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Android-based nav phone’s U.S.-bound

Apr 21, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

T-Mobile and Garmin-Asus announced a navigation-oriented smartphone that will run Android and include multi-touch capabilities. The “Garminfone” includes a 600MHz Qualcomm processor, 4GB of flash storage, a three megapixel camera, and GPS capabilities that work with or without cellular connectivity, according to the companies.

Though it's sporting new badging, the "Garminfone" appears to be a version of the Nuvifone A50 announced for the European market back in February. As such, it will become the first U.S. device from the Garmin-Asus joint venture to run Android (reportedly offered in version 1.6), with access to "thousands of applications from the Android Market."

A previous phone from personal navigation device (PND) vendor Garmin and consumer electronics manufacturer Asus was the Linux-based Nuvifone A60, which shipped in Taiwan last July and in the U.S. (on the AT&T network) in October. (Garmin-Asus has also offered Windows Mobile-based Nuvifones, the M10 and M10.) The switch to Android provides the Garminfone not only with Android Market access and a WebKit-based browser, but also with multi-touch, says Garmin-Asus.

The Garminfone
(Click to enlarge)

While many phones now have GPS receivers, T-Mobile and Garmin Asus tout the Garminfone's "integrated Garmin navigation experience," which includes "multiple positioning technologies and onboard maps." It's said the phone, which is bundled with the mounting hardware shown, includes applications that provide information on six million POIs (points of interest), real-time traffic, weather, estimated time arrival, and gas prices. A Garmin Voice Studio app allows customs to record voice directions from family and friends, the companies add.

Garmin-Asus says that thanks to pre-loaded maps, Garminfone users do not have to wait for map download, nor will they lose turn-by-turn, voice-prompted navigation even if they are out of cellular coverage. The device receives its location information from multiple sources including satellite, network-based, and terrestrial sources, thereby offering a better navigation experience than other smartphones, the compnany claims.

While it appears that the Garimfone's nav features will outshine the new, and highly-regarded Google Maps Navigation software available on the Droid, the Nexus One, and other Android phones, it remains to be seen if the advantage is sufficiently large to make a difference among buyers.

No mention was made of offering Google Maps Navigation, but the Garminfone is said to offer Google Maps with Street View and 3D landmark functions. The phone also supplies Google Search by voice, Gmail, Picasa, and Google calendar and contacts apps, says Garmin-Asus. Other features are said to include on-device sync with Microsoft Exchange.

According to Garmin-Asus, the Garminfone has a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with 480 x 320 resolution, a three megapixel camera (with autofocus and geotagging), and a microSD expansion slot. The device offers a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset, 256MB of RAM, and 4GB of flash storage, the company adds.

Cliff Pemble, president and COO of Garmin International, stated, "As the North American leader in personal navigation devices, Garmin sought to partner with the leading carrier of Android smartphones, T-Mobile USA, to bring our first Android device to market. Garmin's advanced, user-friendly navigation technology is used by millions of people every day, and the combination of Garmin's rich navigation services on the Android platform simply makes Garminfone a must-have device for families, individuals, travelers, commuters, and professionals alike."

Features and specifications released by Garmin-Asus for the Garminfone include:

  • Processor — Qualcomm MSM7227 clocked at 600MHz
  • Memory — 256MB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage
  • Expansion — microSD slot
  • Display — 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with 480 x 320 resolution
  • Camera — 3 megapixel autofocus with geotagging
  • Wireless:
    • WAN — GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz, GPRS EDGE Class 12, UMTS HSPA 2100/1700MHz, HSDPA Cat 8, 7.2 Mbps
    • WLAN — 802.11b/g
    • PAN — Bluetooth 2.1
  • Other I/O:
    • UBS 2.0 port
    • Headphone jack
  • Battery:
    • 1150mAh
    • Up to five hours talk time
    • Up to 10.4 days standby
  • Dimensions — 4.57 x 2.46 x 0.49 inches
  • Weight — 4.9 ounces

Further information

T-Mobile and Garmin-Asus said the Garminfone will be available "later this spring" for an undisclosed price. More information on the device may be found on the Garmin-Asus website, here.

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