Nokia Maps hidden charges (Symbian OS)

When I first got my Nokia 5800, one feature I looked forward to was its sat-nav feature (originally called Ovi Maps) which was advertised as a free service for certain Nokia phones, including my model. It offered the ability to download maps to the phone so there would be no need to access the network for map data like map services on other phone brands. This all sounded great, that was until I started noticing unexpected data charges on my phone account even though I know I have not been using the web browser or using apps that access the network.

Nokia-5800This issue continued until one day I accidentally went into Nokia Maps, exited the app straight away and noticed the data call icon at the upper left. Even though I have Nokia Maps set to “Offline”, it still accesses the network. As the Map does not continue accessing the network (i.e. no KB clocked up in its meter) and the GPS locks on unusually quick, it seems like it is using assisted GPS. In the Location app, I have assisted GPS set to off and the Location app also takes a lot longer to lock on the GPS, so this means the Nokia Maps ignores this setting and there is no assisted GPS setting within the Nokia Maps app either.  This issue also occurs on my brother’s Nokia E52.

Nokia 5800 specific issues and possibly its cousin models:

After noticing the charges, I thought if I stop using Nokia Maps, then I’ll no longer get charged for data. Well, this Nokia 5800 model and possibly its cousin models make it too easy to accidentally launch the Maps app, something which happened to me many times, costing me a day of data access each time (O2 Ireland prepay charges €1 whether I access a mere 5KB or download a hefty 40MB.)

Home screen App: By default, the Maps app is shown on the home screen which can be accidentally touched. To overcome this, I changed this icon to the calculator app, since if I accidentally launch the calculator, at least it does not automatically start accessing data.

Maps in menu: In the menu, the Maps app is the second listing from the bottom (in list view mode). When I scroll to the bottom of the menu to get to Applications, the Applications entry is now shown as the second listing from the bottom. Getting into Applications (to access Clock, Camera, etc.) is no problem, except when the phone has just been switched on. If I power on the phone and go into the menu, scroll down and touch Applications, the menu will suddenly scroll up as I touch, so instead of Applications coming up, it launches Maps and there goes another €1 down the drain.

How to avoid the hidden data charges:

The only way to prevent Nokia Maps from accessing the network is to prevent the phone from being able to make a data connection, so here are three ways:

Set the phone to Offline – Press the power button and select Offline. This completely prevents the phone from accessing the network and thus prevents Nokia Maps from making a data connection. This is also useful if you don’t want to take any calls while driving. Just remember to set the phone back online once finished getting directions.  It’s a pity that the phone does not have a “Data Offline” feature that would allow calls, but not data.

Put the SIM in another phone – This basically lets you use the Nokia as a dedicated GPS and again without the data charges. By placing the SIM in another phone, this also lets you continue to make/receive calls also. If you later upgrade to another phone model, there is no need to get a sat-nav model, since the Nokia can continue being used as a dedicated sat-nav, since it doesn’t cost anything to download map updates if done over Wi-Fi.  In fact, I plan continue using my Nokia 5800 as a dedicated GPS after upgrading to a Sony Erricson Ray.

Disable data on your account – If you don’t need data access on the move, some network providers let you disable data access on your account. With data access disabled, this also prevents Nokia Maps from making data calls without needing to set the phone offline. In the past, one had to ask their mobile provider to enable data access, but unfortunately now it’s the other way around and some mobile providers don’t offer the ability to disable data access either, especially on a prepay account.

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