updated 09:10 pm EST, Tue December 29, 2009
Docs leak shows Google still on usual model.
An alleged slip of documents tonight hints that Google's Nexus One will still cling to a traditional phone model and could actually be more expensive than its rivals in the long run. While it would remain true that Google would sell the phone itself for $530 unsubsidized, Gizmodo sees through a website prototype that the search pioneer would still sell the high-end Android phone for $180 on a two-year contract with T-Mobile, much like any other high-end smartphone. Those who cancel service before three months of service are up would have to pay the full $350 difference if they intend to keep the phone.
Also, those who opt for the contract route may ultimately pay more for service than the unsubsidized route. These customers would be required to sign up for T-Mobile's best Even More Plus plan at $80 per month. While it would provide unlimited calling, data and messaging, it would make for one of the most expensive minimum entry point for a smartphone plan. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have reduced services in their starter plans but usually cost $70, or enough to save $240 on a plan and negate the subsidy advantage if the phone is kept for three years.
Those who opt for the unsubsidized version are likely to be free to choose their own plans on T-Mobile or on any GSM carrier, although only T-Mobile USA and Canada's Wind Mobile currently support the Nexus One's 3G frequencies. International purchases are an option in the leak, though sales would be limited to five phones for each e-mail account to prevent bulk purchases from gray market resellers.
Google's claimed plans would represent a backtrack from filings that suggested the company would entirely rebrand the phone under its own label, especially as a disclaimer in the sales agreement would require that customers acknowledge that HTC and not Google made the device. Regardless, official promotion of one Android phone over another is expected to cause a rift between Google and smartphone makers as it would have the former favoring the output of one hardware partner over another.