Troubleshooting GPS issues on phone camera

Has anyone experienced weird issues with phone cameras randomly giving inaccurate GPS locations? Not sure if it is a make/OS issue but I have a Pixel 3A and it randomly will geotag my photos with locations that are slightly off or sometimes by several miles (Several observations have been tagged in the middle of a town on Martha’s Vineyard, a nearby island that I’ve yet to iNat from). If anyone has had these issues and has been successful at resolving them, I’d appreciate a heads up! It’s really hard to keep track of when it happens and I’d feel bad if a fellow iNatter went to check something I’d submitted only to have inadvertently been led astray!

this has sort of been discussed in lots of other threads in this forum. you may want to check out some of those (ex. Improving Location Accuracy on observations - General - iNaturalist Community Forum).

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I have had that occasionally, sometimes even when I’m running viewranger to keep GPS on (which I’ll do it I’m taking lots of photos for iNat). It’s usually been less than a mile but still obviously wrong.

If you use iNat to take the photos it will record the location accuracy too. The trouble with that is that you can’t crop the photo after taking it. I’ll also often take multiple photos then select the best one when I get home and can see the screen better.

Thanks, I’ll have to peruse a bit more, most of the responses I saw were specific to the app and as @zabdiel mentioned and I failed to mention specifically, I use the phone camera app (and not the iNat app) when I’m out in the field. I like doing this because it’s fast and doesn’t take me away from nature or the people I’m spending time with for long, as well as the fact that I like to reference field guides when I get home so I can ID best I can before uploading.

My phone doesn’t even give a location it sucks.

It happens to me occasionally. I believe it’s a factor of how well your phone is connecting to cell towers, is that correct? My cell service isn’t bad but it’s not the best service for my state. If I’m in the metro area it’s fairly good but I can get locations that are off when I’m in nooks of wilder or more remote areas. Out state, the location accuracy is much more spotty.

I was getting a fair number of photos that didn’t have any location attached to them until I read a tip in one the previous threads : that was, upon opening the camera app, wait a few moments for the camera app to access the location. That tip of waiting resolved a great number of my ‘no locations’ but I’m not sure that’s the issue you’re having.

It can be a pain not to have the geotag on the photo but I always add more info to the text part of the location. Instead of ‘city, county, state’ - I add the park or reserve name when pertinent - which is almost always is for me. So, if I open up the location and it’s wrong - I can always go in and at least set a circled area where I saw it. It helps if it’s amongst a string of photos and the other photos have the correct location. That keeps me from having a radically incorrect location.

btw, I also take all my photos either with a Canon (no geo tag) or my phone camera as well. I don’t use the iNat app.

Mobile GPS is far from great, so yes, you’ll have eventually wrong spots, sometimes very wrong, so keep an eye on that or download a GPS app, also what helps is try opening Google maps and using GPS button there, it’ll help your phone to not set your location kilometres away at least for some time.

Depending on the make or age of the cell phone or GPS, it will always take a “short” time to pick up the satellite signals. This can be 1 minute or 10 minutes on the older phone. The signals from the cell tower is there to speed things up. So if I just taken my phone out and take the picture of this running lion or rare bird i have to assume the gps will be wrong. It may take a few minutes. So start taking photos before hand. It helps if I download the images and pinpointing them on a map the first one or two are always just outside the border of the property or the wrong side of the road. This also applied to a dedicated Canon camera GPS. On certain high altitudes with clouds it just taking a long (10 minutes) time. This GPS has a little LED flashing to indicate the accuracy.

If your photos don’t have gps date (or inaccurate gps data) then it’s possible to add the tags if you’ve been tracking your location. You can do this with apps like Strava & Viewranger. If you then download/export as gpx you can use a tool like exiftool to add geotabs. I do this with photos I take on my old camera.

There’s a tutorial thread with lots of discussion:

Geotagging Photos

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Thanks all for your informed responses, I might try using an app if I notice it more and see if it doesn’t sap my battery life. Robert, now you have me scared for my GP-E2’s accuracy as well, yikes!

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Nate, there is no issue with the accuracy of the GP-E2. It is very accurate once set. I am just checking it. In addition to the initial time it is taking to get to a “3D” satellite reception (no altitude) is the position update. It can be set to every second to every 5 mins. The last is a potential increase in error depending on your movement. Rather take extra batteries.

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Thanks Robert, that’s reassuring given the price point of the little trinket! I’m not complaining though, I love it for making iNatting with a DSLR so much easier!

And yes, accuracy high with spare batteries on hand always :+1: