Galileo, GPS, GLONASS and Beidou: what they are and how they differ

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When you check the specs of any phone Android that is launched in Spain, you always find a couple of features present in the connectivity section. These are GPS, GLONASS and Galileo, which are three positioning systems for the phone. Three well-known names, but they are not the same, and also, we cannot forget Beidou, who is starting to gain prominence.

Next we are going to tell you what are GPS, GLONASS, Galileo or Beidou, as well as the differences between the first three systems. Since there are a number of differences between all of them, which are so important in Android mobile phones today.

What is Galileo

Galileo, GPS, GLONASS and Beidou: what they are and how they differ 1

Galileo is a satellite navigation project developed and funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union. This system is intended to create a high precision positioning system. In addition, it is intended to be a European project, which will not depend on GPS or GLONASS (Russian system), in addition to having greater precision than these two.

Since 2011, several of the satellites of this project have been launched, and in 2013 the tests with this system began. As time has passed, this system has been perfected, thanks to more satellites being put into orbit. Since the goal is to create a system that is more accurate than GPS or GLONASS, as we have mentioned.

Galileo is also a civil project, so that unlike GPS or GLONASS, which are driven for military purposes, it is not intended to make use of it in the military field, nor is it intended for an army to have power over it, as happens in GPS. Since a project like GPS can be used for espionage, something that is not sought or can be done with Galileo.

What is GPS

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GPS is the Global Positioning System (Global Positioning System in English). It is a system that has been developed and installed by the United States Department of Defense, although it is currently owned by the United States Space Force.

The objective of this system is determine the position of an object precisely. The precision is usually a few meters, although in the case of using differential GPS, it could be centimeters. In order to detect or determine that position, a system of satellites that are orbiting in space is used. At least four satellites are needed to determine that position. The time it takes for the signal to get from your location to the satellite is measured and the distance each one is at is measured.



Another positioning system that we have talked about, which we also find in Android phones, is GLONASS. The acronym GLONASS comes from Global’naya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya System, words that translated from Russian come to mean something like Global Navigation Satellite System. It was initially developed in the former Soviet Union and is now owned by the Russian Federation.

It has a total of 31 satellites in orbit, although there are 24 that are operational. You can offer service to everyone, even if it is a Russian-owned service. Especially since 2010 we are seeing many Android phones that use this system or have support for it.

What is Beidou


Beidou, also spelled BeiDou in some cases, It is the Chinese alternative to GPS or Galileo or GLONASS. Powered by the government of China, it already has a total of 30 satellites in orbit, allowing them to operate around the world. This was the step they needed and that they have achieved in 2020.

It’s been a long time since we see some Android phones with this system, on Chinese brands as a whole (70% of phones in China are already supported). Although the fact that it has been achieved that it can be used as a global positioning system allows it to have more presence or more devices can make use of it.

How GPS, GLONASS and Galileo are different

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While both are positioning systems, there are a number of clear differences between the two. The main difference that we find between Galileo and GPS is that the former seeks to have five times greater precision in location. In addition, it seeks to offer better positioning in both horizontal and vertical measurements and work better at high latitudes. Since these are the weak points in systems like GPS.

For this to be so, the Galileo satellites orbit with a path that is slightly inclined towards the poles. In addition, in the case of this system, it is oriented to its civil use, so that the armies have no part or power in said project. It is therefore a project that is less invasive or problematic in terms of privacy. It is also a project that has more modern technology, since it has the ability to identify the road you are driving on, for example.

Galileo, being a system for civil use, has various applications today. One of the most important is that used in locate and rescue operations, since it allows reducing the positioning radius of the person being searched. Thanks to this system, it can be located within a radius of 5 kilometers in about 10 minutes.

The entry Galileo, GPS, GLONASS and Beidou: what they are and how they differ appears first in The Free Android.