Google has finally launched its much-anticipated smartphone, Nexus One, which aims to rival Apple’s iPhone. The device, made by Taiwanese company HTC, will be sold through Google’s website from today and initially be available on T-mobile in the US followed by Vodafone in the UK in the first quarter of 2010.
A Vodafone spokesman said it was the first operator to “bring the Google phone to the UK” but stressed it was a “non-exclusive agreement”, meaning that other networks could also offer it soon. Direct from Google the sim-free handset will cost £331. Google said the phone would ship from launch day.
Users will be able to browse the web, take photos, play games, access Facebook, use Google News and Google Maps. The phone also has two microphones which enables the user to cut out background noise when making a phone call.
It has a bigger screen – 3.7in-long – than the iPhone and also boasts a more powerful 5 megapixel camera. It will have a 4GB memory but Nexus One owners will have the option of adding a 32GB memory card.
It has up to 10 hours of talk time on 2G or seven hours on 3G on a fully charged battery and up to five hours of Internet use on a 3G network or 6.5 hours on a Wi-Fi network.
The phone was unveiled by Google chiefs Sergey Brin and Larry Page during simultaneous webcasts from the firm’s headquarters in California and London.
The announcement comes on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual Las Vegas event showcasing the latest consumer tech trends and gadgets, which officially opens to a keynote address from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
The phone will use software Android 2.1 – also designed by Google.
Mario Queiroz, Google vice- president for product management, described the unveiling as “the next stage in the evolution of Android”. Queiroz said there were now more than 20 Android phones available from 59 carriers in 48 nations.
The release of the Nexus One is seen as a move to ensure Google remains relevant as people search the web using mobile phones rather than typing queries into a PC. Google makes most of its revenue by selling adverts linked to those queries.
Google also announced on 5 January a plan to launch “pay to call” adverts that would appear on mobile phones. These would work in a similar way to the “pay to click” adverts that populate many websites and which form a significant chunk of Google’s revenue.
Figures from Gartner suggest that Android has about a 3.5% share of the global smartphone market. By comparison Nokia has a 39% share and Apple 17%.
The phone was named after a type of cyborg in Ridley Scott’s science fiction film Blade Runner.
NEXUS ONE HANDSET- KEY FEATURES
3.7 inch touchscreen
1GHz snapdragon processor
5 Megapixel camera with LED flash
GPS and compass
Noise cancellation technology
Voice recognition can be used with all applications
Light sensor changes screen brightness to conserve power
512MB Flash memory with SD card slot (expandable to 32GB)