Google's Nexus One details: what we know so far

For all that we know about the Google phone, its business model — arguably the most interesting thing — is a question mark.

Google's pretty good at keeping its Web and search developments secret, but it's quickly learning that hardware's a different beast, as details on the Nexus One, a.k.a. the Google Phone, are leaking all over the Internet.

The Official Story

Google has developed an Android phone exclusively for its employees, for the purpose of testing and collecting feedback. An unnamed hardware partner has created what Google calls a "mobile lab" to "experiment with new mobile features and capabilities," with employees around the globe chipping in. Everything else you've heard, from the name to the photos to the specs, comes from unnamed sources via the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, Boy Genius Report and others.

The Specs

According to Engadget, the Nexus One measures a little over 0.45 inches thick, and has a 3.7-inch OLED touch screen. It could possibly run Qualcomm's 1GHz QSD 8250 "Snapdragon" processor, and has 512 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM and a 4 GB microSD card included, expandable to 32 GB. The camera has a 5MP sensor, mechanical auto focus and LED flash, and could also include 2x optical zoom (this wasn't mentioned in a hands-on report from Gizmodo). Unsurprising frills include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, accelerometers and a compass.

The Interface

I'd recommend you check out the YouTube video, which was uploaded yesterday. The Android 2.1 interface isn't a dramatic change over Android 2.0, but it looks smooth given the shaky camerawork. A hands-on report from Gizmodo notes that the phone is considerably faster than the Droid, and even beat out the iPhone in multiple Web page loading tests. The screen is also noticeably better than that of the Droid, despite being the same size and resolution. This could be the rumored 1 GHz processor at work. Multitouch was not evident in the browser or map.

The Carrier

Reuters has reported that in addition to the usual carrier subsidy route, Google will sell the Nexus One unlocked and unsubsidised, but all signs point to T-Mobile as the carrier of choice. The HSPA 900/1700/2100 support cited in Engadget's specs suggest that only T-Mobile's 3G service will work on the phone, so AT&T users would be stuck with the slower EDGE.

The Price and Release Date

A T-Mobile source tells PC World that the carrier won't have anything to announce at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, so don't hold your breath. We don't know how much this phone will cost, and suggestions that the Nexus One will subsidise itself with ads are just speculation. A rumor at Android and Me says the price will be US$199, but it's a vague report that doesn't describe how the subsidy will work. For all that we know about the Google phone, its business model — arguably the most interesting thing about it — remains a big question mark.

Ginny Mies contributed to this report.

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