Review: Garmin Mobile for BlackBerry Smartphones

Garmin Mobile
By Team CrackBerry on 31 Mar 2010 12:07 pm
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[This review comes from our forum moderators chrisy520 and JeffH]

Garmin is a well-known name in the mobile and handheld GPS market. Garmin Mobile is one of the original GPS apps providing voice turn-by-turn directions for BlackBerry users. While there are numerous options for on-device GPS naviagtion, Garmin is one of the biggest names in the game. 

We reviewed Garmin Mobile version 5.4.5 using Verizon Tours running OS 4.7.1.61. Although Garmin's website states the only Verizon BlackBerry supported is the Storm, Garmin Mobile works on our Verizon Tours and presumably will work on any Verizon BlackBerry with autonomous GPS. Garmin has a free 7-day trial, so you can evaluate it for yourself.

Supported devices: BlackBerry devices equipped with GPS. This includes: 8110 & 8130 (Pearl with GPS), 8310 & 8330 (Curve with GPS), 8800, 8820, 8830 and 9530.

Supported carriers: AT&T, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon (Tour and Storm)

Garmin Mobile

The Main Menu gives you navigation (Where to?) and general mapping capability (View map). Traffic, Weather, Settings, and Exit complete the Main Menu.

Where to?

Garmin offers fast, accurate route updates. It can automatically route you around traffic and areas you want to avoid, such as ferries, toll roads, and car-pool lanes. When you are navigating, you can view all the upcoming steps by pressing Menu and selecting View Turns, then scrolling the trackball up and down. Scrolling left and right controls the volume.

Garmin Mobile

Garmin shows the estimated time of arrival, but the display is not helpful for multi-day trips and it does not display time remaining to destination. It does not display miles to destination, nor the current road, and there is no way to repeat a missed verbal instruction.

Garmin Mobile  

Garmin Mobile has bright, large, easy to recognize icons for common local search items such as Food, Hotels, Banks, ATMs, Shopping, Fuel, Attractions, Museums, Entertainment, Recreation, Post Offices, Car Washes and more.

Garmin Mobile

Garmin allows you to look up addresses in your contacts and save them to My Locations. You can also search by intersection, city, recent finds, or launch a Google Local Search. Unfortunately there is no jump-to-first-letter capability in My Locations, so navigating around the list can be tedious if you have a large list. Also, there is no way to send or share a location with another user. Two neat features are Panoramio and Flight Status.

Garmin Mobile 

Panoramio by Google works the same as it does in Google Earth. You see thumbnails of pictures people have posted. Click on the picture and you can get directions to the picture location. You can also see other options around the area of the picture, such as Find Nearby, View Traffic, and View Weather.

Flight Status lets you choose Airports Nearby or Choose a City. You can check status by Flight Number or by Arrival or Departure City. The airlines and flight from / to the selected city to your airport are listed alphabetically. Flight and airport data is provided by FlightStats.com.

View Map

View map shows you the map of your current location. Unlike Where To mode, the maps in View Map mode do not have the option to rotate to show direction of travel up. If you are going North and turn right, you will move to the right on the map. If you turn right again, you will be moving down on the map, which can be confusing, as it appears to reverse left and right for turns.

Garmin Mobile 

Traffic

Traffic mode shows you a list of construction sites, congested areas, accidents and "accumulating traffic" and the potential impact on travel time. If you enter a City in the City icon under Where To, you can see the traffic in locations other than where you are at the time. If you select View Map, you can see the map of the area around the congestion, accident, etc, with icons showing location of the problem.

Garmin Mobile 

Weather

Weather gives you a six day forecast with hi/lo temps, chance of precipitation and conditions for your location. Just like with Traffic, if you enter a City in the City icon under Where To, you can see the weather in locations other than where you are at the time.

Garmin Mobile 

Settings

Settings lets you specify Avoidances, choose which Points of Interest are shown, and Route Preferences (faster time or shorter distance). You can also specify whether a Route is optimized for Car/Motorcycle, Pedestrians, or Bicycles. In Route view, you have the choice of Track Up (2D), North Up (2D), and 3D (which always shows Track Up). Color Mode gives you the choice of Daytime, Night time, and Auto, similar to Garmin handheld units. Locale lets you specify units (statute or metric), Fahrenheit or Celsius temperatures, and 12 or 24-hr time format.

Garmin Mobile 

License

Garmin Mobile has a free 7-day trial. After that, it is $99 for the lifetime of your device. It is important to note the license is transferable to another device under very restricted conditions, as shown in the Terms of Service. https://my.garmin.com/mygarmin/blackberryEulaPage.htm

This One-Time Purchase subscription applies to only one (1) Device. During the first twelve (12) months of your subscription, if your original Device becomes non-operational you may be permitted, at Garmin's sole discretion, to make a one-time transfer of the Garmin Mobile Application to another supported Blackberry Device. To make a request for such transfer, please contact the Garmin Customer Service department via http://www.garmin.com/garmin/cms/site/us/support/supportcontact. No transfers are permitted, for any reason, after twelve (12) months from the purchase of your subscription. Although software fixes, updates and patches are included in the One-Time Purchase, a free upgrade to the next version(s) of Garmin Mobile is not.

CrackBerry users have reported that Garmin is more generous with transfers than these terms indicate, but you should not plan on making a free transfer for a non-warranty reason.

Conclusion

Garmin Mobile for BlackBerry provides an acceptable audible turn-by-turn GPS solution that is not tied to a specific carrier and, more importantly, does not have to be billed to your phone account. That may make it an option for corporate users who don't have control of their accounts. Verizon users may prefer the additional features and capabilities of VZNav. Garmin Mobile is available for a one-time $99 fee, subject to the license terms discussed above.

Pros

  • Audible Turn By Turn Directions
  • Free Trial
  • One-time fee with limited transferability
  • Available for multiple platforms
  • Large, bright icons
  • Fast Route updates
  • Integrated with BlackBerry contacts within app

Cons

  • No Jump To in Favorites
  • Cannot share locations, addresses, directions
  • Does not display miles to destination
  • Does not display time remaining to destination
  • Does not display current road
  • No way to repeat audible direction

To learn more about Garmin Mobile for BlackBerry and download the free trial, go to garmin.com/mobile/garminmobile

43 comments

UrbanGlowCam

I agree with most of the things on this review. I'm just curious if they'll ever update the Blackberry app. I've been using it for more than a year and it hasn't changed. It'd be nice to see some of those CONS listed to be included.

mattpowell19

I use Garmin GPS for my curve 8900 and I love it. It talks to me and everything. I wouldn't use any other GPS program if I didn't have to.

nyc_rock

Garmin is the only app that I know of that does not charge you a monthly fee which made it my first choice. the review is accurate and as Urban said above, it has not been updated since I started using it. I believe its over a year now. That kind of support is pretty pathetic if you ask me. It works pretty well although sometimes the audible directions are the opposite of what you see on screen. for instance, the map will show you should turn right but the audible will be turn left. Bizzare behavior. the goods news is that Garmin has been very quick to re-issue activation codes after a device switch. The bad new, again, is that Garmin has done nothing to improve the program in a looooooooooong time. maybe they have spent to much time on that "great" device, the Nuviphone (puke).

ralarosa

I also have conflicting spoken directions from time to time. It's a distinctly different voice. Garmin Tech Support said to uninstall, upgrade the OS, then re-install, blaming it on a previous version. Umm, I only installed one version. It also seems to take forever to fix on the sats on my 8900

scgamecock10

seems like a really weakass app for 99 dollars. the free sprint navigation i have apparently is much better according to this review. The fact that the map doesn't rotate, and that there is no miles or time remaining is ridiculous for a gps app, from an established gps company, not to have. I wouldn't buy this app for more than 9.99. Hell for 125 bucks you can buy a legit gps device that works much better. Total thumbs down.

afropoika

Offline Maps / Navigation, possible?

Pudge78

my VZ Navigator. Although it's $9.99 a month it gets updated and runs just as good with turn by turn and voice details.

ecs racing

http://www8.garmin.com/mobile/blackberry/bblounge.jsp

I used the above link for my Tour and saved $20. $79.99 is a much better price. Enjoy! ;-)

chosen1_88

I got it at the $79.99 price and had to transfer the license over to another phone after 6 months due to warranty issues. The Garmin rep was very helpful and allowed me to do so without any hassle.

The app itself doesn't look as pretty as a standalone GPS, but after using aMaze and the now defunct Nav4All, Garmin is certainly the better choice. However, with Google Maps Navigation and a glut of new free turn by turn apps for other devices, can Garmin still charge a premium for BB users?

@afropoika Garmin needs data service as it can't store the maps offline. This is due to a limitation of BB that requires all apps to be stored in device memory, and maps can exceed 1 GB, far larger than the internal storage memory available on all BBs.

rizzzzoooo

Those are some big cons!!! Does not display current road!!! Does not display miles left to destination?!! WTH.....Isn't that pretty much standard on GPS's nowadays?

eguelch

No free trial for 8900 = not buying. Google maps works just fine for me, and I deliver all over LA

Thrangor

On my Storm all I have to do to repeat an audible voice prompt for direction is to click the screen. I have been using Garmin for over a year and I love it.

marker580

On my 9700, I can get it to repeat verbal instructions by clicking the trackpad.

jasonvw

Too bad no offline maps. Honestly why doesnt anyone do this for BB? Guess I'll stick with google maps and BBmaps for when Im in a jam, and use my s60 phone for planned trips.

Wisepilot is another good nav option for BB. Not many people know of it though.

CheekySheDevil

TeleNav does give you offline maps.

jasonvw

Alright. Got it installed. now just got to figure out how to install maps.

Thanks for the headsup. If this works, one less reason to leave bb to go back to s60. Next up is a proper voip app. :)

CheekySheDevil

After you install TeleNav, run it once with the GPS. Maps will (normally) automatically install & reference the maps from the TeleNav.com site. Good Luck!

SirThale

I had tried the 7-day trial on 8330 devices on US Cellular also. However, after upgrading to an 8530 I can no longer use it, in spite of the fact that the 8530 also has GPS. It seems to be an OS 5 issue. Given the lack of changes others have reported on, perhaps they are not planning to port the app to work with OS 5?

nyc_rock

Storm, tour, bold 9700 all support it.

AFriske

I love this app and use it a lot. The biggest let down for me is that it does not support bluetooth on the Tour. So, there is no way to have the directions given through my car's speakers. (I have the BB Visor car kit). Luckily the speaker on the Tour itself is loud. I contacted Garmin and they said they could not make the voice clear enough through bluetooth so they omitted it.

CheekySheDevil

June & Ward have a Garmin... But, I'm more interested in the Google Navigation. Any eta on when that's hitting the BlackBerry market?

gorgalis

You can find it online for $79. Overall I would say it is a great gps app, but I do agree with your list of cons... except for "•No way to repeat audible direction". Maybe you can't on the tour, but you can on the storm. All you have to do is click the screen and it repeats your next turn.

seanecy

Had it for a while, you can see what street your on and you CAN get it to repeat the next turn as many times as you want,.....bad review....unfair.

wirelessgal

I tried downloading the free trial and it says it doesn't apply to the 9700. Was anyone else successful in getting the free trial to work on the 9700?

ipanalogdave

No problems using the trial on my 9700.

wirelessgal

How did you get it working on the 9700? I tried several times and it won't work.

wirelessgal

How did you get it working on the 9700? I tried several times and it won't work.

rynoondew

i have had this app since storm 1 came out.. and now on my storm 2... I couldn't live without it!

pratik.patel

First off I have been using it since Feb 09 and it's great.
It may not tell you directly how much longer but it posts your time of arrival at your destination on the bottom right corner of the navigation screen. It also post your rate of travel (M/KPH).

I use the Google local search the most, as I find typing the name of my destination easier than the actual address ie. Empire State Building rather than 5th ave and 33rd street ny, ny

I echo ECS Racing's post, that you use the discount link for 20% off: http://www8.garmin.com/mobile/blackberry/bblounge.jsp

Not sure why CB couldn't provide the same type of link, so we wouldn't have to go to BBLounge.

I just got off the phone w/ Garmin, as the article states that v. 5.4.5 was tested on the Tour and I only currently have v. 5.4.2 on my Storm 9530. The representative that answered said that the actual application has not been updated in over a year and that the version number difference is due to the fact that Garmin has used the incremental version number increases to distinguish each individual version of Garmin Mobile that is available for each different BB model.

Hope that clears some things up.

andy957

Is this available for Bell or Rogers?

mrnavigation

I'm using vz navigator on my unlocked storm so I pay nothing for gps...and I'm on tmobile as well...so I pretty much wuldnt buy this app just cause vz navigator has all the features garmin doesn't have

chrisesau

I am running this on my bold 9000 on rogers and have no problems with it. It is version 5.0.5 I believe. I shows me my eta, has a favorites spot. As well as I can repeat the latest direction by pressing the track ball. I have been running this for about 3 months.

Palm tree

You can look something up in Google, then navigate to it. That is really the killer capability in this app. Works fine with bluetooth and my Verizon Tour.

aallison1882

Tried a free-trial of this app and it was great if you never used VzNav. VzNav has more features that I see as critical for any gps app such as distance to go and time to go. VzNav seemed slightly easier to use too. Garmin will walk you to the door and has multiple functions to find things around you but VzNav seems more robust in this area as well. VzNav is in its continually revamping its events and movies locator as well as other features. If I didn't have VzNav I'd probably use this as my gps but I'd rather pay the little extra for the features VzNav has but would settle for this app if I didn't have VzNav.

medic31rm

I downloaded this trial software on my Blackberry Tour 9630. My carrier is Cellular South. It works perfectly. So I guess that means it will work on more than just Verizon phones. I will continue to try it for the next 7 days. I don't know if I will keep it or not since I have a Tom Tom and a Magellan GPS that I use. Will update later.

mrsoul41

i have this for my storm. it does repeat the audible directions if you press the screen.

elliotbbs

"*Except for the Storm, Verizon devices are not supported by this trial. "

above stated at the end of the article BUT

When i tried to download the app on my STORM the message was:

"Sorry, but the 7 day trial of Garmin Mobile is not supported on this blackberry devise.

elliotbbs

could it be it didn't recognize my storm because i'm using V5.0.0.419 instead of Verizon os?

onlineaddy

I have v5.4.0 on my Storm. Where can I get the updated v5.4.2 for my device?

ScottieG59

I have employed the license transfer on two replacement phones. I also got the discounted $79.00 price. I have found customer service to be prompt and courteous.

The program display does show the estimated arrival time. That is the time displayed on the lower left. It warns when you should change lanes before you get caught in those highway splits. I have old man eyes and other programs have text that is too small for me to see. This display is simple but shows enough to be actionable.

I live in a rural area and I was surprised it knew where my driveway was. My address is on street but the entrance to my property is on another road.

I tried the TeleNav GPS Navigator but the text was too small and when I passed a turn I chose to avoid, it would not recalculate. It kept telling me to do a U-turn. Garmin recalculates which I prefer.

The simple interface is perfect for getting somewhere. I do not want complex while driving.

lmengerink

LifeInPocket provides audio turn-by-turn and was free. It works for my limited GPS needs.

jutanan

can send me the link for download ? tq