Google March 16 said it is now selling a version of its Nexus One smartphone that runs on AT&T’s 3G network and Rogers Wireless, a move that could broaden the device’s appeal and put it more squarely in competition with Apple’s world-beating iPhone 3GS.
The Nexus One is now available from Google’s Web store as an unlocked device without a service plan for AT&T’s 3G network in the United States and on Rogers Wireless in Canada. Nexus One devices can also now be shipped to Canada from Google’s Web store and will work with a SIM from Rogers Wireless, the company said.
Google’s Nexus One is based on the search engine’s Android operating system, an open-source platform around which more than 20 different handsets have been built. The device, which runs the latest Android 2.1, includes a speedy 1GHz processor.
Google officials also pledged to make the Nexus One available on Verizon Wireless and via Vodafone in the spring. Recent reports indicated Verizon could sell the Nexus One as early as March 23, with the device rolling out from Vodafone in April.
In February, mobile gadget blogs discovered that the Federal Communications Commission had blessed a version of the Nexus One smartphone that runs on AT&T’s 3G network.
Google designed the Nexus One to be unlocked, which means users can use it with a SIM card from most GSM operators worldwide.
While the device is compatible with 3G networks such as T-Mobile, carriers such as AT&T and Rogers have different 3G frequencies. Accordingly, users owning SIM cards from AT&T or Rogers devices could only access 2G or EDGE networks on their Nexus One.
That all changed today. Users may choose from two versions of the Nexus One: one with 3G coverage on networks that use the 850MHz, 1,900MHz, and 2,100MHz frequency bands. This is recommended for use on AT&T in the United States and Rogers in Canada.
Google also offers the Nexus One with 3G coverage on networks that use the 900MHz, AWS and 2,100MHz frequency bands. This is recommended for use on T-Mobile in the United States.
This move is a bit of positive news in the wake of a dismal new report from analytics researcher Flurry, which found that the Nexus One sold only 135,000 units through its first 74 days of retail sale.
By contrast, the Android-based Motorola Droid from Verizon Wireless sold 1.05 million units, while Apple’s inaugural iPhone shipped 1 million copies in 2007.
If the Nexus One can find purchase on AT&T’s network, it may be able to more directly challenge Apple’s iPhone, currently carried exclusively by AT&T.
With features such as pinch-to-zoom multitouch, the Nexus One has been compared to the iPhone with all of its functionality. This is a big reason why Apple has sued Nexus One manufacturer HTC for infringing on some 20 of its smartphone patents dating back the last several years.
The idea is to take Android down a few notches as Apple seeks to defend its turf from Google-based phones.