updated 04:30 am EDT, Sat May 28, 2011
Google Nexus 3 possibly seen for first time
Google's third-generation Nexus phone may have been spotted for the first time in a sighting late Friday. The device, called just the Nexus 3 for sake of reference, was clearly designed by HTC with its signature curves and top grille. More crucially, the "Android Dev labs" source for TechHog showed a photo of a device that would scrap all front buttons in favor of nothing but touch, hinting that it would be the reference phone for Ice Cream Sandwich and its tablet-like interface.
Some hardware details are reportedly vague, though it would have a front camera along with the back. At least the prototype has both CDMA for Sprint's network as well as HSPA+ 3G for other carriers. It's implied the phone would either be a world roaming Sprint model or else a true universal version that would work on many networks. Google has been switching attention to Sprint as its 'favorite' carrier after the Verizon iPhone and launched the Nexus S 4G as well as Google Wallet for Sprint's subscribers first.
While the accuracy can't be verified, Google VP Andy Rubin has expressly promised a new Nexus phone by the end of the year. The design could be a clue not just to what phone will represent Google's reference design but also the future of Android itself. Ice Cream Sandwich ports Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) to phones and will have many of the on-screen navigation buttons and contextual menus that previously needed a much larger screen.
It may be a gamble for Google. the new model would disrupt the familiar experience of an Android phone and have customers adapt to a new experience. A move to Sprint by itself would reflect competitive pressure and a view that Verizon is no longer 'safe' territory now that the iPhone is available.