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Nokia Expands U.S. PND Phone Selection

Nokia is turning more unlocked cellphones in the U.S. into portable navigation devices (PNDs) by adding onboard maps, route-calculation software and turn-by-turn driving instructions with lane assistance.

The phones will also offer free lifetime connected services.

The PND features become available globally in March on 10 phones, four of which are already available as unlocked models in the U.S., a spokesperson told TWICE. More are coming to the U.S., she added. Consumers who already own these phones or who buy one before March can download the PND application from The maps are provided by digital map maker Navteq, acquired by Nokia in 2007.

“This is a game-changing move,” said Nokia executive VP Anssi Vanjoki.” By leveraging our Navteq acquisition and our context-sensitive service offering, we can now put a complete navigation system in the palm of your hand, wherever in the world you are, whenever you need it, at no extra cost.” The development potentially could “nearly double the size of the current mobile navigation market,” the company added.

Nokia’s first unlocked U.S. phone to offer turn-by-turn instructions, the 5800 Navigation Edition, became available late last year at $299. Other unlocked phones now capable of downloading this capability in the U.S. are the $549 N97 Mini, the $269 5800 Xpress Music and $419 E72. “Additional models will come online soon including the N97,” the spokesperson said.

Offering free PND maps and software will “allow the company to quickly activate a massive user base to which it can offer new location features, content and services,” Nokia contended. The effort lines up with Nokia’s vision that “the next wave of growth will be centered on the location-aware, social Internet — as the ‘where’ people are doing things becomes as important as the ‘what’ they are doing,” the company added.

The PND phones aren’t available through AT&T, nor will the downloads be available to AT&T-locked Nokia-brand phones, even though the carrier recently announced that subscribers using select Nokia phones would be able to download content and apps from Nokia’s Ovi store, Nokia told TWICE.

Just like a PND, Nokia’s PND phones feature onboard North America maps and an embedded route-calculation engine for drivers and pedestrians. Because maps and route calculation software reside on the device rather than on a cellular carrier’s servers, the phone can be used for navigation even when cellular signal is lost.

The phones also offer points-of-interest information content, such as restaurants and hotel information, speed-limit warnings, and speed-camera alerts based on embedded databases that can be updated via over-the-air downloads. Free online services include real-time traffic updates, event and movie listings, and weather forecasts.