I could go on about how similar to the iPhone this phone is, but I won’t, I’ll simply summarize it by saying that I have an iPod Touch, and I love it, but I think this Garmin Nuvifone would more than fill the smartphone void in my digital life. It has a proprietary Garmin OS, HSDPA, Quad-band GSM, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 3.5” touchscreen (not sure if its multi-touch, but that definitely is the same size screen as the iPhone).
The interface is completely touch based, it has 4 primary functions, web browsing, messaging, phone calls, and navigation, and from the sounds of it, it does them all quite well. It is also heavily integrated with Google, specifically in relation to navigational tasks.
For example, you can search Google Maps for a location or type of business and it will automatically sort the listings by distance from where you are. You can also use Google’s Panoramio image sharing site and go to the coordinates where a geo-tagged picture was taken.
This phone itself has both a still image and a video camera with the images automatically being geo-tagged. Once the image is taken and geo-tagged, you can send it to someone else with one of these phones and they can navigate to where you are, or you can save the picture and navigate back to the spot from the picture.
On the GPS side, other than being able to use Google maps, you also get access to Garmin Online which will get you real-time traffic updates, fuel prices, stock prices, sports scores, news reports, local events, and weather forecasts. Also, since its from Garmin, it obviously has its own set of GPS maps built in with your choice of North America or Eastern and Western Europe, or you can have both. Another nifty feature is that when you are talking on the phone, and you get in your vehicle and need navigation assistance, you don’t have to hang up, just dock the phone and it will automatically bring up the navigation software and transfer your call to hands-free mode. Lastly, on the GPS side, provided you use the automotive dock, whenever you park your vehicle, and remove the phone from the dock, it automatically records its location so that you can be navigated back to your car, which should be helpful in larger cities where you have to park a good distance away from your destination, or after a concert where you have to rummage through a huge parking lot to find your vehicle.
The phone also has email support. It can also play MP3 and MPEG4/AAC media files, I presume it will have the most sophisticated microSD/HC card slot, or possibly some built in memory, or both, but right now microSDHC cards are topping out at 12GB with 16GB coming soon, so that would satisfy my musical needs.
Two more things on the GPS topic, first off, there is a Where Am I function that tells you exactly where you are (coordinates) and lists the closest streets while also offering directions to the closest hospital, police station, or gas station. The second point is that it works almost exactly like a regular Garmin Nuvi navigation unit with great maps, voice directions, and everything being controlled via touchscreen.
There are a limited number of buttons on the side of the phone, but everything is controlled by the touchscreen. No word on price or release date other than that it should be available some time in the third quarter this year, that means you and me both have time to start saving up, then again, if Apple releases a new iPhone with either GPS or 3G, I’ll probably be forced to go that route instead.