The Google Nexus One -- the 'Google phone' -- has flown out of the mist of rumour and speculation, but it's more of a snowball to the side of the head than an out-of-control freight train of awesomeness. In a nutshell, it's a new smart phone from HTC, makers of the Crave-favourite Hero, just with a Google logo. But is it a game-changer or just more of a good thing?
There's no doubt the Nexus One is packed with fantastic smart-phone features. It's the first phone to run version 2.1 of Google's Android operating system, and there's a 1GHz Snapdragon processor inside to keep things snappy. The Nexus One will come with 512MB of built-in memory and include a 4GB microSD card.
The phone definitely has us drooling, but Google's gambit isn't actually to get into making phones -- the release of Android was its bid to revolutionise mobiles. Instead, it wants to change how phones are sold with an easy-to-use Web site where people can pick up the Nexus One and its future siblings, either SIM-free or with a contract from a choice of networks. That sounds pretty standard to us in the UK, but in the US people tend to be tied to particular operators, many phones don't work across a choice of networks, and SIM-free mobiles are uncommon.
So is all the hype surrounding the Nexus One justified? Yes and no. The phone looks exciting, and if it lives up to the standard set by previous HTC Android phones, its fresh features and big, bright screen will definitely make it a contender for king of the droids. But we don't think Google's emphasis on its online shop will cause much excitement in our green and pleasant land.
The phone is available for sale unlocked and SIM-free today at the Google phone Web site for $529 (£330), and we're thrilled that Google is happy to ship to the UK. It's also suggested to buy a UK power adaptor and you have to pay for shipping, bringing the total to $578.64 (£360.93) -- which we think is a fantastic price for what promises to be an excellent phone, although we'd suggest you wait for the reviews to come out unless you're already turning purple from holding your breath. If you don't want to go SIM-free, Google says that the Nexus One will also be available bundled with a Vodafone tariff in Europe starting in spring this year.
Click 'Continue' to get up close and personal with the Nexus One and its features.
Update: We wrote that you're forced to buy the UK charger, but although the charger is automatically added to your purchase, you can remove it before you check out.
Google says the phone will be shipped by DHL, which says it charges £1.25, or 2 per cent of the total duty and VAT incurred, whichever is greater. That means another £1.27 if you get the phone and the charger.
The Nexus One has a 94mm (3.7-inch) AMOLED screen, four touch-sensitive buttons and a trackball that lights up with coloured LEDs to let you know you've got an email, for example.
The back sports a 5-megapixel camera with and LED photo light, and the option to automatically upload your photos to Google's Picasa photo Web site.
The Nexus One supports live wallpapers, which show animations that can also be touch sensitive. New widgets allow you to fill the home screens with live data -- the weather outside your cubicle, for example.
Browse your pictures and Picasa Web Albums with fun 3D transitions in the refreshed photo gallery.
We're still waiting for Google's sat-nav system, Google Maps Navigation, to come to the UK, but we're already in love with it. We've become addicted to the accuracy and slickness of Google Maps on our mobiles, and adding turn-by-turn navigation would make it even better -- but although Google says it wants to bring the feature to the UK, there's no news on when that might be.
The Nexus One has a voice-recognition feature that Google says will let you dictate into any text field -- a truly awesome feature, if it works, but even Google calls it "experimental".
All that Android 2.1 power is packed into a wafer-thin 11.5mm body -- and you can even have the back engraved for free, if you want to throw re-sale value to the wind.
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