Last night, we started seeing some Tweets from Google employees and others about a new Android-powered Google (GOOG) phone that was apparently handed out at an “all hands” meeting. Now Google is confirming that it is indeed “dogfood” testing a new Android device with employees around the world.
But this isn’t just another Android phone. Very trustworthy sources who have seen the phone say that it is the Google Phone we first wrote about last month (despite the uninformed saying we were dreaming). It will be branded Google and sold by Google as an unlocked phone, which could change everything. As we wrote in our original post:
Google is building their own branded phone that they’ll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone be available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010. The phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but will only have Google branding (Microsoft did the same thing with their first Zunes, which were built by Toshiba).
There won’t be any negotiation or compromise over the phone’s design of features – Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google’s pure vision of what a phone should be.
The phone itself is being built by HTC, with a lot of input from Google. It seems to be a tailored version of the HTC Passion or the related HD2 (Unlocker scored some leaked pictures back in October which are of the same phone).
Here are the details we know so far about the phone: It will be called the Google Phone and will launch in early January, 2010. It won’t be sold by any one carrier, but instead will be an unlocked GSM phone. In the U.S., that means T-Mobile and possibly AT&T, whose exclusivity deal with the iPhone is about to run out. It will be running Android 2.1
The phone is “really, really fast,” says someone who has seen one in action. It runs on a Snapdragon (QCOM) chip, has a super high-resolution OLED touchscreen, is thinner than the iPhone (AAPL), has no keyboard, and two mics. The mic on the back of the phone helps eliminate background noise, and it also has a “weirdly” large camera for a phone. And if you don’t like the touchscreen keyboard, a voice-to-text feature is supposed to let you dictate emails and notes by speaking directly into the phone.