BELLEVUE, WASH. — T-Mobile’s launch of a full-touchscreen 3G smartphone that doubles as a portable navigation device (PND) and costs only $69.99 after $50 rebate will bring the convergence of cellphones and PNDs to a new level.
Sure, the price requires a minimum $39.99/month voice plan and minimum $9.99/month data plan and a two-year service commitment is also required.
But the Symbian OS-based Nokia 5230 Nuron, due in the coming weeks in T-Mobile stores and select retailers, features 3.2-inch display is different.
Like a traditional PND, the Nuron incorporates onboard maps, points-of-interest (POI) data and routing algorithm. But the data resides on the device rather than on a carrier’s servers, and the Nuron and others like it provide multiple advantages over carrier’s subscription- based navigation services, such as not having to wait for maps and route information to download over the cellular network. Phones can be used for navigation even when a cellular signal is lost, and users don’t have to pay a monthly fee.
With the planned T-Mobile launch, PND phone options get more affordable. Unlike Nokia’s unlocked PND phones, for example, the Nuron’s price benefits from a carrier subsidy. Likewise, AT&T subsidizes the price of the Garmin-Asus PND phone, which is priced at $99 after $100 rebate and requires $30/month data plan. The iPhone, priced from $99 to $299 with required $30/month data plan, is available with downloadable third-party navigation apps that cost an additional $39 to $99. Those apps feature onboard maps, routing algorithm, POIs and, in some cases, traffic reports.
Verizon’s Motorola Droid, available at $199 with required $30/month data plan, and the $179 Google Nexus One at T-Mobile, also with required data plan, come with navigation app called Google Maps Navigation, a hybrid navigation technology that downloads a route’s maps and driving directions on demand from the cloud for temporary local storage. Unlike carrier-based navigation services, the app continues to provide route guidance even if the cellular signal is lost. The navigation service is included in the price of a subscriber’s data plan.
For its part, Nokia began offering its fi rst PND phone in the U.S. late last year as an unlocked model without carrier subsidy. Earlier this year, Nokia expanded its PND Phones continued from page 6 unlocked PND phone selection, but the Nuron is the fi rst Nokia smartphone available through a U.S. carrier with preloaded Nokia Ovi Maps navigation application.
The Nuron comes preloaded with maps for the U.S., Canada and Mexico and lets users access maps of more than 180 countries when traveling at www. nokiausa.com/maps. Like Nokia’s unlocked PND phones, the Nuron features pedestrian and driving route guidance, automatic rerouting and lane assistance. An embedded database that includes points of interest (POI), speed-limit warnings and speed-camera locations can be updated via over-the-air downloads. Free online services include realtime traffi c updates, event and movie listings, and weather forecasts. The phone also features IM, email access and full HTML browser.
Nuron’s maps and navigation data are provided by digital map maker Navteq, acquired by Nokia in 2007.
The Nuron is also the first Nokia phone from a U.S. carrier to come preloaded with an app to access Nokia’s Ovi store. Carrier-offered Nokia phones from AT&T, in contrast, require users to download an Ovi Store app from http:// store.ovi.com before downloading store content, Nokia told TWICE. The cost of Ovi Store content can be added to the user’s phone bill or to a credit card.