Navigon vs. Scout vs. TomTom: iPhone turn-by-turn navigation app shootout!

Garmin's Navigon, Telenav's Scout, and TomTom are all excellent GPS turn-by-turn navigation apps available for the iPhone, and all handle navigation, especially the bells and whistles surrounding it, differently. Since turn-by-turn GPS navigation apps are among the few that have maintained higher price points in the app store, so it's not financial viable to simply buy them all and figure out which one works best for you. That's where iMore comes in! We've loaded them up, driven around, and figured out who offers the best all-in-one maps and voice navigation package, and more importantly, which one is best for you!

Note: We will be using the U.S. versions of all three apps but all three have many different offerings across several countries.

Navigon vs. Scout vs. TomTom: Interface and ease of use

Navigon-Scout-TomTom-for-iPhone-ease-of-use

Navigon, now part of Garmin, has a standard interface and is exactly what you'd expect from a GPS app. Unlike previous versions, the maps aren't hard coded into the app any more (no more 1.5GB downloads.) Instead, upon launching the app for the first time, you're asked to download necessary files and the maps you'd like, including the option to download all maps. After all your initial files download you can start using the app.

Navigon-for-iPhone-ease-of-use-and-interface

To start navigation just tap the top left button on the main screen and choose from entering an address, searching for a point of interest, saved destinations, or home. Once you've found the destination you'd like to use just select it and you'll get an overview of the weather at the location and some other places close to your destination. Tapping the more tab allows you to save it as a favorite, view the route or add it to an existing trip, and send it to someone.

Tapping Start Navigation in the upper right-hand corner will show you the available routes. Select one and tap Start Navigation one more time to begin turn-by-turn navigation. Just start driving and voice will guide you. You can tap the most recent direction in the left bottom corner to repeat the current command. You can also tap the right top button to end navigation, see a list view of directions, and more.

Scout-by-Telenav-for-iPhone-ease-of-use-and-interface

Scout by Telenav approaches navigation a bit differently than traditional GPS apps. After downloading the app and launching it you're presented with a screen showing weather at your current location, a small map preview of where you are, a places section to browse points of interest, and quick toggles for home and work.

Tap on Places to start searching for destinations to navigate to. If you know the address of the place you'd like to go to, just type it in the search bar on the main page and you're off. If you're looking for a place, just search for it and select it. You'll see an overview of it's location on a map, the address, phone number, reviews, and more. Tap the address to start navigation to that location. You can either view traditional directions or use voice navigation.

After you start turn-by-turn navigation, Scout will start dictating directions. Tap the map once to bring up additional options such as music, traffic, and zoom in/out. The interface of Scout is great and extremely easy to use. There's nothing to learn or configure. Just open the app and start using it.

TomTom-for-iPhone-ease-of-use-and-interface

TomTom works almost identically to the way Navigon works but with a different interface. The main screen is a list view of options. Tapping into the Navigate To... tab will get you started on searching for a destination. You can program in a home address, add favorites, search an address, or search places.

TomTom search uses Google and also has Facebook integration. Using Facebook will show how many people like that destination or business. I'm not quite sure how useful this feature is and I think TomTom's time would have been better spent enhancing their interface and user experience. It feels quite dated and somewhat sluggish at times, especially when navigating. The maps are choppy and take time to catch up when driving.

Scout by Telenav has the best interface of all three apps and is also the easiest to use by a long shot.

Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Maps

Navigon-for-iPhone-main-menu

Navigon no longer downloads all the maps to your iPhone by default but allows you to choose which maps you'd like to load. Some users may like this as it doesn't take up so much space on your iPhone. It manages to provide local support for maps in case you have bad or no coverage but doesn't eat up a ton of storage space.

Navigon-for-iPhone-maps

One big problem I had with Navigon was the fact that their maps were already outdated after my initial download. There are several streets in my town in doesn't show that aren't exactly new (some are a year or so old). If I want updated maps, it's a $39.99 in-app purchase. Navigon has to license their maps, so I can understand that fee being passed on, but it seems like a user should at least get the latest copies when they first buy the app, and subsequent annual updates can be paid for. When I buy a navigation app I expect it to have up to date maps coverage.

Scout-for-iPhone-maps

Scout by Telenav doesn't seem to store any maps locally, and so depends on an internet connection in order to function properly. If you don't typically travel to places that have spotty coverage you should be fine with Scout, but may want to download an atlas or maps app to compliment it in the event you do get lost in an area with little service.

Scout also has the most attractive maps of the three apps, and I had no issues with it finding all the destinations I needed. The animations were smooth and the maps were accurate. Like Navigon, Telenav has to license their maps, and some reviewers on iTunes expressed issues with the maps being out of date. However, I didn't experience that in my area. If you're thinking about purchasing a subscription to Scout, download the app first and do some driving. Scout comes with a free 30 day trial so just make sure you give it a good test run before committing to a purchase.

TomTom-for-iPhone-maps

TomTom stores all your maps locally. You'll have to be on Wi-Fi for the initial download as it comes in at over 1GB (for the U.S. version at least). Once you've downloaded the app you won't have to worry about an internet connection to use turn-by-turn directions.

Unfortunately TomTom also had the most issues when it came to actually navigating. Since all the maps are local, I'm not sure if it had issues with GPS, or something else wasn't working right, but it was very choppy overall. It would be nice to see an update issued to address the lag issues.

On the plus side, TomTom owns their own maps so they have an advantage when it comes to timely updates and general accuracy.

Overall, Navigon has the most versatile maps offering. Selective downloading of maps is a great way to save physical storage while still protecting against lost or spotty 3G reception. Scout's may look nicer, TomTom might be the most up-to-date, but Navigon is the best compromise.

Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Turn-by-turn navigation

TomTom-for-iPhone-in-app-purchases

Navigon's voice navigation works well and it's easy to repeat a step simply by tapping in the lower left hand corner. Traffic messages or speed limit warnings can also be enabled via Settings. Some features, however, require additional in-app purchases in order to use, such as live traffic or radar information.

Navigon-for-iPhone-voice-navigation

Scout by Telenav's voice navigation works surprisingly well for a cheaper option, especially considering it performs all tasks remotely as opposed to storing maps locally. Tapping the upper left directional arrow will repeat the last direction.

Scout-by-Telenav-for-iPhone-voice-navigation

TomTom was the most disappointing when it came to voice navigation due to the lag. Aside from the interface, that was the most frustrating part of using TomTom. I just felt like it either couldn't keep up or the map was struggling to load streets around and keep up with our position.

TomTom-for-iPhone-voice-navigation

There was a few times we were getting ready to make a turn and the voice navigation had just caught up and told us to make a turn. If I wasn't familiar with the area I probably would have missed the turn as it wouldn't have told me soon enough. Sometimes TomTom would keep up perfectly fine for a while and then it would start to lag. My service coverage didn't change so I wasn't able to find a reasonable explanation for this.

TomTom does, however, offers the best voice options. You can purchase additional voices via an in-app purchase as well, including Simpsons characters.

Scout by Telenav has the smoothest experience when it comes to voice navigation but local maps integration in Navigon make it a bit snappier at times. Tie.

Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Additional features

Navigon-for-iPhone-iPod-controls

Navigon, Scout by Telenav, and TomTom all carry almost the same feature set. For example, Navigon, Scout, and TomTom all support iPod controls in-app so you can control music without exiting navigation or closing the app. It isn't as obvious in Navigon though. You'll have to enable iPod controls in Settings before they'll start showing up on the Navigation screen.

Navigon offers several additional features on top of traditional turn-by-turn voice navigation such as panorama 3D views, radar info, and live traffic updates. However, almost all additional functionality requires an additional in-app purchase.

Navigon-for-iPhone-additional-features

I did enjoy having the option to only download the maps I need in order to conserve physical storage limitations on my iPhone. Navigon was the only app of the three that gives you this option since TomTom downloads all of them as an initial download and Scout depends on an internet connection.

Scout-by-Telenav-for-iPhone-additional-features

Scout by Telenav had the most useful features built right into the app. It will show you traffic info and a ton of information about places of interest directly in the app. You can even select Minimize All Delays when viewing traffic information to reroute based on traffic. A lot of other navigation apps require an additional purchase for this feature.

You can use Scout's scout.me beta site to set up routes and send links straight to your iPhone as well as explore new places to visit. It's a neat feature if you like to travel often. Scout also offers movie and weather information via the Extras tab. This is a nice addition and allows you to view movies, showtimes, and Rotten Tomatoes ratings directly within the app. This is a nice feature if you're not in your home area and aren't sure what theaters are around. No needs to look it up and map it, let Scout do it for you.

There isn't anything additional to purchase on top of the monthly or annual subscription fee. As long as you've got a subscription you'll get any features Telenav decides to put in the app. I've found Scout to be just as full-featured as any other navigation app I've used minus the ability to store maps locally. It gives the same speed limit and traffic incident warnings the more expensive apps give as well.

TomTom-for-iPhone-additional-features

TomTom is feature packed but some features will come at a cost just like Navigon. TomTom also allows traffic updates but you'll have to subscribe to it as an in-app purchase. TomTom's traffic service also is recurring which may not be appealing to many users. It also allows you to set up alerts such as speed warnings like Navigon and Scout do.

The ability to buy additional, celebrity voices is something unique to TomTom and something some users will no doubt appreciate. That said, they could use a lot more voice options. Where's Darth Vader?

All three carry many of the same features, but we're giving a slight edge to TomTom for owning their own maps and making additional voices available.

Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Cost

TomTom-for-iPhone-pricing

Navigon prices will vary a based on what version you need. That's from $30 all the way up to $80. The U.S. version will run you $49.99 but if you find your maps to be outdated like I did, you may have to spend another $39.99 via in-app purchase for the FreshMaps update. Other in-app purchases range in cost from $4.99 for US speedcams to $9.99 for panorama view to $19.99 for traffic.

Scout by Telenav is free to download and comes with a 30 day free trial. After that you can either subscribe monthly or yearly. A monthly subscription will run you $2.99 while a yearly subscriptions will run you $9.99. It's the most reasonably priced app of the three, especially when you consider it doesn't charge you an additional fee for features like live traffic information. However -- and it's a HUGE however -- Scout is currently U.S. only, which means international readers can scratch it off their lists for now.

TomTom follows the same pricing structure as Navigon and will depend on what version you need. The U.S. version is priced at $36.99 while other versions can run as high as $120. In-app purchases range in price from $5.99 for voices like Homer or Mr. Burns, to $19.99 for a 12-month subscription to traffic HD.

Scout by Telenav is the most affordable choice.

Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Conclusion

Navigon vs. Scout vs. TomTom: iPhone turn-by-turn navigation app shootout!

Navigon, Scout by Telenav, and TomTom are all good choices when it comes to iPhone voice navigation apps. In most cases, they're a lot better than their competition.

Navigon is best for those who want the security of on-board maps without the hassle of huge, up-front downloads or updates. They've got a ton of options as in-app purchases, and while those can add up, you can also pick and choose only the ones you want to keep costs down. If you want power and flexibility, Navigon is a great choice.

TomTom is the best choice for those who absolutely want all maps, all the time, and to have them as up-to-date as possible just as soon as possible. There aren't as many in-app options, but the one that stands out is celebrity voices. If you want that, you're going with TomTom.

Scout by Telenav is the best for people in the U.S. who want low up front costs, and want to save on storage by keeping map data online instead of on-board. Scout also provides all their premium services at no additional cost to their subscribers, and presents them in a much more appealing way than other navigation apps. While it may not be the best option for everyone it will be the best option for the majority.

Unless you're outside the U.S, or online maps are deal-breaker for you, Scout by Telenav is our current favorite turn-by-turn navigation app for iPhone.

Navigon - Download now

TomTom - Download now

Scout - Download now

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 40 comments. Add yours.

flyingember says:

tomtom needs to do two things.

  1. make it easier to use it. your interface comments were spot on. some things are easy to get to but try hitting the back button when driving. some menu items are super hidden, took me forever to figure out how to hide POIs
  2. have a way to copy-paste an address in and ask for clarification if needed. like if I put 100 Elk Drive and there's really a Elk Run Drive and Elk Forest Drive it should be smart enough to ask with one I want. Even better, it should be able to display a little map showing me both streets.
kch50428 says:

About the maps being "dated".... It's the same in the stand-alone GPS world. And the price of Navigon's 'FreshMaps' is a bargain compared to a one-time map purchase for a Garmin Nuvi or lifetime update subscription for a device that didn't come with it. Navigon's FreshMaps is a subscription for updates, currently quarterly for up to 3 years - a little over a buck a month. And Navigon is awesome on an iPad.

iArnie says:

Here is an exact quote from Navigon's description of their app on iTunes -- "Latest Map Guarantee: NAVIGON'S new Latest Map Guarantee provides customers the latest NAVTEQ map available when purchasing Navigon 2.0 for iPhone." If they are not providing the latest maps to new purchasers, a complaint should be made to Apple.
My experience with Navigon is that they are not a very reputable company.

SolublePeter says:

Would be useful to compare to copilot too.
The comment on map accuracy was unfair, its not uncommon to have a year or two lag from the time roads are built, and many GPS apps and standalone satnavs use the same (two?) commercial map providers.

Plasmanut says:

I have been using Navigon North America for 2+ years.
I really like the app. My favourite feature is the Real View of road signs when apporaching an important exit on the highway.
Since its first iteration, it has become snappier and more "lightweight" maybe in part due to newer hardware (I remember how it used to slow my iPhone 3G to a crawl.
My biggest annoyance is that it now requires a full time network connection to function. Didn't used to be that way with the early versions. Being from Canada, I travel to the US a lot and it was nice to be able to make use of the GPS on the phone while not connected to a 3G network (to avoid roaming data charges). This is a major, major drawback.
Otherwise, very good app that I would recommend as it is spot on every time when it comes to directions.

kch50428 says:

Navigon NA does not require a network connection - I use it on my wifi iPad (with the plug-in BadElf device for GPS...) - and it works flawlessly.

Plasmanut says:

BadElf plugin? I'll need to get on Google, then. Don't have the foggiest idea what this means...

kch50428 says:

It's a device that plugs into the iPad charging port that is a GPS receiver... provides wifi iPads the GPS receiver functionality they lack on their own.

JG says:

Where's Waze? And nothing from Garmin? This comparison is woefully incomplete.

kch50428 says:

And Garmin's "own" apps pale in comparison to Navigon :D

samhooah says:

COMPLETELY disagree! I was a faithful Navigon user since 2006 when I used their standalone unit in Germany, but became increasingly dissatisfied over the past year. I switched to Garmin a few months ago and haven't looked back. Saying Garmin "IS" Navigon isn't quite accurate...

  1. Garmin has a separate app, which is much more user-friendly than the Navigon app that they acquired.
  2. Navigon address entry is cumbersome and often requires the use of a "proxy" app like Navigon Now to make it simpler.
  3. Navigon menus are more convoluted than they need to be.
  4. Garmin should definitely have been included in this review.
Kent says:

I second the Waze comparison request. Other sites have rated Waze (which is free) to be better than most, if not all, of the competitors described above. My own experience is that Waze is more usable and helpful than Navigon that I used previously. I had problems with Navigon giving me turn requests too late. Perhaps that was a GPS issue with my phone hardware, but it's hard to tell.

kch50428 says:

If Waze is all you've ever used for Personal Navigation, you'll think it's awesome - but if you've ever had a Garmin Nuvi, or any other PND - Waze just does not compare.

DonS50 says:

Waze IS a great program to use. Before I had a Blackberry and Blackberry Traffic was one of the best for my needs. After upgrading to iPhone 4S I found Waze and have been using it for some time. It is a free app so if you want to try out a program like this it is a good start.

Mike says:

Is there something wrong with you phone? I have used tomtom app for years across three devices (3GS, iphone4, 4s) and have never had lag or anything choppy. A couple of my friends have it as well and they do not have any issues.

akag says:

Agree with Mike. Tried them all. + Waze and Motion X GPS Go. TomTom is best suited for my needs. And no lag or choppyness on my 4S or wife's 4...
Maybe I'm used to their UI (been using standalones since 2005) but any other UI is less functional. Company is horrible, latest standalone is crap, but app is good. Of course built in iphone app would be better...
Probably...
Then, maybe not. Considering how bad all other built in apps are...

kr1114 says:

I too have to agree with Mike, I have used Tom Tom for years across different iPhones and I have had no lag at all, the turn-by-turn directions are bang on, the maps are unbelieveably up-to-date and once you get used to the UI you dont even notice it. The in-app options are complete as far as I am concerned...not sure what else a person would want.

zildgen says:

Same here, no lags whatsoever. Traveled across the county and had zero issues with the data or lags. TomTom by far is the best out there. Download once and get updates when needed.

philcastonia says:

Why doesn't the Mapquest App ever get any hype? For what you pay (FREE) it really is the best deal. i have found it gives me directions just as i need them. Worth a look!

wormeyman says:

I would like to apologize for just scrolling to the end of these shootouts that you spend a ton of time on to see what is the best.

blyths says:

Not sure why you paid $39.99 for a map update with Navigon. North American maps with FreshMaps are $19.99 if you start with the full North American version and you missed mentioning that this is a service - it means you get quarterly updates instead of infrequent and unpredictable free updates. I can only guess that you started with a regional version and then bought FreshMaps? That upgrades you to the full North American version by the way - so you possibly paid $50 for the US version, then another $40 to go to the full North American version? Effectively a $10 upgrade for the FreshMaps portion.
Plus the regular updates are guaranteed for two years, but intended to be permanent (I assume this is depending on license agreements with their map provider).

Todd says:

I bought TomTom while I was on vacation and it was okay, but I paid for a month of traffic data and half the time, it siad the data was not available.
Shortly after I got home, I downloaded WAZE and started using it on my daily commute. While that is what it is more geared toward, the turn-by-turn navigation aspect of WAZE should work for longer trips too. Best of all, WAZE is free and you get to be part of a community making driving better for everyone.
Having switched from Android to iPhone less than a year ago, I still cannot believe that apple does not provide a solution here. None of the apps I've looked at work as well as the Google Maps Navigation included for free on all Android phones..

rkevwill says:

Todd, most of the time when it says data is not available, its because the cell reception is not of high enough quality to receive the traffic reports. Chalk one up for Garmin Nuvi's FM traffic.

SockRolid says:

Yet another awesome iMore article, Ally! Thanks!
Re: Garmin's Navigon, Telenav's Scout, and TomTom are all excellent GPS turn-by-turn navigation apps available for the iPhone...
They could all be facing stiff competition soon, if Apple does in fact roll out their own turn-by-turn system as part of their (widely expected) massive upgrade to Maps in iOS 6. Combine that with Siri and BOOM. Sherlocked.

kch50428 says:

Until Apple's revamped map app is released, it's just rumorware. :D

Russell says:

What about waze it's pretty bomb. Has turn by turn and a network of people updating traffic situation and police locations

Patrick says:

Google Navigation would be great. Us it on my GNex. On my 4s I use TeleNav. Seems to work pretty good. If VZNavigator was a one time purchase I'd go for that. Not for $5/month. It's feature rich to be sure.

Rowanova says:

I would agree with a couple other commenters here. Waze and Mapquest work quite well and are free. At this point in time I can't think of a reason why I'd spend that kind of money for an app that can be matched in functionality with a free offering. Mapquest also allows users to find a number of attractions and services near their current location.
I would be interested in a solution that would show off grid roads and trails without cell service, though. Useful for camping and hiking off forest service roads where civilized services and cellular connections may be miles and miles away. Anybody have any suggestions?

kch50428 says:

I don't know if apps exist for trails/topo maps... there may be some... but it sounds more like you'd be better off with a Garmin device geared towards hiking, etc.

Chris Vitek says:

These have changed quite a bit from when I reviewed them about two years ago. Navigon was my preferred choice, just over the others. Magellan was also a good one.

cardfan says:

Useless without preloaded maps. Navigon is easily the best navigation offering on iOS.

rkevwill says:

Allyson, Personally, I think you missed the MOST important feature. TomTom has a separate car mount, with an additional Sirf lll GPS chip. This brings the TomTom combo up to nearly the quality of reception of standalone GPS devices like a good Nuvi. The internal GPS chips in the iPhone, as well as the Android phones are not nearly as sensitive as what is in standalone GPS devices. In addition, I am not sure why you had the lag you discussed. I personally have never had the lag you mentioned on the TomTom. And, I have tried several apps (as I am a GPS freak). And yes, you also should have tried the Garmin On Board. I have always preferred Garmin, but they need to come out with a car mount with a separate GPS chip like TomTom. At present I use two devices. The TomTom with the car mount, and a Garmin Nuvi.

Daniyo says:

LAG on TomTom? Never happened over here... Jailbroken and iPhone 4 and 3G! Never had any struggles... not very sure what you mean by lag cuz both my phones ran TomTom smoothly and it was realtime... TomTom sure does have the menu set up real bad... Garmin sure does have a nice menu for iPhone but the real problem with Garmin was actual lag... It would lag enough to crash the app itself. Navigon has a hard to use interface in the menus and the maps look like old school GPS's... TomTom used to be very horrible with their own GPS's... Maps would look exactly like current day Navigon maps. Pretty impressed with TomTom now. Usually travel around North America so I know how accurate the maps are. Constant updates for maps were available inside the app itself and usually around 1mb. I have used TomTom for around 2 and a half years and currently happy with TomTom.

just_jeepin says:

I've owned a stand-alone TomTom and 2 Garmin GPSes and Waze and Mapquest both beat the stand-alone units !

Tim says:

I have used Navigon for a while now. It is very accurate, but the way you enter an address is confusing and takes much longer than it should. To enter a specific address you must; select the state from a list, select the city from a list, enter the street name, enter the street number. This is time consuming, and makes it impossible to copy and paste an address from a google search. This also makes it difficult when looking for businesses that are actually in a suburb city. For example, Ikea in Austin is actually in Round Rock TX. It took me a while to figure out that my city selection was wrong.
I have started using Waze, for my navigation. It does fine around my town, but when traveling, I found it often would send me on longer routes than Navigon. when I am traveling with my wife, we usually will input the address we are going to into Waze, because it is fast. (You can even just search google from within the app. This makes it possible to search for Ikea Austin TX and get a fast result) I then begin navigating in the right direction using Waze until my wife can get the address entered into Navigon, at which point we follow the Navigon directions, since they are more accurate.
I think if one of the big name navigation apps would buy Waze, and utilize it's easy search function, we would have a true winner.

Sandeep Samal says:

Please add SYGIC to this comparison. I believe it to be a better Navigation App than most. And definitely better than Google Maps.

Zola Trettin says:

It sickens me to see whats these muslim filth has done i wish that the british people get of their arses and come out against these animals, if this was muslims they would of been thousands of muslims out their protesting , wake up England

Rob Nort says:

I initially purchased tom-tom when it was still $99 about two years ago. I've been using it ever since and each update has made it subsequently significantly better than the last time. They update the app frequently and the maps are constantly kept up-to-date through in app refreshes. I have also tried the $.99 navigation that works with my Pioneer App Radio in my car and it sucks but tom-tom is great. If you have anything older than an iPhone 4 though, it is very sluggish. On the 4s it is zippy and not sluggish at all as long as I don't have a bunch of other apps running in the background.

Dubya says:

I am a brand new convert from android and LOVED my navigation powered by google. I would just speak the address and it would locate and begin navigation. I travel all over te country at least one trip per week on average. Never had one issue with directions...not even in smaller towns or suburbs with new roads. That was one of my most frequently used apps. I didnt realize how good i had it until switching to the 4s. I agree w above and i am shocked at the lack of a trustworthy navigation solution by apple. I had issues with mapquest in the past so when faced with this issue, I tried waze. It's cool, and I like the notice of cops and cameras/traffic, etc. However, the 1st time I tried it going to the airport in my home city (just to give it a whirl) it totally flunked. The directions only require two basic "turns" off of major freeways & there was no traffic. If I didn't know the way already, waze would've caused me to take a ridiculous route ad would've made me miss my flight. Get your act together apple. Why NOT allow google navi??