Google Delivers Nexus One 'Super Phone'
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Google's smartphone cat is finally out of the bag. The search giant unveiled the rumored Nexus Phone, a new smartphone developed in conjunction with HTC at an event today here at its headquarters, known as the Googleplex.
In addition to new features, Google is shaking up the established way of smartphone distribution by offering the phone exclusively through its own online store at a price of $179 with a two-year service contract. The Nexus One is also available unlocked, meaning it is not tied to any carrier, without a service contract for $529.
While the initial service provider will be T-Mobile, Google said it has an agreement with Verizon Wireless to offer the Nexus One this spring in the U.S. and via Vodafone in Europe.
"The Nexus One belongs in a new category we called 'super phones,'" said Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management at Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).
In a demo, Google's senior product manager, Eric Tseng, went through a number of hardware and software features (including the latest version of the Android mobile operating system, version 2.1) he said make the device stand out.
Google worked with Cooliristo include rich 3D effects for viewing groups of photos. On the hardware side, the phone features a 3.7-inch LED display and 5 megapixel camera.
There were some flashy software features that are part of Android 2.1, including "live" wallpaper that ripples to the touch and shimmers in response to music. A metal strip on the back is available for engraving at time of purchase for user to personalize the phone.
The Nexus One runs on a 1GHz Snapdragonprocessor from Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), which Tseng said makes it faster than other phones on the market for running multiple applications. "You won't see the slow down you see running multiple apps on other devices," said Tseng.
The phone includes a trackball for navigation that also has a multicolored LED behind it that serves as a notification tool. For example, the LED pulses white when a new e-mail arrives and blue when a new call is coming in. At 11.5 millimeters, Tseng said Nexus One is about the thickness of a No. 2 pencil and at 130 grams weighs about the same as small keychain Swiss Army knife.
Voice recognition features
The Nexus does not have a physical keyboard, just the virtual, touchscreen one. However Google showed off the latest Google voice recognition software used as for navigation that's part of Android 2.1. In the demo, Tseng used his voice to compose an email and also to find a location using Google Earth.
In response to a question on whether the Nexus One design indicated physical keyboards weren't in future plans, Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering at Google said that simply that "voice input gives consumers another option."
"We believe different people have a preference for different form factors," said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. "HTC's strategy is to develop a product portfolio that best fits the needs of different consumers."
Rubin said they settled on the 'super phone' designation to recognize the advances made in mobile hardware and software including the gigahertz processor, increased storage and openness of the app store model. "This is as powerful as your laptop was four years ago and it's always on," said Rubin. "That's all new."