Garmin-Asus A50 Android smartphone

The Garmin-Asus A50 combines Garmin's GPS expertise with an Asus-built Android mobile phone.

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews (6)
  • Buy Now 2
Garmin-Asus A50
  • Garmin-Asus A50
  • Garmin-Asus A50
  • Garmin-Asus A50
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5
  • User Rating

    4.50 / 5 (of 6 Reviews)

Pros

  • Excellent navigation capabilities, sales package includes window mount and AC charger, 4GB internal memory, multitouch, good value smartphone

Cons

  • No 3.5mm headphone jack, touchscreen isn't as responsive as other smartphones, not the fastest performance, phone interface lacks polish

Bottom Line

The Optus-exclusive Garmin-Asus A50 Android smartphone represents good value, offering a larger screen than the mid-range Garmin-Asus A10. This smartphone falls short in a number of areas, including the exclusion of a standard headphone jack, but an excellent navigation experience gives it a unique edge.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 2 stores)

  • Garmin Fenix 2 GPS Training Heart Rate Monitor ... 440.31
  • GARMIN Fenix Wrist GPS+ABC 449.00
See all prices

The Garmin-Asus A50 is a step-up from the entry level Garmin-Asus A10, offering a larger screen and a sleeker design. The A50 smartphone doesn't have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and it uses the same processor as the entry-level model.

Design

Aesthetically, the Garmin-Asus A50 smartphone is sleeker and more rounded than its A10 counterpart. The main benefit to the new design is it has created space for the inclusion of a larger 3.5in capacitive touchscreen. The A50 can't claim the latest screen technology; its regular TFT display is inferior to the iPhone 4's IPS "retina display", and it also runs a distant second to the super AMOLED screen of the Samsung Galaxy S, and the regular AMOLED of the HTC Desire. Nonetheless, the Garmin-Asus A50 screen provides reasonable viewing angles and it is relatively bright and clear, although is hard to view in direct sunlight and it is not as responsive to touch as many of its competitors.

The Garmin-Asus A50 has four touch sensitive buttons below the display (back, menu, phone and home) surrounding a five-way navigational pad. Although most of the interaction will involve the phone's touchscreen, the edges of the navigational pad are too thin and dig into your fingers when pressed. The touch sensitive keys only illuminated when pressed and they often required more than one touch to activate.

We can happily reveal that Garmin-Asus is generous when it comes to included accessories, providing a USB cable, in-car charger, AC adapter and headphones in the sales package. A startling omission is that there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, which we feel is an unacceptable oversight for a new Android phone release. Instead the Garmin-Asus A50 uses a mini-USB port rather than the standard micro-USB port that most manufacturers are now adopting. This means you can only use the included headphones that fit the mini-USB port unless you purchase a separate adaptor.

Android OS 1.6

The Garmin-Asus A50 runs the older Google Android 1.6 operating system but it has created a skin with a unique interface that centres on GPS navigation. The main point of difference between this device and other Android smartphones on the market is that its home screen forgoes live widgets in favour of extra large 'Call', 'Where To' and 'View Map' icons. A right mounted shortcut bar provides access to commonly used functions; the bar can be dragged towards the left side of the screen to open the main menu, and icons can be dragged to and from the shortcut bar.

To access the standard Android widgets, you need to tap an icon that is placed in the shortcut sidebar on the home screen. There are five home screens available to populate, but they're not as easy to access on this device when compared to other Android phones we’ve tested, making them less useful than the widgets found on the HTC Desire and the Samsung Galaxy S. Overall, Garmin-Asus' changes to the regular Android menus and icons don't provide any huge benefits — in fact the regular Android menus are much more polished. Most users won't be irked by the A50 running the older 1.6 version of Android, but they might find that some newer apps in the Android market are not compatible with this OS.

GPS navigation

As expected, the Garmin-Asus A50 possesses excellent GPS navigation capabilities. Based on the same software as Garmin's standalone GPS units, the A50 user interface is simple to use and very effective. The map screen is clear and straightforward; other features include a dedicated pedestrian mode, two Australian text-to-speech voices, advanced lane guidance with photoReal junction view, the ability to download new safety camera information, live traffic, and a handy save parking spot feature, which automatically saves your location as a parking spot when you remove the A50 from its in-car cradle.

The Garmin-Asus A50 borrows many features from Garmin's Net-connected standalone GPS, the nuvi 1690. These features include access to real-time online information including TrueLocal.com.au search, traffic and flight information, weather and fuel prices. The Garmin-Asus A50 also includes the Ciao! friend finder service. This location-based social networking system connects multiple Garmin devices, so it can act as a location tracker and make it easier to find friends, family or workmates.

What the Garmin-Asus A50 does best is integrate these GPS features seamlessly into the phone. As an example, you can easily share your current location via SMS, e-mail and other communications methods. If you are sent an address, a single click will automatically open the navigation function and allow you to choose either walk or drive turn-by-turn navigation methods. This tight integration extends to a number of phone functions including your calendar, contacts and Web browser. We also really liked the use of Android's notifications bar — dragging it down during navigation gives you the option of quickly ending the current route, as well as accessing any saved parking spots. The A50 can navigate to an address directly from your contacts list or to a location from a geotagged photo, and it comes with a lifetime map subscription that provides a free map update four times per year for the life of the device.

In our tests we discovered a few quirks — for example you can't adjust any navigation settings while in the GPS application itself, and the A50's speaker could be louder in all environments, but this was especially noticeable in our in car tests. As mentioned previously, the touch screen sensitivity is hit and miss, and this was apparent when accessing the GPS settings.

Other features

Outside its navigation capabilities, the Garmin-Asus A50 offers the regular features and functions of Android 1.6, including the Android Market for third-party apps, an excellent notifications taskbar and automatic and seamless synchronisation with Google services. Unfortunately, you can't save downloaded apps to the microSD card, and Android remains an inferior multimedia platform when compared to the iPhone, although there are many customisable music player applications downloadable from the Android Market. In testing, the Garmin-Asus A50 felt sluggish on occasion, especially when performing basic tasks such as opening and closing applications.

Web browsing on the Garmin-Asus A50 is aided by the inclusion of multitouch technology, meaning you can pinch the screen to zoom in and out. It lacks Flash support though, and when compared to other smartphones, the pinch to zoom function isn't as smooth, and text is not automatically reformatted when zooming. Other features of the Garmin-Asus A50 include a 3-megapixel camera with auto focus (but no flash), a built-in accelerometer, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a digital compass, a healthy 4GB of internal memory plus a microSD card slot.

The Garmin-Asus A50 is available for $0 on Optus' $49 Extreme Cap plan, which includes $450 worth of calls and text, 1GB of data and unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, eBay and Foursquare services.

Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters

Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @Goodgearguide

Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook: Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

td

1

why don't they put a 3.5 jack on the thing? I don't get it.

tempo dulu

2

I fail to understand why they didn't incorporate a 3.5mm headphone jack - utterly crucial in my opinion.

Raoul

3

Perhaps there was no S.P.A.C.E.??? - you can't charge through a 3.5 jack, but you can get audio via USB or Bluetooth. C'mon guys, look at what that little gizmo has already in-built short of an espresso machine, and then get a grip on yourself.

Dan

4

@Raoul they have every right to complain! Selling a phone without a 3.5 jack is like selling a car without tires... U just don't do that.

Post new comment

Users posting comments agree to the PC World comments policy.

Login or register to link comments to your user profile, or you may also post a comment without being logged in.

Alan

4.5

1

Pros
top nav, esp with Runkeeper
Cons
No 3.5mm Jack
• • •

I wanted to plug in a transmitter for a UDIRC Helicopter but the transmitter has a 3.5mm jack. I'm hoping a 5 pin mini usb to 3.5mm female cable/adapter will fix the problem. Anyone tried it? The adapters can be found on ebay for $1.

A50 owner

5.0

2

Pros
GPS, Price, durability
Cons
Slow Processor
• • •

I've had this phone for 14 months and it has been dropped, kicked and beaten within an inch of it's life and it still works a treat barring some responsiveness issues on Facebook at times. The processor is only 600Mhz so doesn't match up to the more expensive smartphones but for the price at Dick Smith you can't go wrong...just upgrade the android s/ware to 2.2 first up.

Ornaldo

4.5

3

Pros
garmin
Cons
andriod
• • •

Well, I own this phone without doing research on it. It just simply popped out at me. In my opinion I really like this phone. I've had it for about a year, and my horse just recently stepped on it (weighs about 1,200lbs) and it's doing just fine.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?