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Garmin-Asus Announce New nuviphone Series

Gordon Kelly


Garmin-Asus Announce New nuviphone Series

The original Garmin nuviphone is the perfect example of what can happen when you design a potentially game changing product, but can't get it to market in time (you could argue the same about the Palm Pre). Since then all has been rather quiet, but could its partnership with Asus now finally be about to bear fruit?

Signalling that Garmin's hugely ambitious plan to build its own smartphone OS is now well and truly dead are two new models, the 'A50' and 'M10' - the former running on Android, the latter on Windows Mobile 6.5.3.

Of the two we'd go for the A50. It sports a 3.5in HVGA capacitive touchscreen, 3G, WiFi, 4GB of internal storage + microSD expansion slot and aGPS with full Garmin satnav functionality which includes the likes of weather, traffic, fuel prices, safety cameras, flight status, and even movie times. The camera is a bit more run of the mill at three megapixels and without flash. As for the M10, this matches the A50 spec for spec and has the same satnav functionality, but is based on Windows Mobile (even if 6.5.3 looks a welcome improvement).

Now the big question here - and what brings me back to my opening paragraph - is whether Garmin GPS, good as it is, on a handset really still has the appeal it did when the first nuviphone was announced in January 2008? In short, no - and what's more the free Google Maps Navigation turn-by-turn satnav has already been launched for Android in the US with a global roll-out to follow. This is a trick recently repeated by Nokia too with Ovi Maps.

So Asus-Garmin may have missed the boat. Then again, if it can get the pricing (and/or network subsidies low enough) the duo may stand a chance. That said, I'm not overly convinced. Right idea, wrong timing...




February 12, 2010, 1:11 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Google navigation only works if you've got an internet connection. It also pretty much requires you to have a mobile plan which caters to high volume applications; granted, that's something you'll want to have with an Android device, anyway.

Peter 20

February 12, 2010, 2:54 am

I've said this before so I'll say again: Am I the only person in the world who believes that the a GPS that requires constant data connection with your wireless carrier to download maps is not a GPS at all. What happens if you want to take your "GPS" to another country where you don't have coverage. Or better yet if you don't have a DATA plan. To me unless Google will come up with some sort of feature which will let you download and cash in maps for specific region their navigation "app" will be nothing but a gimmick.


February 12, 2010, 6:41 am

Peter - it is GPS, that's the GPS receiver, what it isn't is natively installed maps. Ovi Maps, for example, allows users to download and store these maps, though it uses a lot of handset storage (1-2GB). Personally I think it should be an option to download the maps on any platform, otherwise GPS abroad is utterly pointless.


February 12, 2010, 2:38 pm


If your livelihood depends on navigation, or you are a really heavy user of satnav, then nothing more than a dedicated device will do. However, I think that for most of us, the problems you envisage are not a real issue.

For starters, I don't know anyone who has a smartphone but not a data plan. They kind of go hand in hand. Secondly, most people only go abroad on holiday, maybe once or twice a year. I use a dedicated satnav device at the moment, and it only has UK maps anyway. I could have bought one with European or Worldwide maps, but it would have cost more. If I ever want to drive abroad, my current thinking would be to hire a car with satnav at the destination. So it's not really that different.

I agree that there is room for improvement in services like google's satnav... caching maps does seem like an obvious area. I believe that it's only a matter of time (and phone memory?) before that functionality is added too.

Peter 20

February 12, 2010, 6:28 pm


To me a "GPS system" is a GPS receiver + Maps without those two together the device is pointless.


You're probably right, most if not all people who own a smart phone have a data plan. Except for me, in my situation I still need all the features and functions of a smart phone but I do travel abroad a lot and I love the ability to go to a local cellular store and pick up a prepaid SIM card and make local calls without being tied down to a contract. Crying a dedicated GPS device everywhere you travel is not a good solution so in my situation a smart phone with downloadable (cash-able) maps is the only good solution, and it would appear there are less and less companies offering that now a days even though I'm sure I'm not the only one out there in this predicament.


February 12, 2010, 7:50 pm

Having used the Garmin G60 and Nokia 5800 Nav Edition a lot, I agree with Peter that having the GPS maps on your device is a big help. I never owned a PND until I got the G60 but it had all the features of a top quality Garmin PND with phone added. Having Android will allow it to have the Apps that are very useful. The G60 was a GPS with some phone features added. Now it will be a GPS and a smartphone.


February 14, 2010, 4:53 am

I agree maps on the device would always be preferable to data connection maps, I dont have data all the time (only buy it when needed) a dedicated sat nav doesnt need a data connection because it is ultimately impractical and on the mobile is the same

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