Unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2010, the Garmin-Asus nuvifone A10 marks the company's first step into the Google Android scene. It's a decision that has been mirrored by many manufacturers, turning to the open-source OS that has gained quite a following. The A10 is one of these many devices, taking advantage of Android's openness towards customization to forge its own unique identity.
Before we touch upon the software and user interface aspect of the A10, let us take a more superficial approach and examine the A10's exterior. At first sight, you'll notice a similar design concept to the earlier Garmin-Asus M10 with its shiny border. Turning to the rear, the similarities end - a non-glossy backing which gave us a firm grip on the device. We won't say the A10 is the slimmest Android on the market, given its 13.9mm profile. However, it wasn't hard to handle for us, though it might be a challenge for those with smaller hands.
Given the freedom to customize, you'll find not one, but two retooled user interfaces bearing a few differences from the stock Android design. Users of the Garmin-Asus G60 will find a familiar interface, highlighting the device's call, search and maps feature with three large icons. Swiping the side column that houses the various Android apps reveals its main menu, which users can easily customize by holding and dragging apps to and fro.
Should you find this interface not to your liking, you can opt to switch to a multi-page design closer to the standard Android interface. Clicking on the touch sensitive home button won't bring you to the first page like most Android devices do. Instead, it reveals the various pages in thumbnail format, and lets you add up to nine pages.
As you can expect from the Garmin-Asus branding, the new A10 is armed with navigation features similar to its Garmin counterparts. Much like what you get with the M10, you'll find a detailed navigation software within, which includes turn-by-turn voice navigation and free maps for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei (varies according to purchase origin). We were pleased at its satellite lock speed and re-routing efficiency (both speed and accuracy).
The navigation accuracy is good and a street view for complicated traffic junctions is definitely useful. The only downside would be its sluggish performance for map rendering.
Unfortunately, the limitations of the A10's internal Qualcomm 600MHz processor was felt in the device's overall performance. At times, the interface wasn't as smooth during transitions, and this was apparent with live wallpapers that seemed less responsive than other Android devices. With its 5-megapixel camera and an average resolution of 320 x 480 pixels on its 3.2-inch screen, the A10 won't be our top choice for multimedia purposes.
However, the modestly clocked hardware did give its 1500mAh battery more mileage, clocking in nearly six hours on our battery test and almost two days of daily usage. Priced at S$598 without contract, the Garmin-Asus A10 is considerably affordable, and has some decent features to keep it relevant in a competitive smartphone market.