The unit is already under test by Google employees and is now tipped to be available for general purchase through Google from January 5th.
The handset will be available for outright purchase without any form of network locking or contract requirement, allowing consumers to use it with any carrier of their choosing.
Google has not confirmed any rumours but insiders are claiming the handset will sell for $US 199 with a $US 100 rebate online if you have an active Google account which has not been recently created. The rebate will apply to Android Marketplace or Google Checkout stores.
In news that is sure to change the mobile game, Google will allegedly push full voice-over-IP (VoIP) usage on these handsets meaning no voice plan will be required at all, only a data plan. WiFi hotspots can be used in place of cellular data.
Google Voice will be used for all “regular” voice calls, and Gtalk will be used in place of SMS.
Unlike the Apple iPhone the Google handset will feature a replaceable battery and expandable storage through a memory card.
Hardware specifications are not yet available but previous Android phones by HTC have provided 3G capabilities though not on the 850MHz spectrum as used by Telstra's NextG network.