are important to you before you ever start your trip. Driving in an unfamiliar environment and trying to operate an unfamiliar device is a recipe for disaster!


To see turn by turn directions from the main screen:

  • Touch the screen to access the main menu.
  • Touch “Route Options” to access the route options menu.
  • Touch “Instructions” to access the turn by turn list.

Not entirely intuitive but reasonably easy once you know where the information is.

To see a map of whole route:

  • Touch the screen to access the main menu.
  • Touch “Route Options” to access the route options menu.
  • Touch “Map of Route” to see a map of the entire route.


  • Touch the screen to access the main menu.
  • Scroll down till you see “Browse Map”.
  • Touch “Browse Map” button.

When viewing a map, the program responds to the standard “pinch” gestures to zoom in and out. In addition, you can double tap the map with one finger to zoom in and single tap the map with two fingers to zoom out.


All of this preparation and I haven’t even used the program to navigate anywhere yet! My next blog entry will contain my impressions of the actual navigation capabilities of the TomTom program.


1 comment so far

  1. Locke on

    Your review is clear and, more importantly, concise. I look forward to your actual trip comments.

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