Hands-on With The Garmin Nuvifone: It Has A Killer UI

I just had a hands on with the Garmin Nuvifone here at the CommunicAsia conference in Singapore. While the phone didn’t yet have a GPS connection or internet access, because it’s still in a prototype stage, it’s definitely an impressive device. Its smooth screen has a texture that reminded me a lot of old-school big screen TVs–I couldn’t tell if it was glass or plastic, but it was soft and non-reflective. It’s obvious that the device is very GPS-centric, with tons of icons for applications to help you find nearby points of interest. The QWERTY keypad looked to be spacious enough for easy typing, and it has auto-word complete on it, so when I typed “happy” the word was already up on the screen by the time I got ot “ha.” I did notice that the phone had a few kinks that needed to be worked out: some applications didn’t completely load and I was left looking at a blank screen. Two of the units on display were frozen, too, and I managed to freeze a third by attempting to launch the camera. Read on for another photo and more information. Here’s how the UI works: there’s a top row of icons dedicated to calling, searching, and viewing maps. Under that, there’s a full menu of icons that you can stream across with the swipe of a finger. Those apps include things like SMS, Google Search, your e-mail, multimedia player. It’s an easy to understand layout. Aside from that, there’s also your standard homescreen, which you can apply a wallpaper to and view calendar events or more. Some of the Nuvifone’s features include Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE connectivity, as well as tri-band 3.5G HSDPA data access. That said, if we do see this phone in the states, it will likely show up either on AT&T or as an unlocked phone that people can purchase and stic a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM card into. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity, and while the stats don’t go into specifics, I imagine it’s 802.11b/g. Pricing is not yet available, but the phone will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the camera and the phone didn’t have any multimedia like MP3s or videos loaded on to it, but it does support both (and other formats) for playback on its large 3.5-inch display. Overall the Nuvifone is enticing, but I’ll be more impressed when I get to see it with the GPS and data connectivity turned on. For now, its super smooth UI and solid feel are enough to leave me excited to check out the browsing experience and GPS. The floor rep told me that its browser is comparable to the iPhone’s Safari one, but that claim is moot to me until I actually see it in action. Stay tuned for a full-video walk-through, the data connectivity in the press lounge here is about as fast as a river of molasses. Update: View video of the Garmin Nuvifone

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  1. Garmin Web Says:

    Great review – more news will come out on the nuvifone on our blog so make sure you bookmark us @ http://garmin.blogs.com/uk/

  2. Grant Says:

    Talk about some ugly icons. Overall, it looks like it could be a pretty cool phone, but with the iPhone priced $300 less, with much more features and support, I just don’t see the point. Does anyone know if this is a glass screen or is it like the current Garmin GPS?

  3. Hakan Says:

    @Grant- iPhone is $300 less if purchased with a contract. Do you have any idea how much it costs without a contract?

  4. Vitaly Says:

    Features? what features? like a video camera you mean? which an iPhone doesn’t have.

  5. Steve Says:

    That is one sweet phone! It has all the features I would actually use often. And, I would buy it even if it costs more than the iphone. A lot of people are getting sick of Apple, I know I am.

  6. Mike Says:

    The Garmin Nuvifone looks promising. It has all of the features of the iPhone 3G, including the features the iPhone 3G should have, like MMS, video capturing, and a full-function GPS. Granted it includes Exchange support, A2DP Bluetooth, Flash support, and a ‘Copy & Paste’ feature, it will easily surpass the iPhone 3G. Now if only they can bring the price down or subsidize through a carrier, I’d be willing to wait until it releases over purchasing the Nokia E71.

  7. Dingsda Says:

    Does anybody know if it will be possible to use the nueviphone for geocaching? Or is it just for the navigation on roads?

  8. Ben Says:

    I agree with Steve…tired of apple…ready for this one to come out…looks like it will be well worth the money!

  9. Tyler Says:

    I think this phone looks very promising. After the disappointing announcement of the new features to the much hyped iPhone 2, I think many people are going to be looking for a more feature laden touch screen phone. The more I read about this particular phone the more excited about it I become. My only point of contingence would be the price out of pocket and the carrier they choose to market it with. Also I have a question for the poster on here Mike. Do you know for sure that the added features you listed in your post, such as the Cut & Paste, Flash support, A2DP Bluetooth, and Exchange support, will actually be on the phone? And also, where did you read/get this information? Thank you very much for the information in advance if you can help me with that. Anyway, overall so far, I think this phone will be a MAJOR competitor for the iPhone and many of the other touch screen phones that are starting to come out more and more.

  10. Digdug Says:

    I an extremely interested in this phone. I have a Garmin Zumo for my MV Agusta and love the unit – so I was excited to hear of a Garmin phone. I will pay full price cash for it upon release *IF* it is made available on T-mobile. I have had no issues with TM in many years and will not switch to AT&T for any phone. I hope Garmin sells it on TM or as an unlocked phone. Frankly I dont understand the business logic behind releasing the Nuviphone exclusively on ATT where the iPhone also has exclusivity – obviously ATT and Apple are going to ‘push’ the iPhone more than any competitor, so why should Garmin cut its own market-share throat? Sell it as unlocked so an ATT or TM customer can purchase and use! Please Garmin I am grovelling, don’t weigh the Nuviphone down with an ATT-exclusive anchor!

  11. Ronald Says:

    Why buy it? It looks like it has not a Symbian or Window OS. So you are stucked again there with applications. Second the phone looks new but the map material NT 2008 in Europe is one of the baddest on the planet. I use Garmin for years 2610 and now 2820 which is my worst GPS ever. All nice functions are gone that where implemented in the 2610 (full charts display, readeble scaling, transparent windows, and more. The CF card which is missing in the 2820 is the biggest mistake. And the speed is worse then the 2610. No guys, for me Garmin is over. It is all about money and not about customer safisfaction. For which I will gladly pay a little more. I’m hoping someday there is this one GPS that is the right one. Don’t care about the brand.

  12. Bosh Says:

    @Ronald: Map NT 2008 is not bad. I have no poblems with that map.

  13. abcyesn Says:

    It’s a good phone, no doubt about it, all the new cell phone are getting navigation built-in, you cannot blame on Garmin going for the mobile industry simply because their cakes are getting eaten. I personally think this phone has its potentials if it’s priced right. Not for $500 dollars though. There’s a forum that discuss about the Nuvifone at http://www.Garmin-Nuvifone.org

  14. Elizabeth Says:

    I am looking into getting a new cell phone and I would really like a Sidekick II or III. On eBay there are a few unlocked Sidekicks. My plan is with Cingular, but if I bought an unlocked phone, could I still use it with my Cingular SIM card?

  15. Scott Says:

    This is a awesome cell phone, but when or how long will it take for people to get use to the word “FONE”.
    I can see stand alone GPS going the same way as news papers. Gone! Everything will be on our phones.

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