Xiaomi Mi 8 Review GPS GALILEO Accuracy

by 6. August 2018Garmin GPS | News Reviews | Outdoor Fitness14 comments

Xiaomi Mi 8, the world’s first Smartphone with dual-frequency GNSS – compared to the usual L1 single-frequency devices. The Mi 8 comes equipped with a Broadcom BCM47755 chip, being capable of a position accuracy within some decimeters. The Broadcom chip computes simultaneously the frequencies of two GNSS: GALILEO E1/E5a and GPS L1/L5. The additional use of the E5a/L5 frequencies reduces particularly the effect of multipathing (= reflection of satellite signals by buildings and cliffs), therefore ensuring a better accuracy.

Update: The latest Mi 8 Pro features also L1/L5-Dualband-GPS!

Update 15 Dec. 2018

The latest update to Android 9 (China ROM MIUI Version PEACNFI) brings CF values to the Xiaomi Mi 8. You can see it in the “GPSTest” App (GPS: L1/L5; GALILEO: E1/E5a).

Xiaomi Mi 8, CF values multi-band GNSS

Broadcom BCM47755 – GNSS frequencies:

  • BeiDou B1 (China)
  • Galileo E1 (Europe)
  • Galileo E5a
  • GLONASS L1 (Russia)
  • GPS L1 C/A (USA)
  • GPS L5
  • QZSS L1 (Japan)
  • QZSS L5

(provided by: Broadcom)

Since we are curious about the GPS accuracy of the Xiaomi Mi 8 (but also interested in the optical performance) we tested the Chinese smartphone in the Bavarian Alps while hiking. Especially tour 1 provided a challenging environment with a deep valley, cliffs and forest.

Xiaomi Mi 8 – Our Pragmatic Testing

  • Xiaomi Mi 8 (version: MIUI | Stable): Attached to the shoulder strap of our backpack for a perfect GPS reception. The track was recorded with the Android app Locus Map Pro (setting: every 10 m or 10 s).
  • Garmin GPSMAP 64s: Placed in the upper pocket of the backpack with the GPS antenna upwards, ensuring a perfect GPS reception. Settings: GPS + GLONASS, track log every 10 m.
  • Garmin Oregon 700: Placed at the shoulder strap of our backpack, ensuring a perfect GPS reception. Settings: GPS + GLONASS, automatic track log.
  • Garmin fenix 5x: Wrist worn with a limited satellite reception (dynamically moving arm, shaded by the body, antenna not always facing to the sky). Setup: GPS + GALILEO, track log in intelligent mode.

Xiaomi Mi 8 – What did we find?

Wow – the accuracy of the Mi 8 track log can be compared to our reference GPS device, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s and to the Garmin Oregon 700. The GPSMAP 64s accuracy is a tad better, but you can see the differences only when you have some knowledge of the trail. The track of the fenix 5x from tour 1 shows – as expected – some strong shift, especially in the deep valley with cliffs and forest.

But we have some questions and remarks:

  • How would a single frequency smartphone compare?
  • Can the Locus Map Pro app compute the additional E5a/L5 signals?
  • How does the antenna design of the Xiaomi Mi 8 affects the reception (multifunctional smartphone compared to specialised GPS devices); the antenna has a significant impact on the signal strength.
  • Has the low amount of available E5a/L5 satellites an impact on the accuracy?
    1. GALILEO*: Maximum of three satellites with medium to high signal quality (a bad scenario especially for the fenix 5x), only two dual-frequency satellites (GALILEO will be fully operational in 2020)
    2. GPS: Maximum of two dual-frequency satellites with medium to high signal quality.
  • However, we are really pleased by the Xiaomi Mi 8 GPS & GALILEO accuracy – stay tuned for more details!

Aufzeichnungsmodus: * alle 10 m oder 10 s, ** alle 10 m, *** intelligent

1. Xiaomi Mi 8*, Garmin GPSMAP 64s**, Garmin fenix 5x***

Screenshots: Locus Map Pro & GPSTest Android apps, screenshot locations see map.

  • Circles: GPS (USA)
  • Squares: GLONASS (Russia)
  • Triangles: Beidou (China)
  • Rhombus: Galileo (Europe)
  • signal quality: red – low, yellow – middle, green – high)
  • Height of bars: SNR (signal to noise ratio)

Satellites with two frequencies appear twice in the row with the satellite numbers. The accuracy of “16 m” might be a Mi 8 firmware error.

Update 14th of August 2018 – New ROM

The “16 m” bug is solved with software-update MIUI 9.6 Stable (OEACNFD).

Xiaomi Mi 8 Update
Xiaomi Mi 8 Update GPS accuracy
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