No need for the rumor mill any longer: Google's Nexus One smartphone has arrived. And unlike Apple's iPhone at present, the touchscreen Nexus One won't be tied to just one wireless carrier in the U.S. It'll start on T-Mobile at launch, and be up and running on Verizon within a few months, according to Google.
Google also confirmed that two versions of the phone will ship: an unlocked version for $529 and a version with service from T-Mobile for $179. The Google Nexus One is available for purchase immediately through Google's new online retail store, located at www.google.com/phone.
Google executives confirmed at the conference that Google plans to offer the phone through additional carriers beyond T-Mobile, the first of which is Verizon, which will carry Nexus One phones starting in the spring. Vodafone will carry Nexus One in Europe also starting in the spring.
According to various news outlets and live blogs from the Mountain View event, Google Vice President of Product Management Mario Queiroz described the phone as a "super phone" and "an exemplar of what is possible on mobile phones." Details of the phone were also confirmed on www.google.com/phone.
HTC CEO Peter Chou was also on hand, and described the Nexus One as a phone that "pushes the limits of what is possible on a mobile phone today." Google confirmed that the Nexus One is a Google phone, and that consumers are buying the phone direct from Google, not HTC.
The Nexus One's confirmed technical details do not much vary from the various specs and photographs that have leaked over the past month. Among its details, the Nexus One sports a a 3.7-inch touchsreen AMOLED display, and a 1 Ghz processor by Qualcomm.
It further has a 5-megapixel camera with video capability and is Bluetooth enabled. It includes a GPS, and battery-wise, offers seven hours of talk time or five hours of Internet use on a 3G network. A new feature not yet seen on already-released Android phones is active noise cancellation, which according to Google can fade out background noise automatically.
The Nexus One also offers a voice-to-text that allows users to dictate text for e-mails or social networking updates without typing. Various Google applications such as YouTube, Gmail and Maps are also integrated.
Software-wise, it has five home screen panels that allow users to customize their phone with shortcuts and widgets and access to things like Facebook integration. Google also confirmed the Nexus One offers quirkier features like the ability to have custom engraving on the back of the device.
The campaign of hype and anticipation -- kicked into overdrive by a Google blog post Dec. 12 that indicated Google employees were testing a new mobile device -- is reminiscent of how Apple launches products, leveraging buzz to maximum advantage.
Google, of course, already has a foothold in the smartphone marketplace thanks to Android, and a number of Channelweb.com's 10 Coolest Smartphones of 2009, including the Motorola Droid, were Android devices.
Now with the Nexus One, however, Google has entered into the business of selling smartphones, which puts it in direct competition with Apple as well as other competitors like Research In Motion and Palm.
According to reports, Google may offer other items through its Google retail store, but executives declined to describe what those items might be.