updated 11:00 am EST, Sat December 12, 2009
Android flagship spotted using AT&T
(Updated with name, T-Mobile tip) The rumored Google-branded Android phone may already be in the hands of Google staff based on multiple reports. Twitter updates from Google Program Director Leslie Hawthorn as well as those in contact with Google employees, such as Great White Snark's founder and CNET's Jason Howell all report "tons" of "Google phones" having arrived at the search giant's campus on Friday. The phone is described as an HTC-branded, touchscreen-only device that would run Android 2.1 and run on GSM networks; the phone given to developers is unlocked and known to run on AT&T, though whether it's specifically intended for that carrier isn't known.
Visually, the phone is described as "like an iPhone on beautifying steroids" and possibly thinner than its potential Apple rival. It has a scroll ball much like the existing HTC Hero. Few features of Android 2.1 have been made evident, but it does appear to add support for animated wallpaper.
If anecdotes prove true, public details would appear as early as the next few days and would have the phone available in January, corroborating rumors of an early 2010 release.
The leaks contradict claims that any Google-labeled phone would be made by LG or Samsung and also goes against Google's own public statements denying a self-designed phone. It has long argued that it has at most had a minor hand in shaping hardware and that favoring one phone over another would hurt the Android ecosystem. As such, the "Google phone" may simply be the HTC Passion (possibly pictured below) sold as a regular, if high-profile, HTC Android phone for one or more US carriers.
To date, most have expected the Motorola Droid to be Google's signature Android phone, but beyond using it to demo new Android 2.0 features the Mountain View-based company hasn't attached itself strongly to the one device.
Update: Google has partly confirmed the phone and calls it a "mobile lab" that includes both "innovative hardware" and Android to test new features. The company plans to provide more information about the phone once it's passed through testing with employees. The T-Mobile G1 and myTouch 3G both went through this cycle as the Google Dev Phone 1 and Google Ion respectively.
Update 2: Electronista has heard from a source that, although the phone can run on AT&T, it's actually meant for T-Mobile like earlier Google developer phones. This doesn't necessarily mean any public-facing phone will use the same network.
Update 3: Another leak today from the Wall Street Journal points to the phone being labeled the Nexus One, using an all-Google software array and being sold directly to home users as an unlocked model. [via TechCrunch]