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Garmin's $650 Android navigator is one chip away from being an ugly smartphone

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Nearly three years after admitting defeat in the hyper-competitive smartphone market, Garmin is edging close to the same territory with the introduction of its latest outdoor GPS unit, the Monterra. This 4-inch Android device is priced very much like a flagship phone — costing $649.99 internationally or $699.99 in the US — but eschews the one feature that actually makes those handsets worth having: cellular connectivity. There's Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth, but no 3G (or even 2G) radio. The curious thing is that, with Play Store access and an 8-megapixel camera, the Monterra has everything else it needs to be a niche choice for outdoor adventurers.

As it is, Garmin will seek to justify its pricing on the basis of the preloaded maps and multiplicity of integrated sensors on the Monterra, which is also waterproof and can be powered by AA batteries. Still, you'd expect a little more than a barometric altimeter to divert your money away from better-connected competitors like the Galaxy S4 Active or Xperia Z. Even though it's not back in the smartphone game, Garmin might find its hardware sales victimized by smartphones once again.