Garmin nuvifone G60 Review

Garmin nuvifone G60 Review

The Garmin nuvifone G60 is a hybrid device, pairing a touchscreen GPS with a 3G wireless phone on AT&T's network. There's nothing fancy here, but it's a solid device that's easy to use and reasonably priced at $200 after rebate with a two-year contract.


The first thing that comes to mind when looking at the G60 is "blocky" -- the overall device is very simple in its design, and very rectangular. It isn't ugly by any means, but it isn't particularly attractive either.

Garmin nuvifone G60The second thing I noticed is that there aren't any buttons on the front -- this is primarily a Touchscreen device.

The power button is on the top, and it doubles as the wake button to bring the screen back to life when you need to use the device. The only other buttons are on the right side, where you'll find the volume controls at the top and the camera button at the bottom.

The microSD card slot, car dock connector, and mini USB charging port are on the left side. The microSD slot is well designed -- it's big enough that you can actually use your finger to insert the card or pop it out; you don't have to hunt around for a letter opener or some other suitably small pointy object to use, which is generally the case with phones that have external card slots.

The G60 is roughly the same height as my iPod Touch, but much narrower and thicker. It's a bit too big to use easily with one hand, though a guy with larger hands probably wouldn't have any issues. It fits fine in a pants pocket, though it does create a noticeable bulge because the sides aren't really rounded or curved in any way.

The 3.5-inch Touchscreen running at 272 by 480 pixels is nice and bright indoors, and while it was harder to see outdoors (especially when wearing sunglasses) I could still use the device. The screen has nice contrast with vibrant colors, but it can wash out a bit in direct sunlight.

The Touchscreen aspect of the display is a bit "mushy", and reminds me a bit of older LCD displays that "ripple" when you touch them. I didn't have any problems with my touches and swipes being misidentified by the device, though. The effect is a little weird, but I got used to it after a while.

The G60 does not have a physical keyboard, but it does have a virtual one that you can bring up on screen when necessary. In landscape mode the keyboard is quite nice, with large, easy to see keys. A single tap on the 1@$ button just to the left of the space bar switches to an alternate mode with numbers and punctuation marks, and I like that approach much more than having to hit a special function key before each character, especially if I'm entering a series of numbers.

The keyboard is nowhere near as successful when used in portrait mode, however. Instead of the standard QWERTY layout, the portrait mode keyboard switches to the ABC layout, which is extremely frustrating and very quickly takes my speed down to half of what I can accomplish with a QWERTY keyboard.

Fortunately the word completion function works very well, offering suggestions promptly. When I am writing e-mails it takes just two letters before the entire address pops up. Even better, the word completion utility does not take over (a source of endless frustration for me on other devices until I give up and turn it off) but requires you to press a single button on the keyboard to accept the substitution. It's brilliant, and I wish that other phones/devices would follow suit.

The Nuvifone G60 comes with a USB sync cable, AC adapter, and a driver CD with the instruction manual and calendar/contact sync application. A nice suction-cup dash mount is included, and it has a swivel head so it is relatively easy to angle the G60 away from the sunlight coming in your car windows, if necessary.


The Garmin nuvifone G60's user interface has major strengths and weaknesses. Overall I really like it because it's so easy to use -- you don't have to crawl through layers of menus just to get to your most used applications, for example -- but in other ways it's relatively clunky.

My immediate impression when I first turned on the device is that it reminded me of the Jitterbug, the "dumbed down" phone designed for the elderly. That is not an insult, because I actually like things that are easy to use.

Everything you could possibly want to do with the G60 is right there on the home screen, with big buttons that are easy to activate. Want to make a call, search for something nearby, or view a map? You can do that.

The lower edge of the screen has icons for secondary functions such as contacts, text messages, e-mail, the web browser, camera, weather, tools, settings, Ciao! (a friend locator social networking app), music player, and calendar. Just swipe the bottom bar to access all of the icons, though it took me longer than I care to admit to figure that out, because there aren't any visual cues such as arrows to tell you how it works.

One of the nicest features of the UI is that it is consistent across all applications, enhancing the ease of use. No matter what you're doing, a side or bottom bar (depending on the orientation of the device) is there with your available options -- to go back, to access the menu or keyboard, etc.

The user interface isn't entirely perfect, but it's a nice one -- especially for folks who are tired of complicated electronic devices.

Wireless/Call Quality
Call quality is a bit above mediocre -- nothing exceptional, but not bad either. My test callers could definitely tell that I was using a mobile phone. There was some background noise, but nothing that caused any conversational difficulties.

Garmin nuvifone G60 -- Car MountWi-Fi and Bluetooth are included, and work as expected, with no surprises.

Navigation is of course the main attraction for the nuvifone, and my results were generally very good. I got the feeling that I was using a true GPS device, not the hacked-together solution that seems to be the standard for most other smartphones these days.

No matter where I was or how fast I was traveling, my location was always displayed in just a couple of seconds, and with pinpoint accuracy.

Current direction and speed are displayed, and you can choose between an overhead view and a street-level view. The car button in the top left corner takes you straight to information about local traffic conditions.

When you want to go somewhere, you can enter a specific address or search for local points of interest. When you're ready you just tap go and the device automatically gives voice-guided directions as necessary. It would be nice if it were possible to actually see the suggested route before you start, as you can in Google Maps, especially if you want to give directions to a friend and you're not so sure how to get there yourself.

In my testing I found that the directions were always accurate, though they weren't necessarily based on the shortest route or the route that "locals" would take to a given direction. Of course I intentionally missed turns here and there, just to see what would happen, and the G60 recalculated and got me back on track very quickly.

This really isn't meant to be a smartphone beyond the obvious navigational features, but it does cover some of the productivity basics. The calendar application allows you to add appointments and reminders, and since this is a Garmin device the location field ties into the GPS function. You can also add reminders, repeats, and notes, but that's about it.

The Contacts function is a little more full-featured, with an impressive number of fields for the various phone numbers, e-mail addresses, screen names, and such that we've all accumulated these days. You can also add a photo if you like, and/or choose a specific ringtone for each contact. Like the Calendar application everything is pretty basic, but it gets the job done.

E-mail works fairly well, but the interface is a bit clunky. Instead of showing me a list of Gmail folders, I have to bring up the menu each time I want to switch folders. A minor inconvenience, though not a big deal especially for those who don't use folders as extensively as I do. Even stranger is the fact that HTML e-mail messages don't render in the e-mail application at all -- you simply get a link you can touch to view the message in the web browser. It works, but I really don't like having to jump through hoops to see my messages. At least hitting the back button in the corner of the screen takes me directly back to e-mail, as opposed to dumping me out in the home screen.

The web browser works, but it's somewhat slow and suffers from the same issues I've had with several other devices I've tested. I've become so spoiled by the pinch-zoom feature on my iPod touch that other browsers have a really hard time measuring up. The browser is fine once you hit the plus sign on the screen to zoom in a couple of times, and renders even complicated sites full of advertising quite nicely.

The weather application is another bright spot -- the extended forecast is displayed neatly on screen with attractive graphics. Tap on a particular day to get more information such as sunrise and sunset. The home screen icon also displays the current temperature, which is a nice touch if you're in a hurry and don't really care what the weather will be like tomorrow. Unfortunately weather (along with the traffic alert and fuel price search features) is a premium application that will cost you $5.99 a month after a thirty-day trial.

Garmin nuvifone G60Under the Tools menu you'll find a calculator, clock, unit converter, notepad, checklist app, traffic search, and a flight status app. The Flight status application is particularly nifty -- just choose your airport and your airline, and you can enter a specific flight if you know the flight number, or else just search arrivals and departures within a four hour window. There's also a Where Am I? application that provides your latitude, longitude, and elevation, as well as buttons you can press to find the nearest hospital, police station, or gas station.

The music player is the only sort of entertainment application on nuvifone, and it only works with MP3 files. It works, but it's even more basic than the included productivity applications. You can sort songs by artist, album, etc. but that's about it.

No other entertainment applications are included. In a way, that's refreshing -- some of the devices I've reviewed lately have several pages of games, apps, and carrier-specific offerings that require premium monthly fees that tend to bloat your wireless bill. There are no games on the G60, and no way to add them. The phone does support AT&T's Media Mall for ringtones, graphics, and themes.

The 3.2 megapixel camera takes fairly good pictures, though I had a few issues with camera shake even when holding the G60 with both hands. That's mainly due to the camera button, which is almost flush with the side of the device -- it's hard to depress fully without moving the phone just a bit.

There are no settings available for the camera, which was somewhat surprising. You can choose whether or not to geo-tag your photos with your current location, but that's the only option.

Battery Life
The G60 comes with a 1200 mAh battery that is rated for four hours of talk time and up to 250 hours of standby time. The results you can expect from the battery will vary widely, and they depend quite heavily on the GPS coverage in your area. I had to dig down into the settings application to find the spot where I could put this device into airplane mode in order to turn off the GPS function. That's necessary for me since I'm at the office an average of ten hours a day; otherwise the battery would drain way too fast.

In my testing I found that I was able to go about four days with the GPS function always on, which is better than I expected considering the low network signal strength inside my office. I wouldn't feel compfortable leaving the charger at home on a two or three day trip, but I didn't feel the need to run to an outlet at the end of the day either, which is nice.


Whether or not you like the Garmin nuvifone G60 entirely depends on your tech personality and what you want to get out of your phone. Your average nerd would probably take one look at the G60 and start laughing because it doesn't play games or videos and it doesn't have Twitter and Facebook clients along with all the other bells and whistles that today's smartphones should have.

Garmin nuvifone G60But your average consumer would likely have an entirely different reaction. The G60 would be perfect for folks like my mother who are relatively comfortable with technology but take a "just the facts" approach to electronics -- they just want things to work, and don't care that it can do the laundry and walk the dog for you, too. The G60 would also be a good choice for folks who are trying to simplify a bit and combine devices -- perhaps you know someone who needs to stay connected, but doesn't have a phone permanently attached to their ear; someone who would welcome the ability to have a GPS in their pocket that also serves as a phone with light e-mail and web browsing capabilities.

In other words, the G60 fills an interesting niche in today's mobile phone offerings, and should not be dismissed out of hand. It definitely warrants a closer look, and I would certainly consider it myself if I needed the enhanced GPS navigation features.


* Excellent navigation features
* Extremely easy to use
* Covers the basics without a lot of confusing extras
* Nifty Weather and Flight Status applications


* Few entertainment options
* ABC keyboard in portrait mode
* A few UI quirks, such as having to use a menu to switch e-mail folders
* Display can wash out in direct sunlight