The recent access to GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) phase observations on smart devices, enabled by Google through its Android operating system, opens the possibility to apply precise positioning techniques using off-the-shelf, mass-market devices. The target of this work is to evaluate whether this is feasible, and which positioning accuracy can be achieved by relative positioning of the smart device with respect to a base station. Positioning of a Google/HTC Nexus 9 tablet was performed by means of batch least-squares adjustment of L1 phase double-differenced observations, using the open source goGPS software, over baselines ranging from approximately 10 m to 8 km, with respect to both physical (geodetic or low-cost) and virtual base stations. The same positioning procedure was applied also to a co-located u-blox low-cost receiver, to compare the performance between the receiver and antenna embedded in the Nexus 9 and a standard low-cost single-frequency receiver with external patch antenna. The results demonstrate that with a smart device providing raw GNSS phase observations, like the Nexus 9, it is possible to reach decimeter-level accuracy through rapid-static surveys, without phase ambiguity resolution. It is expected that sub-centimeter accuracy could be achieved, as demonstrated for the u-blox case, if integer phase ambiguities were correctly resolved.
Keywords: GNSS; precise positioning; smart devices.