Busy weekend for the Google Phone, aka Nexus One

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Over the course of most weekends, any news devoted to technology is fairly limited. At most, you might see a handful of entries on most sites that cover these devices, so this weekend was slightly more exciting in that regard, with the unofficial unveiling of the next "it" smartphone, with thanks to the excited Google employees who hopped on Twitter.

Of course, I'm referring to the Google Phone, which we previously were led to believe was the HTC Passion, but has now been rechristened as the Nexus One. Confusing, isn't it? All names aside, what is important here are the specs that the Android-powered phone brings to the table.

While many of us have been salivating over the HTC HD2, while lamenting the inclusion of Windows Mobile 6.5 as the OS, there has always been the thought that a similar model would come out running Android 2.0 or newer.

Looks like that time is getting near, but will the Nexus One truly be a great phone when compared to what is already out there, or just another "me too" device?

At first glance, the Nexus One looks like a cross between the Sprint Hero and the Droid Eris from Verizon, borrowing the rubberized taupe-colored body from the former, and the touch controls on the lower screen bezel from the latter. Also, the ever-popular trackball is present, but the preferred method of input is the large capacitive touchscreen.

Nexus_one_fccUnclear at the moment is which carrier will be offering the phone, with most signs pointing to T-Mobile selling it as an unlocked and/or subsidized model with 3G capability on their network. I have read reports that this may be one of the first phones to utilize 3G bands on both AT&T and T-Mobile, but with Google's long-standing and successful relationship with Mrs. Michael Douglas' favorite network, I have a hard time believing that would change. It would serve AT&T well, though to hurry up and jump in the Android mix, because they are falling well behind everyone else.

The other hardware specs are what we expect from HTC, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and full set of wireless interfaces such as WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. The onboard camera is of the 5.0MP variety, capturing either stills or video. Nothing really new here, just more of the same old, same old.

On the software side, that is where things could get interesting, because the Nexus One is currently running Android 2.1, also known by its dessert-based name of Flan. Now we have another version of the OS out there, with many other phones still coming out with 1.6 or lower, especially the models using HTC's SenseUI in place of the default Google style.

Things should start to become more focused in the next month or so, and we will be able to see how Google plans to position the Nexus One. Will they be using it as a direct-sell vehicle for their Google Voice service, or will it simply be the next Android model for T-Mobile? Or could it be the follow-up to the original G1 developer phone?

Whatever comes of it, the Nexus One seems to be the new showcase device for Android, surpassing the Motorola Droid, which itself was the cat's meow less than two months ago. At this high rate of turnover, is the Nexus One really a phone worth fawning over or is it just another in a long line of pretenders to the throne upon which Apple has happily been perched?

For those of you waiting for an Android version of the HD2, is this the one for you?

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.