Nuvifone A10 is the first Android device from Garmin-Asus and the second in their smartphone portfolio. Garmin, the world’s best known GPS device company and Taiwanese technology brand Asus had joined hands in early 2009 to develop smartphones with navigation as a primary function, and we think they’ve done a stellar job.
The first phone from this joint venture was called M10. Although this device delivers remarkable precision on the navigation front, it failed as a phone and on the user interface front. Garmin-Asus rectified this problem with A10. They have not ignored the user interface, which is very user friendly and smooth this time around.
Nuvifone A10, running on Android 2.1 OS, delivers exceptionally good navigation services and has integrated maps as well as location based services. It also has almost all the features that a phone needs. Phone book contacts can be saved with their photographs and geo tags, or location where the photograph was clicked.
The phone is elegant but not flashy. The quality of plastics used is very good. Garmin-Asus A10 sports a 3.2 inch HVGA quality TFT capacitive touchscreen. It is powered by a Qualcomm 7227 600MHz processor and offers 512 MB SDRAM, along with 4 GB of internal memory and 512 MB SLC.
Connectivity and applications
The phone supports essential connectivity options including WiFi, Bluetooth and USB. A10 is an HSPA+ device, which means it can support speeds of up to 21 Mbps on the 3.5G network.
Garmin-Asus Nuvifone A10 uses the default Android web browser, which is great in terms of functionality and features.
The device offers the user a choice between two entirely different user interfaces or home screens – Breeze and Classic. The former is a slightly skinned version of the most basic Android and includes multiple homescreens, a notification bar etc.
The Classic screen has been created keeping in mind the phone’s navigation features. It displays a single screen with widgets on the right that can be rearranged and three large buttons on the left that let you make calls, use the GPS or view pre installed maps.
While the menu of Classic is easy to use if you are accustomed to Android phones; the Breeze menu is the one we like as it allows for more customisation. The phone’s touchscreen and user interface are smooth, but are nothing to rave about. The onboard keyboard is well designed though.
A10 comes with several built in apps including Ciao, which helps you integrate your social networking sites and is also aware of location. Some apps such as fuel, which keeps track of the best fuel prices around are of no use in India as oil prices here do not vary depending upon the market dynamics as in European countries.
The phone also supports Exchange push email. Because it runs on Android OS, Garmin-Asus A10 supports Google Mobile Services that include apps for Gmail and YouTube. More apps can be found at the Android Market.
As expected, the phone’s GPS functions perform exceptionally well. A10 is able to find satellite connectivity even while it is indoors. It uses Navteq maps. The maps of India as well as voice navigation are free within the country.
Although the Navteq maps are fairly accurate, don’t expect the kind of features that are available in Europe. You will not get traffic information or fuel price details in India. However, the map has millions of points of interest built in which will help you find near by hotels, restaurants, ATMs, hospitals, tourist spots, and petrol pumps etc.
The process of feeding in addresses is simple. Voice navigation is clear and it is even possible to record one’s own voice for navigation guidance.
You will also need to buy an additional car kit at the cost of Rs 2,200 if you want to use the phone in the car. This car kit includes a wind screen mount and a car charger. Once it is connected to the car, the kit charges the phone, enable louder sound and also remember the last GPS location.
Garmin-Asus A10 only plays back MP4, H.263 and H.264 video formats. For listening to music on the A10, you can either use the default Android music player or download a player from Android Market.
The good thing about the A10 is that the interface is easy to use and music quality is loud and clear.
Then again, the bundled earphones leave a lot to be desired, while the speaker on the phone is good enough for voice based guidance, but is not good for listening to music.
Although A10 has a 5.0 mega pixel autofocus camera, the absence of a flash and customisations clearly show that Asus has not given much attention to this feature. However, picture quality in well lit environments is decent.
Video quality is also not bad and the geo tagging feature is well integrated so you can view pictures based on locations that are nearest to where the picture was taken.
A10 also has poor battery although it is rated at 1500 mAh. The battery runs out very quickly when running apps or browsing on WiFi, or even when the GPS is turned on.
The phone’s memory is expandable to 32 GB using microSD cards.
At Rs 18,990 plus Rs 2,200 for the car kit, the phone is very costly. You can get many other cheaper smartphones from Samsung, LG and HTC with better overall performance which will also have a GPS function built in. But if you are looking for a smartphone, and GPS functionality is high up on your priority list, the Garmin-Asus A10 is definitely worth considering.