Google unveils Nexus One

After weeks of sightings and rumors, Google finally unveiled its Nexus One Android phone.

We knew it was coming, but we had to wait for Google to spill the news before we could talk about it with authority. And the company did so Tuesday morning at a press conference at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif.

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As expected, the Nexus One is a new Google Android phone that offers an inside designed by Google and an outside designed by HTC. According to Google's Mario Queiroz, the Nexus One is a "superphone" where the Web meets the cell phone. "It's an exemplar of what mobile phones can do with Android," he said. The handset will be available first for GSM carriers like T-Mobile, but a Verizon version will follow.

Though its slim (0.45 inch), lightweight (4.58 ounces) touch-screen design doesn't stand out from the current Android crowd, it offers a loaded feature set with a few notable offerings, including a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor.

The Nexus One's media gallery interface. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

The primary interface is a 3.7-inch AMOLED display with five customizable home screens. The Nexus One runs the Android 2.1 OS and the WVGA display can show 3D graphics. The trackball below the display lets you navigate menus, but also lights up to alert you to new messages. We're pleased that HTC added a 3.5mm headset jack.

As described by Erick Tseng, Google's senior product manager for the Nexus One project, the feature set includes everything you'd expect from an Android phone and adds a couple of unique goodies. Inside you'll find a GPS with Google Maps and turn-by-turn navigation, an accelerometer, a virtual keyboard, a light sensor for adjusting the display to save battery power, a proximity sensor, a compass, a 5-megapixel camera with a LED flash, Wi-Fi, a new media gallery interface with access to Picasa and YouTube, Facebook access, and stereo Bluetooth. Tethering and multitouch are not yet supported and app storage will be limited to the 512MB of internal memory.

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The Nexus One will be the first Android handset to offer noise cancellation, with two microphones (one on the bottom of the handset and one on back) that will adjust the volume level according to the background noise in your environment. It also delivers more voice command options than existing Android handsets. Among other things, you'll be able to update your Facebook status, compose a text, and search the new Android Google Earth app using only your voice.

Customization is also a theme. "Live wallpapers" will use the 3D-display technology to display new backgrounds and you'll be able to engrave the back of the phone with a personalized message.

The Nexus One will be available today exclusively through Google's online store at www.google.com/phone. Customers in the United States can buy it without service and unlocked for $529. You'll be able to use the quad-band world phone with any GSM carrier, but it will only support 3G networks used by T-Mobile in the United States. AT&T uses different 3G bands, so anyone using the handset on the carrier will be stuck on EDGE.

Google's Eric Tseng on Nexus One

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You also can buy the Nexus One with T-Mobile service for $179. That handset will be unlocked as well, but you'll have to sign a T-Mobile contract. Outside the United States, customers in the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Hong Kong can purchase a phone.

Of course, the Google store-only purchase model marks a change in how cell phones are sold in this country. More devices will be added to the Google Store. The store will also expand to more countries and more carriers, including Verizon, which will join the program. What's more, Verizon will sell a CDMA version of the Nexus One in the future.

Though most of CNET is off to CES 2010, we'll have a full review of the Nexus One this week. Stay tuned.


An advertisement for the Nexus One is now playing on YouTube.

 

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