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Google Nexus One available now for pre-order on Vodafone

Vodafone is the first network outside the US to sell the Google Nexus One, which is available today to pre-order -- shipments are expected on 5 May

We loved the massive screen and Android power of the Google Nexus One, but until now you could only get one by ordering it unlocked from Google in the US, without a contract to help ease the trauma of paying full whack.

As of today though, you can order the phone from Vodafone's Web site, with Big Red estimating delivery on 5 May. The phone is free on a 24-month contract from £35 a month.

But wait! The HTC Desire, which is almost identical to the Google Nexus One -- but in our opinion, even better -- is also available from Vodafone for free, but on a cheaper £30 a month contract. Both contracts offer 600 minutes and unlimited texts, although with the Nexus One you get 1GB of data compared to 500MB for the Desire, and access to the BT Openzone Wi-Fi network.

The most important difference between the two phones is the user interface -- the Nexus One offers pure, unadulterated Android, whereas the Desire has HTC's slick Sense UI. Sense adds some handy features and includes sexy-looking widgets, but having it could mean you don't get Android updates as quickly. The HTC Hero, which also has the Sense UI, is languishing with Android 1.5 when the latest phones are taunting it with version 2.1 -- but unless you're a phone-software aficionado, we don't think it's much of a loss.

Vodafone is the only network outside the US that's currently selling the Google Nexus One, but the HTC Desire is available on several networks. Check out our mobile deals section to compare prices for the Desire.