The SIM-free GSM handset will first be available in the U.S., where it will work on AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) or T-Mobile US Inc. 's high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) networks. Both carriers sell SIM cards that users can swap out to jump between networks without committing to a contract.
The Galaxy Nexus comes equipped with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, Google Wallet for mobile payments and Android apps through Google Play. It's a pure Google device, being used by the Android maker to showcase the best of its own services, and Google could give the phone priority when it comes to OS updates too.
Why this matters
Google went this route with its first Nexus One smartphone followed by the Nexus S in 2010, but it experienced backlash from the wireless operators that were cut out of the equation.
The software maker should have better luck this time around. For one thing, according to a T-Mobile rep, the Galaxy Nexus is already one of the most popular devices it sees consumers buying SIM cards for. And, while subsidies are the norm in the U.S., at only $400 the Nexus should be an attractive alternative for consumers who've been turned off by contracts, data caps and termination fees.
This may not be the last of Google's unlocked ambitions either. The company has a new section in its Android warehouse called Devices, suggesting more are to come. What's more, rumors have been circulating that it's prepping an AsusTek Computer Inc. Android tablet for direct-to-consumer sales, and, when its Motorola Mobility acquisition closes, smartphones from the hardware maker would certainly be candidates for unlocked sales as well. (See Google's Moto Buy Gets Green-Lighted.)
- Google Plays With Android Market Branding
- Google Tries Unlocked Again With Nexus S
- Google Store Reopens
- Google Nixes Nexus Web Sales
- Google Introduces 'Nexus One' Phone
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile