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I’m the kind of driver who uses Google Maps to navigate around my hometown. I have a poor sense of direction and never quite trust myself that I know the best route. Having just arrived in Malta with a rental car generously provided by the , you can only imagine how overwhelmed I was at the idea of not just driving on the left alongside , but also navigating sans technology. I was getting so stressed at the thought I briefly considered turning down the rental car and getting around by bus instead! But in what I can only describe as divine intervention, I was saved from inevitable roadside meltdowns by , who ed me about testing their offline GPS system app. Um, yes please.

Sygic works by downloading and storing maps on your smartphone for offline use — so you can have a fully functioning GPS with no internet connection. When I started researching the app for this review, I grew more and more surprised I had never heard of it before. Launched in 2004, it didn’t take long for Sygic to become the most downloaded offline navigation app of all times with over 30 million unique users! And I was about to become one of them.

Shotgun selfies made possible by Sygic

Features

Free map updates are available several times a year, and unless otherwise noted, the app license lasts for life. The main screen display shows the route ahead, the local speed limit and your own speed, the distance and time until destination, and your expected arrival time. Some of my favorite features include an alert that beeps when you’ve topped the local speed limit, and a warning when there is a speed camera ahead (a common problem in Europe!) This app is truly global — directions are available in ten languages.

I also loved that you can drag and drop the route easily, which came in handy when I occasionally couldn’t get the app to register my destination (see below). You can also plan multi-stop routes and plan to avoid tolls and highways. Quick links allow easy access to the nearest parking and petrol stations.

There are also premium features you can upgrade to for a fee:

• Heads up Navigation: This is by far my favorite premium feature of the app. Anyone who has tried to juggle keeping their eyes on the road and reading their GPS will appreciate it — you can lie your phone down on your dashboard and the directions and route are projected onto the windshield in front of you! So clever.

• Traffic Updates: Traffic updates are available but require internet connection, which to me is a moot feature because if I had internet connection I would simply use Google Maps.

• Celebrity Voices: I laughed when I saw the option to upgrade to celebrity voices. While I’m not a huge Simpsons fan I think it would be kind of fun to have Snoop Dog guiding me around Europe.

• Premium Speed Cameras: For an additional monthly fee the app can warn you whenever a new speed trap appears on your route. This unfortunately also requires internet connection, because it would be a fabulous feature for someone like me who has a penchant for racking up tickets.

Design

Because of its numerous features, Sygic has a complex navigation system. While it took a bit of getting used to, it’s intuitive enough. The maps for Malta were basic and not the fancy 3D ones advertised by the app, but that may be because it’s a less visited destination.

Price

You can download by continent, by country or by the whole world. Some example prices are below, and reflect the current summer sale of 40% off ( free !)

North America – $33.99

Europe – $41.99

Australia and New Zealand – $36.99

Thailand – $30.99

World – $69.99 (or $16.99 for one month)

You can also take advantage of several upgrade options.

Head up display – $10.99

Speed Cameras – $10.99 (or $2.79 for one month)

Celebrity voices – $4.99

Traffic updates – $16.99-27.99 per year

Room for Improvement

I did occasionally run into some bugs using Sygic. Sometimes the app’s speed limit didn’t match what was posted on the road, and once I got an error message when I tried to navigate to somewhere I’d been before.

The biggest issue I encountered, however, was that often the search function didn’t turn up the destination I was looking for, even when it was something basic like a post office or a beach that I could clearly see when I searched the map manually. It was simple enough to work around this in most cases — in the beach example, I manually selected the road closest to the beach and had the app navigate to that road. However, if I had been totally offline I wouldn’t have been able to find the post office that was right around the corner from me.

Also, note that like any navigation app this one does use a heavy amount of battery, however I planned ahead and had no issues — I slapped my on my phone and brought along one of those $5 cheapie car chargers that plugs into the cigarette lighter as well.

Conclusion

Without question, this app has vastly improved my time in Europe. Being able to remove the stress of getting lost from the equation while driving around Malta and knowing I’ll be able to find my way around by foot in Belgium has been an absolute weight lifted off my shoulders. There are certainly a few bugs and limitations to this app that I hope they’ll keep improving, but in the meantime having an offline GPS and map system is a new must for me in my international travels, especially when I’ll be driving a rental car. This one was kind of a game changer for me.

 How do you navigate — especially on the road — when you’re traveling abroad?

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Download Sygic on your and on your . I was provided with a free access code in order to test this app and compensated for my time in doing so. Find more travel app reviews here!

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72 Comments...
  • Scott
    July 17 2014

    How interesting! So how are you finding driving around in Malta? When I was there I took the buses everywhere, except for a few tours that we did, and that was fine for a week, but if you’re going to be there longer, I can definitely see the advantages of a car for exploring.

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      It’s definitely not as bad as I imagined! Some parts are stressful… the roads can be super narrow and people just barrel right down them, but for the most part the biggest issue is finding parking in high season 🙂 So far, so good!

  • RAJESH PANDIT
    July 17 2014

    Thank you Meihoukai for this information. I had been in fact looking for an off line map/navigation system as I had few issues while in Europe and this would certainly be very helpful in my next trip.

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      I would have been lost without it… hope it helps, Rajesh!

  • Clay
    July 17 2014

    That’s a cool app. I still get a little stubborn over buying a one dollar app, so I may need to have to get pretty lost before I buy it. But i’m sure it works swimmingly.
    Clay recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      Ha, I know what you mean but I think of this actually less as an app and more as a GPS that conveniently lives in your phone, so one less thing to carry! Bonus 🙂

  • Josh
    July 17 2014

    I’ve tried windshield navigation apps before most were not useful unless it was dark out. How did this app work for you during the day? Clearly visible or just barely?
    Josh recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      I actually haven’t tried any of the add-on features yet, but that’s a good thing to note! I’ve just been using it on my lap and listening to the spoken directions or kind of handheld, with half my hand on the wheel (no laws against mobile phone use here while driving!)

  • Justine
    July 17 2014

    I am the absolute worst when it comes to sense of direction. Honestly, I get lost going in a straight line. This app sounds great. It’s always difficult being in a foreign city, without internet, and trying to find your way. I’ve driven a motorbike on the left side of the road, but I’ve never dared to drive a car. You’re so brave! How did it go?
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      I feel you on the sense of direction thing — it’s just so not in my wheelhouse. Driving on the left has been okay! I think I really psyched myself out about it but it was worse in my head than in reality. I actually used to do it in Cayman, but that feels like a million years ago and I didn’t drive THAT often there. Glad I got over my fear!

  • An app like this might actually make me think of ditching public transit! I’d be completely lost without map apps.
    Candice @ The Let’s Go Ladies recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      Seriously. I am ADDICTED to my Google Maps app at home. Even if it’s a route I’ve driven a million times, I always plug it in to see the time, traffic, etc. When people try to give my directions I just completely zone out, ha.

  • Sofie
    July 17 2014

    We used the free trial in Canada. Absolutely loved it. I think the trial was for ten days, so you could give that a go before purchasing.
    Sofie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      Good to know Sofie! Thanks for the tip.

  • Erika
    July 17 2014

    Thanks for the info! This seems like a great app, especially for traveling abroad when you might not have internet access! I will definitely hold on to this info for my next trip!!
    Erika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      Let us know how it goes, Erika. And good luck!

  • Ron
    July 17 2014

    I have been using Garmin for over a decade. It uses Global Satellites and works very well in North America. It is free once you cover the cost of the unit starting at $60. My parents spoke highly of the UK map so it likely works well in many/most regions of the world.

    There are many Apps but Satellite GPS systems work anywhere regardless of internet access. They do loose signal if you are under thick cover, the rain forest for example. They require line of sight access to the sky.

    Nice review! Technology is a great tool for all. It was not that long ago that tools like the internet, GPS, cell phones, and PCs did not exist!

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      My parents always try to give me detailed written directions, or, shock and horror, LOOK AT MAPS before long drives. I’m like, yawn, where’s my iPhone?! Ha. Amazing how things change! I can only imagine what will exist for the next generation…

  • Rick
    July 17 2014

    Smartphones need cellular access to compute their location. Google or Apple will also use data infor for the actual map. If you go beyond or out of cellular range it will not work. So you still must be operating in a somewhat civilized area. You can use a Garmin or other GPS device on Mt Killmanjaro if you wish since no cell coverage necessary.

    • Peter
      July 18 2014

      Rick, you dont need cell coverage to use navigation like Sygic on your phone, just GPS…you’can use Sygic on Mt Kilimanjaro as well, no sim card necessary

      • Meihoukai
        July 18 2014

        Good to know! I wasn’t sure about that so thanks for the update Peter.

      • Rick
        July 18 2014

        But Peter phones do not imploy GPS and do not get their information from satellites as Garmin or Tom Tom do. They get their position info from cell tower triangulation. No cell service, no position info on phones.

        • Gabriel
          July 21 2014

          @Rick: actually they do have GPS. Depends on the phone and on a kind of a service you’re using but most modern phones have GPS receiver

          • Johan
            May 13 2015

            hi Gabriel

            This was just the info I was looking for. If this app could give me directions etc when there’s no cellular reception then I don’t need a dedicated Garmin etc.

            Glad you asked Rick.

            Great post Meihoukai.

          • Meihoukai
            May 16 2015

            Thank you Johan! Glad you found what you were looking for!

  • Nathalie
    July 18 2014

    We love Tomtom 😀 Our US california road trip was so much better with it 🙂

    You are coming to Belgium? Come and visit 😀 Geel is just “so” beautiful..not..but the people (us :D) are nice 😉

    N

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      I just had to look up what Geel is! 🙂 Unfortunately I won’t be making it near Antwerp on this trip but perhaps Belgium will charm me enough for a return visit!

  • The Guy
    July 18 2014

    This sounds like a useful app yet has some of the initial bugs I suffer with my Tom Tom! So nothing too major to overcome.

    These types of apps are becoming more and more frequent. A few months ago I reviewed a similar one which didn’t require an internet signal when in use.

    As for driving on the left v right. This is something I switch between frequently and to be honest once you’ve had a go at it then it is not difficult at all. Most people make a big deal about it in fear yet it really is easy to adjust.

    I think the bigger issue is being somewhere you don’t know. In the old days we’d rely on written instructions which can be quite dangerous. Especially trying to read in the dark whilst driving. GPS systems are a big advance in safety and efficiency!
    The Guy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 18 2014

      You are so right about driving on the left. I was SO stressed and anxious about it and I got here and was like, erm, yep, not a huge deal 🙂 The bigger issue for me is always walking out into the street having looked in the wrong direction!

  • Nathalie
    July 18 2014

    No problem 🙂 Enjoy the ride – and if it does charm you enough, you definitely got people here 😀

  • Camels & Chocolate
    July 19 2014

    Uh, why couldn’t you have posted this BEFORE I got home from Europe?!? I wasted so much data using Google Maps that failed repeatedly!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2014

      Argh, that’s the worst! Sorry our cosmic timing wasn’t aligned 🙂 This app has been my lifeline on this trip. Definitely consider it for your next one!

  • Uma
    July 20 2014

    Seems pretty handy, speed camera alert and all … but the celebrity voices add-on … LOL. Some people have interesting preferences 😛
    Uma recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      Yeah, I personally think I’d find that a bit distracting ha but I would laugh at Snoop telling me to do a U-turn!

  • Lauren D
    July 20 2014

    My favorite easter egg/trick is the “okay maps” feature in Google Maps, I use it whenever i travel abroad. You can cache sections of maps and use them offline! It can store quite a few cities (I’m pretty sure I stored most of Scotland). I don’t think you can do driving directions, but helpful if you have a co-pilot!

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      Nice! I had never heard of that before but someone mentioned it to me on Facebook. That would be super helpful for cities where you plan to walk, though I still think I’d lean towards this app for driving (especially solo). Now I just need an offline HopStop… or does that already exist too?!

  • Cortney
    July 26 2014

    Haha, after living in and driving all over Albania for a year, I’m so curious to see how that thing would actually work there. All other GPS systems we tried couldn’t pick up anything. I’m surprised it’s on the list- that’s really impressive!

    Also, after two years of pay as you go burner phones, the idea of a smart phone projecting a map on my windshield sounds a bit like witchcraft.

    • Meihoukai
      July 28 2014

      I’m guessing it would look similar to the Malta maps? I’ve used the app a bit for walking in Belgium and wow — it’s much more advanced. 3D renderings of the buildings around you and everything!

  • Kristen Noelle
    September 3 2014

    This looks great. All these app reviews are so helpful. Can I suggest a “travel apps” topic section for the new site (if not already thought of)!?
    Kristen Noelle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 3 2014

      Already taken care of 🙂 Great minds think alike!

  • Hassan Khan
    October 21 2014

    Amazing app this is… and the credits goes to developers…

  • Bruce
    November 17 2014

    There are walking/cycling routes available in GPX files for download. Can these be downloaded and incorporated into Sygic’s GPS on an iPhone?

    • Meihoukai
      November 17 2014

      Hey Bruce, I’m not sure about that — but I’ll shoot your comment to the app developers and see what they say!

  • William
    January 20 2015

    The truth is the last good version of Sygic was v14.3.2. They then came out with a new redesigned version removed many of the features. You can not get newer maps if you do not upgrade. The downside of phone gps apps is that it runs the battery hot. If you have been using the older version and up upgrade you lose all your saved items. To keep your old version always turn off your auto update. Take the time to read the user info on the Google Store and there blog before you install this new version. There are many good gps apps out there, but do you homework.

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Thanks for your input William — I’m sure it will be helpful to other app users.

  • Meihoukai
    January 29 2015

    Hello Meihoukai. I have had the North America maps installed on my Android for a couple of years now. I totally love it! I recently navigated to Canada from NJ. However, I had to purchase it on my iPad since it was a different OS. Luckily Sygic is currently running a promotion which ends on 2/2. I got 60% off on the World Lifetime License. I paid only $40 for the normally $100 maps. My question to you is do you think it is worth it for me to purchase the World Lifetime License on my Android for this bargain of a price, although I will in a sense be repurchasing the North America maps (there is no upgrade discount if you have owned the maps more than 60 days)? I am leaning to YES because my Android device is actually my phone and is more mobile than the iPad. Thoughts? Thanks in advance…

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Hey Meihoukai! Great sale. Well I guess only you know which device you travel with more often. If you don’t think you’ll be hauling your iPad around, it might be worth it to go for it on your phone as well — I think only you can answer that 🙂

  • Syed_Jahanzaib
    February 2 2015

    I do agree that the last known good version is 14.3.2 and it still works great, strangely it have updated POI as compared to latest 14.7.x series. Search feature in 14.3.2 is lot easier and have more details to enter. Many good known features have been removed in new UI.
    Syed_Jahanzaib recently posted..

  • Don
    February 14 2015

    I am planning to get a smartphone and gps app for navigation on my motorcycle. I will use bluetooth earphones under my helmet because I anticipate the screen being hard to see in bright daylight. Does anyone have a recommendation as to what kind of phone (I use Verizon) would be best and is Sygic the way to go? I have a TomTom for in car but it doesn’t have bluetooth and is almost impossible to see on the handlebars.

    • Meihoukai
      February 15 2015

      Interesting question Don — hope someone can offer some insight!

      • Don
        February 19 2015

        Knock knock–is there anyone here? This can’t be the only forum since the beginning of the internet in which nobody has an opinion! I would really appreciate hearing about your experience with Sygic to help me make an informed decision. Thanks

        • Meihoukai
          February 24 2015

          Hey Don, this actually isn’t a forum, it’s just a fairly old post on a travel blog — while it is a popular one, you won’t see the same level of discussion or number of comments on an app here as you would in, say, a tech forum. Best of luck finding the information you are looking for!

  • Thanos
    March 16 2015

    The downside I face is the slow response. I mist turns because of the slow update of the position of my car on the map. It’s like takes time to update the map before return the position of the car. Its even more obvious if you mist a turn suggested by the sygic. Tomtom has a super fast response but the 3d of sygic especially on the mountains is amazing.

    • Meihoukai
      March 17 2015

      Hm, I didn’t have that problem in Malta, but perhaps there was just a great signal there.

  • David
    April 12 2015

    I agree that the older version was great and was very easy to use.
    The new one, despite it’s “improvements” is horrible, more difficult to use, doesn’t find locations via search and generates some awful routes, which you can’t manually change, unlike the old one.
    The answer if you have bought it is to pester Sygic and they will give you a link to download the much better, older version.

  • Wajdi
    April 23 2015

    The new version of Sygic Navigator (15.++.++ ) on android mobile phones is very bad because:
    1- The use of home number in the address field has been removed, which was available in the older versions.
    2- It consumes too much power and deplete the battery very fast, It was not so in the older versions.
    3- Crashes frequently for no cause.

    i was happy with it during the past three years, but now it is bad. Hoping they can fix these faults.

    • Meihoukai
      April 23 2015

      Sorry to hear that Wajdi! Indeed, hopefully they can incorporate all this feedback into the next version.

  • andrew
    May 12 2015

    Updated Sygic to v 15.0.9. The previous version was not very user friendly but the new one is so bad that I’m looking around to buy another GPS software. I spend 20 minutes and I couldn’t make it to ‘guide’ me to an address. It’s beyond me why Sygic, instead tweaking the software, makes a revolution where everything goes OUT…I hit “Navigate to..” icon and it displays Drive (goole), dropbox, gallery (foto in my phone) and Photos (in my phone). The only icon on the screen-an ‘arrow’ shows my position on the map but that’s all – no guide like the standard Violet path! I’d like revert to previous version but I don’t think it’s possible!

  • James
    December 5 2015

    It’s a good review but the app has serious flaws. Every other address I looked up it says “Entered house number is out of range. The nearest is ###”… seriously if I just wanted to get close to my destination I could ask a guy standing at the corner of a street (not really but you get my point). I like the moving map but whats the point of having a gps if it can’t find where you want to go. And I have tried other apps and real garmin gps units which find addresses easily. On the other hand coPilot gps is a little uglier in looks but at least it can get me to my destination without any problems. So paying 30 some bucks for a gps that doesn’t work is not something I would not recommend.

    • Meihoukai
      December 6 2015

      Hm, interesting. I didn’t have that issue in Malta but I’m sure every location and destination is different. Thanks for your input!

  • rebelio
    January 3 2016

    Hi everybody and happy new year!

    I am an unconditional fan of Sygic. Travelling in Russia, Italy, France, Turkey, etc. I found that if I fully rely on Sygic I will reach destination more fast than an ordinary map.

    The head up display is just fantastic. The radar

    Also : believe it or not, it works it a plane. See the video :

    Take care and… don’t forget your Sygic!

    • Meihoukai
      January 4 2016

      Thanks for adding your two cents, Rebelio!

  • Thomas
    February 11 2016

    I am on the fence deciding whether or not to install the APP on my Apple iPhone 6S – 16GB
    1st questions, do I have enough storage space?

    2nd question, how does the premium Dashcam and Head-up work? What is the mechanism that projects onto the windshield when using head-up? Does my Apply iPhone work as the Dashcam?

    Thanks

    • Meihoukai
      February 16 2016

      Hey Thomas, I can’t help with any of these questions but hopefully an in-the-know reader will chime in with some info! Good luck!

  • Irina
    March 15 2016

    Sygic is a crap navigation system. If you will not spend any money on it after 7 days you have installed it, you will have no use of it. It doesn’t even match the signs on motorway junctions. It shows only on what road you are. Another app to drain your money out.

    • Meihoukai
      March 17 2016

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, Irina! Thanks for sharing though.

  • Yasmeen
    August 25 2016

    I used an older trial version of Sygic a few years ago and it worked just fine. I decided to buy the full version but it freezes and then turns off and restarts my phone when I exit the app.

    Apparently it is a known bug with the Galaxy S3’s.

    Sygic support was not helpful in resolving the issue. I can downgrade to an older version, but then the map updates will no longer work.

    Has anyone else encountered this and found a solution to it? I love my phone and I won’t be replacing it until it’s dead. 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      August 25 2016

      I’m an iPhone girl, but hopefully someone else can help you out! Good luck Yasmeen!

  • David
    October 4 2016

    Total rubbish. For malta just a grey or black map. Waste of money i send them email but the reply was not effective.

    • Meihoukai
      October 14 2016

      Sorry to hear that David. I found it super useful in Malta and am not sure how I’d have gotten around without it.