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"Nexus One" Is Google's Android Phone 233

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the better-than-the-oculus-one dept.
xchg writes "It's still not called the 'Google Phone,' but the Nexus One — to be made by HTC — is as close as I think we're going to get. The WSJ cites sources familiar with Google's plans and says that Google has designed this handset and plans to sell it directly to consumers, unlocked."
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"Nexus One" Is Google's Android Phone

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  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday December 14, 2009 @10:57AM (#30430988)

    It runs stock Android, so on the software side there's nothing that actually sets it apart from any other Android handset on the market.

    If it's actually running stock Android that might be what IS setting it apart. IIRC, the majority of the Android phones are using customized UI's. While great for trying to establish loyalty to specific phone, having all those different interfaces isn't good for trying to establish loyalty to an actual platform as Google is trying to do. It's kinda like Redhat, SUSE, and the like all throwing their own interfaces onto Gnome. Sure, it's nice, but for the sake of being familiar with almost any Linux box I sit down to I prefer for things to run the plain old Gnome interface instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:16AM (#30431208)
    Most americans seem to have quite a hard time comparing prices simply because most of the time your carriers subsidize so much of the actual price. Here are some prices from one of the cheaper web stores in Finland. Please note that these have taxes included and probably the "europeans are idiots" bonus (1 dollar = 1 euro) iPhone 3GS 32GB - 528 euro (+ 12 month contract with "normal" prices) iPhone 3G 8GB - 396 euro (+12 month contract with "normal" prices) HTC Hero - 489.90 euro (no contract) Motorola Milestone - 549.90 euro (no contract + 50 euro for localized keyboard) Nokia N900 - 569.00 euro (no contract) Samsung Galaxy i7500 - 489.90 euro( no contract) Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Android - 749.90 euro (no contract) Based on these it would seem that most top of the line phones actually cost around 500 - 600 euro (that is probably 500$-600$ in US) and even correlates pretty nicely with release schedule. Don't get the price on the Sony Ericsson, though it isn't actually out yet I think.
  • by wc_paladin (989918) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:17AM (#30431218)
    If they have coverage in your area, you could get on T-Mobile's "Even More Plus" plan. It's contract free, and has no subsidized phones, so the monthly fee is a good bit less.
  • Re:Unlocked FTW (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:19AM (#30431238)

    Agreed. I've always just gone out, bought a new phone outright, and whacked my existing SIM card in it when I got home. None of this contract crap. But from what I can tell it is very hard/impossible to do that in the US? Which sucks ... I hate being tied to a particular carrier (and besides I have several SIM cards floating around that I tend to use in different situations).

    Even worse, the US phones I've seen actually brand the phone hardware/firmware itself with the carriers logo and stuff. Wtf?! The phone should have NOTHING to do with the carrier. The analogy you made with brand X Wifi cards only working with brand X hotspots is a good one.

  • by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:29AM (#30431372)

    Only in the US is the Droid a CDMA phone (see my previous comment further up about the Droid name.. it annoys me). The phone is however available in Europe in a GSM variant known as the Motorola Sholes/Milestone. The currently frequency bands though means it is relegated to edge speeds in the US as neither ATT nor Tmobile use the 900/2100 for 3g (UMTS/HSPA) that the phone has.

    However if you go peruse the canadian motorola site, the Canadian version of the Sholes/Milestone uses 850/1900 for 3g, which is what ATT uses.... but its not available yet :(

    Tmobile gets screwed either way as they use 1700 for 3G.. so unless the phone was made specifically for Tmo US, you will not get 3G speeds.

  • by christianT (604736) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:29AM (#30431380)

    Your bill doesn't go down because the majority of Americans don't understand that they are paying for their "free" or "discounted" phone over the life of the contract. They think they really got a free phone or a discount. They figure their monthly bill is strictly covering their monthly usage of the service. Therefore, the cell phone service providers can get away with it.

  • by the ReviveR (1106541) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:38AM (#30431492)
    I also love my N900. Too bad most americans probably won't be seeing it. There is no way any carrier will subsidize N900.

    Why?
    • Tethering (usb/bluetooth) - Bluetooth makes this too easy, No need for extra software, no need to even take the phone out of pocket
    • Loads of free apps with stuff like Star Control 2 (includes 130 Mb voice & music pack) - lots of network traffic with no slice for the carrier
    • torrent client (Transmission) - carriers will love this ;)
    • When you try calling someone, N900 opens a list with GSM / Skype / SMS /Email /IM for the person - Guess whether people will choose GSM or SMS if they have choice...
    • The same internet/video traffic that iPhone has plus then some from using apps like Google maps, other Flash stuff etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:42AM (#30431582)

    Now the bigger issue I have is with ATT, who while also subsidizes the phones, absolutely refuses to provide the unlock code to remove the simlock in place on their phones, even after you have completed your 2 year contractual obligation.. so if I want to switch to tmobile, I have to buy a new phone, that is absolutely bogus, and needs to be fixed, granted I have unlocked every phone I have every had, and for the most part I pay more for some unlocked devices, but thats not th epoint.

    After the third month of your contract, tell AT&T you want to take your phone with you on your upcoming trip to Europe, but that you want to unlock the phone so you can use European pre-paid SIM cards in it. They will add International Roaming to your account (drop it on the website later), and then either unlock your phone remotely or give you the number.

    My grandmother had an AT&T phone which I wanted to use on T-Mobile. I gave it to a friend who has AT&T service, who got the unlock code and then gave it back to me.

    (Submitted Anonymously to protect the guilty.... :) )

  • by Itchyeyes (908311) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:43AM (#30431588) Homepage

    I've seen people discuss this in other places and I just don't buy it, at least not in the near term. There are already lots of phones sold as unlocked-only in the US (see just about every smartphone made by Nokia), and carriers don't currently offer rate discounts for them simply because they're not taking advantage of the subsidy. In order for the Nexus One to have enough force in the market to force the carrier's hand on rates for unsubsidized phones it's going to have to be tremendously successful (I'm thinking iPhone-like numbers). The problem is that in order to do that, they have to sell the phone unsubsidized with the same rates as subsidized phones. Which makes the cost quite a bit more than competing, subsidized phones. Which makes it all the much harder to reach the critical mass where they can exert pressure on the carriers to cut rates.

    Perhaps the Nexus is the phone that finally achieves this. But it's nowhere near a done deal. Even if the phone and the sales strategy were confirmed (which they aren't), it's going to take years before they have enough market force to make the carriers change their ways.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:46AM (#30431634) Homepage Journal

    Agreed. I've always just gone out, bought a new phone outright, and whacked my existing SIM card in it when I got home. None of this contract crap. But from what I can tell it is very hard/impossible to do that in the US?

    The carriers with better U.S.-wide coverage[1] use Qualcomm's CDMA2000 protocol stack.[2] Unlike GSM and UMTS phones, all of which store the service info on a UICC,[3] CDMA2000 phones are less likely to store the service info on a UICC.

    [1] Not to be confused with international coverage, which isn't useful to people who never travel outside the United States. AT&T has advertised better coverage than competing carriers that operate in the United States, with the fine print stating "worldwide". But in the States, there's a map for that.

    [2] Not to be confused with CDMA modulation, which is also used by UMTS, the 3G successor to GSM.

    [3] A removable smart card that holds mobile phone service information. It's commonly called a "SIM", "USIM", or "CSIM" card if it holds service info for GSM, UMTS, or CDMA2000 respectively.

  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:49AM (#30431694)
    My bill does. I call the carrier and haggle them down on the price after the contract is up, since I can leave and it's cheaper for them to discount the service than to acquire a customer from scratch.
  • Re:Unlocked FTW (Score:2, Informative)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:50AM (#30431710) Journal

    In the US, by and large, phones are seen by many as a way to access their account with a wireless communications company. Few Americans have the need or desire to switch among various phone companies, and most just want to go in to a store, pick out a phone that they think is "free" or very inexpensive, have it set up for them, and walk out of the store with the phone already working.

    The American wireless marketplace is largely set up this way. Carriers generally welcome unlocked/bring-your-own phones and will reward you by not having to sign up for a multi-year commitment, but on the other hand they will generally not offer a discount on your monthly fee. Americans also generally have come to expect switching phones every time we renew our contracts anyway, so if I'm paying a monthly fee it might as well include a subsidy for a phone.

    So, basically, it boils down to costs and risks.

    If you are relatively happy with your carrier, you take a significant discount off the purchase price of the phone and in return you commit to a 2-year contract. At the end of the two years, you've saved the money because you would have paid the same monthly fee whether you bought your own phone or not. So if all goes relatively well it saves you some bucks.

    However, If you cancel your account early, you basically end up refunding the subsidy they gave you. This really sucks because the phone is locked to the carrier (hence useless unless you sell it to another customer of that same carrier, or manage to unlock it). So by getting the phone subsidized by your carrier you lose big-time if you change your mind and want to switch carriers.

    You can choose on price (carrier-subsidized phone with lock-in) or flexibility (buy your own phone and SIM cards from whatever carriers you want). In other words, for the price of the subsidy the wireless company is allowing you to sell them your flexibility on that handset.

    Most people I know choose on price, and most of the time it works out fine. You do your two years with the phone, and if you're happy with the phone and the carrier you go month-to-month until the phone dies or you decide you want a new ShinyThing, then you go to a carrier and ask them to reopen the subsidy purse and you lock-in for another two years.

  • by Tacvek (948259) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:52AM (#30431750) Journal

    Android 2.1 will be out before this phone will be out. What I'm hoping for in 2.5 is proper multi-touch support in the core applications (like pinch zoom in the browser), fixes to allow proper hands free phone operations. (Pressing the Bluetoooth headset button when not in a call will call up voice search, which doubles as voice dial).

    And a proper solution to apps on SD. That has some issues, such as what to do if the card is removed while running, but on some phones like the Droid, it makes little difference since the battery must be removed to remove the card. But that is only a minor issue.

    The next issue is how to best do this. Using unionfs or equivalent to mount the SD card directory over the main directory works ok, although makes it almost impossible to move any apps so they live directly on the phone. The alternative is to just have the phone check more locations for applications (it already checks 3 locations, so what are a few more?

    The biggest question is how to handle copy protected apps (not all for-pay apps are copy protected, nor are all copy protected apps for pay). Android currently handles them by putting them in a directory protected with Unix permissions. Unless one has root to the phone the directory cannot be read. Dev Phones are not supposed to be allowed to downlad any copy protected app, so those having root available is moot.

    That level of protection is not ideal, but works better than nothing. Google does not want an APPS-on-SD solution to be any less secure. There is an easy way to solve this though. Simple create a file system as a file on the SD card. The filesystem will be encrypted and loopback mounted using the standard Linux facilities for this. The key (generated on first run of the phone) will be stored on the phone itself in the existing POSIX permissions protected directory.

    The filesystem inside the loopback mounted file will also have POSIX permissions protection of course. This is where all the copy protected apps will be stored if stored on SD.

    ----

    By the way, besides hacked in multitouch support (which is obsoleted by Eclair with its official multitouch support) what all is in the SenseUI suite of changes?

    I know a rewritten home app is present, with 7 (?) pages and a replacement shape for the drawer at the bottom that has 3 buttons, one of which opens the drawer, the second of which launches the phone app, and the third of which, I'm not really sure what it does. It includes several additional widgets for the home screen, with selectable styles (of varying sizes, some that take up a whole page). The status bar color has been made black.

    Most of the other built-in other apps looks like they have been rewritten to conform to a new GUI standard, but it is not clear if much functionality was added, at least that was worthwhile. The apparent Social networking integration features it has look like they would need to be integrated into android 2.0's account manager. They also seem pointless to me, Since I'm not a big user of social networks.

    I will say though that the visuals of SenseUI are rather impressive, and do look more polished than the default android application visuals.

  • Nexus One (Score:3, Informative)

    by zen-o-matic (1699464) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:52AM (#30431754)
    It has been confirmed that Nexus One is made by HTC.
    Some pics of the beast:
    http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/14/exclusive-first-google-phone-nexus-one-photos-android-2-1-on/

    And then there's Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10 which is also a KILLER phone:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m19Lu-JUW1Q
    http://www.sonyericsson.com/cws/products/mobilephones/overview/xperiax10#view=specifications
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHJExGJ4K60

    Both are probably hitting the stores in January 2010.
  • by jedrek (79264) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:01PM (#30431862) Homepage

    For the past 6 years or so I've been getting contracts w/o a phone (I buy new phones from private sellers who've gotten phones they don't want with their contracts) and my rates are about half of what they would be if I had gotten plans with a phone.

  • by cpscotti (1032676) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:01PM (#30431866)
    Have you ever heard about the n900?
    I dunno why everybody continues hyping around skynet's products/blockable devices..
    Just go buy your n900 and enjoy pushing Ctrl+shift+x and watching xterm being launched, OTB.
    The one phone that you become root of your own device while within the manufacturer's grace.

    PS: Do I sound like a nokia fanboi? That's precisely the idea.. we have to deal with apple's and google's ones all the time.. this is my share!
  • by ergo98 (9391) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:08PM (#30431954) Homepage Journal

    It's a "carrier-neutral" chip, so you can activate the device on whatever carrier you like - GSM or CDMA.

    Unlocking a phone makes it carrier neutral. What you're talking about is being communication standard neutral simply by supporting multiple standards, but that is increasingly a non-standard (CDMA was largely a North America only thing, but is increasingly a US-only thing -- basically Verizon -- after Bell and Telus in Canada left CDMA for GSM).

    All of this having little to do with financing your phone.

    Unlocked phones sold as devices by themselves would be *wonderful*. I'm hoping that this actually gets carried out.

    But I doubt it. Firstly a lot of people are making hay about the fact that this phone is "designed by Google", but so was the G1 essentially (also branded as Google, given to Google employees, called a Google phone, etc). So it seems like a refresh of the position the G1 held and people are extrapolating a little too much.

  • by hazydave (96747) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:26PM (#30432168)

    Actually, any "Google Experience" phone, like the DROID, is running "stock Android" these days.. that's at least one way to tell for certain. If this really is running HTC's home shell, then it's far more like an HTC phone than any of the other Google-branded phones so far ("Google" on the back, versus presumably "Google" on the front, if this is really to be sold under the Google brand name).

    The home shell doesn't matter all that much... the apps are the same. That's where the loyalty is established. As long as the API doesn't change on a per vendor basis, this is safe. And possibly one reason most of the phone vendors are flocking to Android... they have always wanted some way to customize and "brand" their smart phones.

    If the only down-side for this is a little necessary customer re-education if they change to a different home shell, it's no big deal.

    And as far as hardware differences go, I'm happy to see this bullet being taken now. Android's running well on phones with keyboards, without, small screens, big screens, etc. If the iPhone or the Palm platforms are going to evolve, they're going to run across that issue soon enough, or be left behind. How many iPhone apps are hard-coded to 480x320?

  • by todrules (882424) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:57PM (#30432572) Journal
    Sorry to burst your bubble here, but T-Mobile just started offering discounts on price plans based on whether or not you buy a subsidized phone. They are the Even More and Even More Plus plans. You can choose to buy a subsidized phone, and be locked into a 2 year contract and pay higher monthly rates, or you can buy an unlocked phone (or buy a Tmo phone in monthtly installments) and your monthly plan will be about $10-$20 less a month, and you have no annual contract.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2009 @03:19PM (#30434284)

    Incorrect. I called T-Mobile and they sent me a G1 along with a bill for $379. No contract.

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