Garmin International Inc., global leader in GPS technology, announced the release of its first mobile phone, Garmin nuvifone, a fully-featured stylish and slim device that combines high-end phone functionality with an advanced personal navigation system and a mobile web-browser. The nuvifone is presented as "a work of art in features, design and functionality" and is bound to elevate the entire mobile industry.
"The nüvifone is an all-in-one device offering unmatched integration of utility and function in a single mobile device," said Cliff Pemble, President and COO of Garmin. "This is the breakthrough product that cell phone and GPS users around the world have been longing for - a single device that does it all."
The Garmin handset has a simple and elegant design and, by the way it looks, it will be compared with Apple's iPhone by many mobile fans. However, considering its features, "iPhone clone" is definitely not a label to suit this device.
Like the iPhone, Garmin nuvifone doesn't have hardware keys, being fully controlled via its wide 3.5 inch touchscreen. Since the producer didn't mention if the device has a multi-touch UI, we must suppose it doesn't. Running on Garmin's own Operating System, nuvifone brings 3.5G capability with HSPDA (plus quad-band GSM connectivity) and, when first opened, its screen welcomes users with only three icons: "Call," "Search" and "View Map", that will allow an easy navigation through all of the phone's functions.
The phone's built-in GPS is similar to Garmin's leading nuvi product line and provides turn-by-turn, voice-prompted direction and exhaustive maps of North America and Europe. The handset comes with Google local search capabilities which, together with the built-in premium browser, provide easy and fast access to any information on the Web, be it about the restaurant from your neighborhood or about the latest gadgets appeared in Tokyo (supposing you don't live there).
Other features of Garmin nuvifone include E-mail, SMS, MMS and access to the Garmin Online service (for constantly-updated traffic info, news reports, weather forecasts, sport scores, stock prices or fuel prices). The multimedia features of nuvifone include photo and video camera (with unknown performances for now) and Media player.
From Garmin's presentation, nuvifone looks to be one of the best mobile phones created until now. We'll find out if this is true or not in the third quarter of 2008, when the handset should become commercially available. The price of nuvifone has not been disclosed yet, but all its features will probably make it to retail for at least $500.