Posted by Mike Evans in Phones on February 11, 2010

Garmin-Asus have announced not one but two new smartphones – the Garmin-Asus Nuvifone A50 and Nuvifone M10 – both of which should be on display at MWC 2010 next week.

The Nuvifone A50 runs on Android while the Nuvifone M10 is a Windows Mobile 6.5.3 phone. Both are touchscreen smartphones, and, as you’d expect from Garmin, they both focus primarily on navigation.

That said, virtually all smartphones comewith GPS and some form of mapping software these days. So what do the Garmin-Asus Nuvifones offer that you can’t get with, say, any other Android smartphone, and why has Garmin gone to all the trouble of building its own phone?…

Garmin-Asus Nuvifones overview

Both phones offer pretty much all of the features you’d expect from a smartphone: touchscreen, WiFi, HSDPA (7.2Mbps), GPS, etc. They also come with a new user interface developed by Garmin, and it’s this tha tthe company is hoping will differentiate the Nuvifones from the other smartphones that are out there.

Garmin are betting that people want a more reliable mapping service than that provided by Google Maps, which, although a fantastic app, is useless when you have no network connection, or are using your phone abroad where data is charged at £1.50 per megabyte.
Garmin Nuvifone A50 GPS phone

The Nuvifone, in contrast, comes with Garmin’s navigation software and mapping data built-in, with a user interface designed to make it super-easy to use.

As you’d expect, the navigation software goes one better than Google’s maps, even its latest turn-by-turn navigation feature. With the Nuvifone, you get locally stored maps, turn by turn navigation, speed camera alerts, lane assist with junction view and cityXplorer, which provides info on local transport.

All of this from your mobile phone.

And if you’re envious of Google Maps users for their Street View app, don’t be – the Nuvifones feature this, too, letting you access Street View directly from the Garmin map.

Who are the Nuvifones for?

The Nuvifones are an interesting proposition. If your job or lifestyle is such that you need dedicated locally-stored maps with all the features Garmin provide on their Nuvifones, then you shouldn’t consider any other phone. The Nuvifones really are the only phones for you on the market at the moment.

(Nokia also offes turn by turn directions from its Ovi maps software on its GPS phones, but these are too slow and the user interface too confusing to be much competition).

Creating an Android version (above) and a Windows Mobile version (below) is also a smart move, as it provides familiarity and feature-laden OSes to what is a rather niche product.
Garmin-Asus Nuvifone M10 GPS phone

However, you can buy Tom Tom and Garmin mapping apps that pretty much do the same thing as the Nuvifone for other Android phones and the iPhone. Given this, you have to wonder why Garmin have decided to spend all that money on developing their own phone, when focusing on the software would have presumably been a much more cost effective alternative.

Hopefully we’ll have some more info for you next week at MWC 2010.

[Source: Phone Arena]