Nuviphone: Garmin Announces First Credible iPhone Competitor

garminnuviphone-lg1.jpg

Last night, Garmin announced the “Nuviphone,” a touchscreen smartphone with all the built-in GPS features you might expect from the company. Built around a 3.-5inch touchscreen with no dedicated buttons (at least on the front), the Nuviphone should be able to do pretty much everything the iPhone can do, like full-screen web browsing, email, and SMS over Wi-Fi or 3G (HSDPA). The GPS functions include points-of-interest information, photo and video automatic geotagging, and live traffic updates.

The only thing holding the Nuviphone back at the moment is a carrier, but considering their choice of 3G radio, AT&T is the likely choice when the phone launches later this year.

It looks like a hell of a device. As long as they put the same spit shine on the interface that Apple did, they could have a real contender on their hands.

Garmin hits iPhone directly with Nuviphone [Electronista.com]

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12 Responses to Nuviphone: Garmin Announces First Credible iPhone Competitor

  1. steve rimjobs says:

    Who wants a phone without a proper keypad anyway? How do you operate it one handed, say, in the car or hanging from a tree or while masturbating?

  2. Marie says:

    Why would AT&T want this phone? They already have the Iphone, shouldn’t Garmin be searching out a competitive carrier of the Iphone?

  3. Hanglyman says:

    The only thing holding me back from buying an iPhone is the fact that they only offer AT&T as a carrier (Yes, I know I can unlock an iPhone to use other services besides AT&T, but I don’t want to risk bricking it whenever Apple releases a software update). Wouldn’t it be wiser to go with one of AT&T’s competitors to get a larger share of the market? It’s not good enough to be exactly as capable as an iPhone. The Nuviphone needs to offer something the iPhone doesn’t already have, or very few people will have reason to buy it.

  4. Joel Johnson says:

    My guess is that they are using HSDPA because it’s the major 3G standard worldwide. That AT&T happens to be the only US carrier that uses the standard (until T-Mo gets around to upgrading in a couple of years) is just an unfortunate side effect.

  5. Simon Greenwood says:

    wurp@7:

    As much as I like the idea of FreeRunner I think practicality is going to get in its way and it’s going to end up being a very niche product that will be supported by no phone provider, which is more of an issue than you might think. Irrespective of how open it is, that will be compromised in some way as soon as a SIM is put in it. I’d love to be proved wrong but I’m not holding my breath.

  6. klimegreen says:

    I think on the surface iPhone contenders can look promising. Though here’s the thing, the iPhone has a lot going for it that does often enter these simplistic comparisons. For starters, there is a rarely a mention of the software experience, which is what makes the iPhone special. Nor does anyone mention that its a best iPod on the market, video and music, well connected to content via iTunes. This is a big deal. These types of things matter in the end, customers seem to have figured this out with the obvious win for Apple with the iPhone. I for one am looking forward to the next big iPhone thing, the expandable universe of iPhone apps that will come on the heels of the SDK release in Feb.

  7. klimegreen says:

    I think on the surface iPhone contenders can look promising. Though here’s the thing, the iPhone has a lot going for it that does often enter these simplistic comparisons. For starters, there is a rarely a mention of the software experience, which is what makes the iPhone special. Nor does anyone mention that its a best iPod on the market, video and music, well connected to content via iTunes. This is a big deal. These types of things matter in the end, customers seem to have figured this out with the obvious win for Apple with the iPhone. I for one am looking forward to the next big iPhone thing, the expandable universe of iPhone apps that will come on the heels of the SDK release in Feb.

  8. i0i says:

    This looks nice. Three UK are now pushing HSDPA mobile broadband for £10 a month with a 1GB cap. Personally, all I want to do on a device like this is browse the web and check emails. There is no point in committing to a 2 year contract at £35 per month when all I want is the data not calls.
    Three need to start selling the mobile broadband SIMs without modems, so that people have that option. This week I was unable to find a single shop that would sell me one.

  9. wurp says:

    This is not the first competitor to the iPhone! The FreeRunner hardware should be out in March, and it has all of the capabilities (and more) of the iPhone, plus GPS. The only piece missing is the camera, and frankly phone cameras suck, and suck harder every month as newer better cameras come out.

    The phone is open from top to bottom – you can do anything from write applications that do whatever you like with the beautiful 640×480 touchscreen (and bluetooth, gsm/sms/gprs, gps, etc) to adding new hardware to the i2c bus to designing a new case.

    You can see FreeRunner info at the OpenMoko main site.

    I have the developer’s version of the phone (slower and with no wifi) and I’m loving it. The developer version of the phone is really only good for people interested in writing software or fiddling with the hardware, or people who just can’t live without a linux terminal in their pocket :-)

    The final consumer ready hardware is expected in March or April, with the final consumer ready software (and a real consumer release of the FreeRunner) soon after.

    IMO they’re turning everything upside down – instead of a crappy little phone that locks you into a carrier and charges you to add ring tones, the phone is not only not locked to a carrier but is so open you can write voice over IP apps for it or create new hardware modules. All that on hardware that beats the iPhone in most ways.

    The developer version is $300; the FreeRunner is expected to be $450. Of course there is no contract required, since the phone will work with any gsm carrier out of the box.

    I wrote a little blurb about it in my blog.

  10. Doomstalk says:

    wurp: Frankly, that phone is ugly compared to both the iPhone and the Nuviphone. Sex factor is a huge factor in selling cell phones, so that’s a big problem.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I like my iphone but man is it frustrating when you have to wait months and weeks just to get “standard features” that all modern cell phones have.
    this thing looks great and if it has all the features out of the box I don’t see any good reason to stick with the iphone.

    apple, wheres my video recorder and my MMS?!

  12. wurp says:

    Simon@11: Can you tell me the ways that lack of provider support would impact it? It seems to me that they can’t change the format they use to do existing functionality, because it would break their old phones.

    They could add new features that they somehow lock down, I suppose. I don’t see important new features being added to cell communication fast enough that it would influence my decision to buy a phone, though.

    I don’t know what you mean about it being compromised as soon as a SIM is put in it, either. I have a SIM in mine and I can still fiddle with the software stack all the way down to (but not including) low level gsm code. I can track cell towers, initiate calls & send generated audio to them, capture audio from calls, use gprs for internet access, send & receive SMS with software, etc.

    Doomstalk@7:
    It is ugly compared to an iPhone, unfortunately. I think a lot of that is the lack of polish on the software, but it is the nature of open source software (release early, release often) that it is ugly in the beginning. In the longer run, though, an Ubuntu desktop that targets beauty is very competitive in look to a Mac, and I think the same will be true (in the long run) for the neo/FreeRunner.

    There are also initiatives to create alternate cases, which may solve the hardware ‘prettiness’ issue.

    I guess my point is that it’s still early for neo/FreeRunner. What’s available now is great for sysadmin/hardware guys/software guys (if you’re willing to get your hands dirty) and in the long run, I think the FreeRunner will be a great consumer device in general.

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