Android Going Button Free
While there is no doubt that there will be a third Nexus device released by Google, probably at the end of this year, there hasn't been any answers on the hardware specs, the manufacturer, or anything else for that matter. But, TechHog received an exclusive photo of a test device (the post has since been removed,) which looks to be built by HTC...and has no buttons.
It seems likely that with the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, Android's next version, Google will use on-screen buttons instead of relying on physical ones. On the upside, this will lead to a more consistent layout of the buttons. Currently, pretty much every device has its own layout with anywhere from three to four buttons running along the bottom. Even Google's Nexus One and Nexus S devices have different button layouts. On the flip side, this means that buttons will take up screen real estate and perhaps detract from the overall experience.
A lot will depend on how this is implemented and until we get a peak at Ice Cream Sandwich, we won't know for certain. While the device pictured is an HTC device, it doesn't necessarily mean Google is going to choose them as their next hardware partner. Until now, Google has gone through many different hardware partners, giving each a shot at the primary Google phone. The Nexus One was made by HTC, while the Nexus S was manufactured by Samsung. And on the tablet side, Motorola was given the green light to produce the first Google sanctioned tablet. There are rumours that LG is next in line, but they could be launching the first Nexus tablet.
As for the specs, most of it has been kept under wraps, but there is a font-facing camera, and it was being tested on CDMA and HSPA+ bands, meaning it should work with every North American carrier. Assuming Google is as serious about NFC as they claimed at their launch of Google Wallet, it's safe to say that an NFC chip will probably be included.
I doubt we'll see anything that so closely resembles an iPhone, but it is interesting to get a glimpse on hardware that's being tested internally. I would bet that the next-generation Nexus phone will set the standard for Android phones on the Ice Cream Sandwich platform.