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Russia surprised as Apple uses Glonass in new iPhone

The secret is out and making Russia proud: pop culture and geek tech icon Apple has picked Russia’s Glonass navigation system to run alongside GPS in its iPhone 4S models that hit stores this month.

The news was not exactly hidden by the California-based firm. A scan through the iPhone “specs” page on the Apple website shows Glonass sitting conspicuously next to GPS in the global positioning column.

But the news has created a sensation on the Russian Internet and made the front page of the respected Vedomosti business daily on Thursday.

“If the iPhone 4S really does have Glonass navigation,” the paper said in a disbelieving tone, “this would be the first time the Russian system reached the world market.”

It then quoted a company spokesman as saying that the phones became 50 percent more reliable with the Russian invention on board.

Vedomosti said basic Glonass documentation has the same open access as GPS. The basic global positioning system is also being honed for more precise military use not available to consumers.

The Glonass system has struggled through many delays and cost overruns that was additionally hurt last year by the loss of three satellites in a botched launch.

Glonass is less precise than its rival but relies on a different set of satellites that could work in some cities where the US system is less effective.