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CTIA 2006

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All CDMA phones sold in the States these days have GPS technology. When people hear that, many of them want to know if the phone can display your current latitude and longitude. However it works a little different than a standalone GPS unit that you might use for hiking, etc, so unfortunately the answer in most cases is no.

There are a few phones starting to hit the market with GPS APIs for Java or BREW that enable LBS (Location-Based Services) to run on the phone that can do mapping, etc. (The Motorola V323/V325 and Sanyo 7500 are two of these phones.) Yet these applications still require help from the network, so these phones still do not come with the built-in ability to display your coordinates.

But a couple of new Nokia phones are about to hit the market that change that. Not only will they work with third-party Java or BREW LBS software, but they also have a standalone GPS mode, and come with a built-in set of GPS tools that can display your latitude and longitude, and much more.

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The just-announced (and very sleek) 6175 is one of the phones with this feature. The other is the 6165, which we hear will launch with Sprint very soon.

The basic display shows a neat graphic indicating which GPS satellites you're receiving data from and the signal strength. Because it works in standalone mode, it takes a little while to get a fix, and it doesn't work well indoors. (The same is true for standalone handheld GPS units.)

Another application helps guide you to a predefined location (like a camp site or geocaching waypoint.) Yet another provides a "breadcrumbs" function to help you find your way back the way you came. A "trip computer" function gives you a readout of data on where you're going and where you've been, just like a car's trip computer.

The tools don't include full mapping and turn-by-turn directions, although these phones will work with third-party software that does that, and Nokia was demonstrating such software at CTIA.

It's up to carriers whether to include this suite of tools or disable it. We really hope carriers like Sprint and Verizon choose to leave it in. It would be great to have a phone to recommend when people ask for a small phone with "real" GPS.

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