Announced just yesterday, and already in our hands – the new T-Mobile Garminfone. This is the second navigation/phone from Garmin, and their first device powered by Android. In this first look, we’ll show off the basics, but you’ll need to wait till next week for a full review.
The Garminfone features a 3.5″ capacitive multi-touch display (320×480 pixels), support for quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and dual band 3G (on WCDMA 2100 and 1700). Inside the Garminfone is 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 and a 3 megapixel auto-focus camera.
The Garminfone really is two devices in one – a full Android smartphone with browser, mail, market and more, as well as a premium navigation device with the “real” Garmin experience. By combining the two, you get interesting features like dynamic real-time traffic, weather, gas prices, local Google searches and more.
In addition to this, the phone also comes with the Garmin Voice Studio, which allows you to record your GPS voice prompts on the device – a first for any GPS unit.
I’ve only been playing with the Garminfone for an hour – but I’m actually quite impressed. I’ll fully admit (and apologize to Garmin about this) that I did not have very high hopes – their previous gps/phone was a bit of a dud, but I really do think they have a winner this time.
The phone feels snappy, the screen is crisp and the hardware feels really good (albeit a little slippery). Obviously, I’m a little biased due to my love of the Android platform, but Android feels quite at home on a navigation system. To help make the unit more vehicle friendly, Garmin completely redesigned the interface, with a variety of larger buttons.
On my first drive with the unit, it was able to navigate perfectly, as the unit clearly uses some of the same excellent routing logic found on the regular Garmin navigation systems. Maps move very smoothly and manage to keep up with the vehicle quite nicely.
The Garminfone package comes nice and complete – inside the box is an active dash/windshield mount, car charger, headset, USB cable and a 2GB MicroSD card.
There are one or two downsides – for some unknown reason, Garmin-Asus failed to put a regular headphone jack on the phone, opting for the same kind of MiniUSB plug used on HTC devices.
Then there is the price – at $199 (with a 2 year activation) this may appear to be a reasonable deal, but it puts it in the same price range as the Google Nexus One. And while the Nexus One may not be as good at navigating, it does provide more phone for the same price.
I’ll refrain from any real conclusions today, and reserve those for the full review. You’ll be able to order your own Garminfone in June. You can register to be notified of its availability at the T-Mobile Garminfone mini-site. In the meantime, enjoy these photos showing the unit and some of the applications.