Car Navigation Systems Comparison: Factory vs Smart Phone vs After Market vs Portable

On August 4th, 2015 / By

Close-up view of the MMI Scren in an Audi vehicle. Image used to illustrate the article - Car Navigation Systems Comparison: Factory vs Smart Phone vs After Market vs Portable.

The chart below outlines the pros and cons of the various car navigation systems currently available.

Factory Navigation Systems
Portable Navigation Systems
After Market Navigation Systems
Smartphone Navigation Systems
Integrated into the overall design and function of the vehicle. Typically a larger screen than other navigation systems offer.
The portable navigation systems are completely separate from your vehicle and will require some kind of mount to allow visibility. The screens can also be small. Also consider the fact that if you are on a very long journey you will need access to power to recharge the device.
Installed to integrate with the overall design of the vehicle. Some of the after market systems include features not found standard in some factory systems. Many offer DVD playback and include high resolution screens. After market systems allow for additional after market products like back up cameras and after market audio systems.
The smartphone navigation system will require a mount to allow visibility of the unit. You will also need a charging cord for long trips. Screen size varies dependent on the mobile device. Some units will be easier to see than others.
Covered by Factory (Audi and Porsche offer a 4 year/50,000 mile factory warranty) and CPO warranty (an additional two years of coverage/up to 100,000 miles, which ever occurs first).
Limited Warranty offered by the manufacturer. On average one year.
Limited Warranty offered by the manufacturer.
You likely have a limited manufacturer’s warranty on your phone and the ability to purchase extra protection through your provider.
Fully integrated into vehicle reducing the temptation and accessibility for thieves.
The portable nature of the device increases the temptation and accessibility for thieves. Even if you put the device away when the car is parked and locked the mount can be an indication to a thief that there is something in the vehicle worth stealing.
According to aftermarket car navigation systems are the second most likely stolen next to portable navigation systems. These units represent easy money for thieves and are not difficult to uninstall.
You likely will not leave your smartphone in your vehicle but if you do you are increasing the possibility of theft. Like portable navigation systems, your smart phone is incredibly portable and easy to access once the vehicle has been broken into. Smartphones are also easy money for a thief.
Resale Value
Fully integrated car navigation systems can improve resale and trade in value of the vehicle.
With portable devices relatively inexpensive and very accessible to consumers the resale value is diminished.
Dependent on the unit and the market. After market products can sometimes hurt the trade in or resale value, in other situations they can increase value. There is no way to predict the effect that the unit will have on the value of your vehicle since the market is always changing.
Navigation capabilities will not enhance resale value of phone and a smartphone will not enhance the resale value of your vehicle.
Most expensive navigation system option but with the increased price comes additional benefits.
Fairly inexpensive – Prices can range from $50 – $200.
Can cost as much as a factory system. After purchasing equipment there will be additional charges to have unit installed.
Navigation applications range in price but most smart phones are equipped with a navigation application preloaded on the phone. Mobile device mounts range in price but on average one can be obtained for around $20.
Typically involves buying a DVD or an activation code with the map updates. They are generally produced every couple of years and involve an appointment with the service department to install. To find out if there is an update available for your Audi or Porsche please contact the Audi or Porsche Parts Boutique.
Some models come with lifetime updates while others charge a fee. Updates can be done personally by hooking up the device to a computer and downloading the new maps, routes, and directions to the device.
Some providers provide free updates while others charge.
Updates will generally be free or included in the cost of the navigation application.
Due to the safety concerns you are highly discouraged from inputting an address while your vehicle is moving and in some factory navigation systems you are prevented from doing so while the vehicle is in motion.
Requires charging between uses and an additional mount.
Will not integrate with function of vehicle (for example steering wheel control).
Using GPS navigation on your phone is a series battery drain.
Safer option since the driver is less distracted and the screen is typically located in a position that allows referencing without pulling your eyes away from the road. Some of the Audi models even offer head up display where the image is reflected onto the lower part of the windshield allowing you to see both the map and the road in front of you.
While the location of the device can be customized to the user the suction cup or mount can fall causing distraction while driving. If the battery needs charging then there can be the complication of additional cords hanging in the way of the dash.
Safety is comparable to factory navigation system since the unit is integrated with the design of the vehicle. This results in a unit that is less distracting to the driver.
If the device is not in a mount the smart phone navigation device can be very distracting because you are taking your eyes away from the road to check the directions. Some driving applications do not provide voice guidance which increases the amount of time you spend looking at the map instead of the road.
No issues getting the map and driving information since it is stored in the vehicle. You are not relying on clear weather, good cell service, etc.
If the unit is dependent on satellite signal to provide navigation then hope you don’t need it on a cloudy or rainy day.
Maps and driving information is stored on the device and can be updated from the device.
Limited based on cell service.
Voice Activation
Often voice integration is accessible through steering wheel controls.
Does not offer voice activation.
Does not offer voice activation, however some of the devices integrate with smart phones possibly allowing for voice command through your mobile device.
Most smart phones allow for voice activation.

Further Information –


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This article was written by Heather Pridemore, Marketing Manager at Prestige Imports. Learn more about Heather on her LinkedIn Profile.

Posted in Vehicle Technology
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