Google could launch Android phone today

Google is expected to launch its own-brand Android mobile phone later today, ahead of the opening...

Google is expected to launch its own-brand Android mobile phone later today, ahead of the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday.

The widely rumoured device, said to be called the Nexus One, is expected to run the new faster Linux-based Android 2.1 operating system on a 1GHz Snapdragon microprocessor.

Google is expected to sell the phone online for around $500, but is also reported to be in negotiations to distribute it through T-Mobile in the US and UK mobile network operators. No talks were confirmed.

The device is expected to be made by HTC, which produced the first Android phone. Motorola and Samsung have since produced Android phones too.

The handset is expected to have a 3.7in touch screen, a five-megapixel camera and a removable battery. Data storage may include 512MB of ROM, 512MB of RAM and a removable microSD card.

These features address several weak points in Apple's iPhone, namely the lack of a QWERTY keyboard, its inability to run applications concurrently and a restrictive application distribution system.

Last year, market researcher Gartner predicted Android would grow tenfold to feature on 18% of smartphones by 2012. That would put it ahead of Blackberry maker Research in Motion on 13.9% and Apple on 13.6%, but behind Nokia's Symbian's 39% share.

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