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Garmin to launch GPS smartphone

Satnav maker aims for slice of smartphone market

Garmin is to launch a touchscreen mobile phone complete with mobile web-browser and satellite navigation software.

The Garmin Nüvifone – a moniker derived from Garmin’s existing Nüvi satellite navigation device range – will combine 3.5G phone capability with an internet browser, data connectivity, personal messaging and full personal navigation functions.

The slim phone will feature a 3.5in LCD touchscreen, built-in still camera for stills and video and an audio player for MP3, Mpeg4 and AAC files.

When docked in its vehicle mount, the GPS will automatically engage and the navigation menu will start up. The Nüvifone’s hands-free feature will also kick in when the handset is placed in the cradle.

Preloaded with maps of North America and eastern and western Europe, the Nüvifone will be Garmin's first device to include Google Local Search. Users will be able to search for locations by type, such as "coffee shops". Google Local Search sorts results based on the user's current location.

The Nüvifone handset will feature a "Where am I?" feature that identifies the driver’s current location on the map. The handset will also help drivers find where they parked their car by automatically marking the position it was in when the device was last removed from its vehicle mount.

The built-in camera allows users to take a picture and tag it with the latitude and longitude reference and then save the image, so they can navigate back to the location, or email the details to someone else.

Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and COO said: “This is the breakthrough product that mobile phone and GPS users around the world have been longing for – a single device that does it all.”

The phone is expected to be available in autumn 2008 but will get its first public airing at Mobile World Congress (the new name for 3GSM) later this month. Pricing details have yet to be announced.

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