In what wasn’t the biggest surprise in recent history, Garmin announced yesterday that it intends to release its first GSM phone in Q3 of this year. Dubbed nuvifone (no, not moviefone), the virgin Garmin offering is a sleek touchscreen device with an all-too-familiar form factor. Garmin’s own OS will drive the nuvifone and specs are very limited for the time being. Of course it will pack high-quality navigation that is similar if not identical to the software found in current nuvi devices, and it will ship in the US with North American maps preloaded. Garmin scores serious points by stuffing HSDPA into the slender device; presumably 850/1900 for AT&T network compatibility. The 3.5″ touchscreen doesn’t hurt either. Other items noted in the announcement are integrated email and IM functionality, Google local search and support for Garmin online services such as traffic, weather, fuel prices and hotel discounts. The nuvifone will also include a video capture-capable camera and MP3 / MPEG4 / AAC support. The UI images that are available make it look, well, very plain. There appears to be plenty of empty white space on most of the screenshots which is good for visibility and bad for wow-ability. Then again, there is plenty of time between now and the end of the 3rd quarter so there’s no telling what the release version might look like. Pricing on the nuvifone was not covered during the announcement but we’ll update you with more info as soon as we have it. Truth be told, it looks pretty sweet. Garmin made an interesting choice by using their own OS however. We have to wonder how long it will be before we get some SDK action.