Vodafone has started taking pre-orders for Google's Nexus One Android-based smartphone, which it will offer for free on a £35-per-month contract.
The device is the first Android phone that Google has sold directly through its own channel, as well as through operators. Vodafone has an arrangement to carry the smartphone across its European operations.
Bought directly from Google in the US, the Nexus One costs $529 (£342), although this price excludes shipping and customs charges for UK customers. The handset, which is manufactured by HTC, weighs 130g and has a 3.7-inch, 480x800-pixel Amoled display. It has a 5-megapixel camera with a flash, a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 1400mAh battery.
Vodafone will offer the Nexus One for free on a two-year, £35-per-month tariff that includes 1GB of mobile data usage per month. By contrast, the same operator offers just 500MB of data per month for users of the HTC Desire. The Desire is another new Android handset that has very similar specifications to those of the Nexus One, although the Nexus One has certain added features, such as dynamic noise suppression.
The discrepancy is down to the fact that "these are two different handsets and two different price plans", Vodafone UK spokesman Jakub Hrabovsky said. If taken at the same monthly price, the Desire comes with 900 minutes of bundled talk-time rather than the 600 that come with the Nexus One. However, no Desire price plan from Vodafone gives the user the option of having 1GB of data per month.
People who sign up for Vodafone's Nexus One will also get an extra gigabyte of free Wi-Fi access per month at BT Openzone hotspots across the UK, the operator said.