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A blast from the past: early prototype of Google phone shows up in trial

What could have been.
April 26, 2012

In an alternate universe, how fun it’d be to see Palm buy HP only to ditch it months after? You won’t have to build a time travel machine to see what the Google phone could’ve looked like in an alternate universe, though. If there’s anything that the Oracle vs Google debacle can bring us, is a glimpse of the development of Google phone since its inception. We warn you that some of the images aren’t pretty at all, like most phones that came out circa 2006.


Although the documents presented in court didn’t specify the detailed specs of the 2006 Google phone, they did describe what Google had in mind for it. The GSM phone was to come (at least) with a blindingly fast 200MHz ARMv9 processor, 64MB RAM, 64MB ROM, miniSD card slot, a 2MP camera with shutter button, Bluetooth 1.2, and a QVGA display with 16-bit color support. Google also planned to equip the phone with WiFi, GPS, and a GPU. These specs probably don’t make up the  definition of a high-end phone for 2006’s standard.


Forget about touchscreens, because that’s not the direction that the Google phone was apparently heading back in 2006. The QWERTY phone was to come with two soft menu keys and it appears that a trackball was planned on the phone, a la RIM’s Blackberry.

Apps and User Interface

Other court documents revealed what Google had in store for the Android platform, specifically around 2007. We can see the rather bare home screen that displays Google’s search bar and other apps, like the phone’s dialer, contacts, and calendar. Messaging apps were aplenty on the phone with the likes of Gmail, a standard email client, a chat-based SMS application, and Google Talk all making their way to the prototype. We can also see a WebKit-based browser still in its infancy, a YouTube app, a media player, Google Maps, Notes, and Calculator.

Data Plan

Google knew that the key to win the support of carriers was to lure them with the potential revenues generated from mobile data usage. The search giant was apparently ready to cut a deal with T-Mobile, so the carrier could offer a subsidized $9.99 monthly fee for an unlimited data package, under the assumption that consumers will only use an average 15MB of data per month.

The Real Google Phone aka HTC Dream aka T-Mobile G1

Clearly, Google had done some major redesign work on its first Android phone, both in the appearance and the user interface department. The result was the first ever Google phone, which was released in October 2008 and dubbed the G1. The slide-out QWERTY phone was offered for $129.99 with a two-year contract on T-Mobile, with monthly data plans that ran for $25 and $35. The slider smartphone went on to use a 528MHz Qualcomm ARM11 processor, and came with a 3.2-inch capacitive HVGA display, 192MB RAM, 256MB ROM, and yes, a trackball.

How do you dislike the prototype and Google’s early vision of Android?