Whether AT&T likes it or not, you can now get a white or black Nexus S smartphone that runs on the carrier’s 3G network.
Engadget got its hands on the device, which is being sold unlocked for $600 by Negri Electronics. Feature-wise, it’s the same Nexus S that debuted in December, with a 4-inch screen, 1 GHz processor, 16 GB of storage and the near-field communications capability that Google is testing in Portland, Oregon.
The Nexus S isn’t the most powerful Android smartphone available — it lacks a dual-core processor and a microSD slot for more memory — but it runs the latest version of Android, version 2.3, and is free of carrier bloatware and software modifications from phone makers.
The main attraction in this particular model is the frequency band that allows the phone to run on AT&T’s 3G network. The Nexus S that launched in December was really meant for T-Mobile, as it could only use AT&T’s slower EDGE network for data.
AT&T hasn’t announced any plans to subsidize the Nexus S, so AT&T customers can’t buy the phone for $200 on contract, as T-Mobile users can. But the steep $600 price tag through Negri Electronics comes with the freedom to cancel service at any time or swap in a local SIM card when traveling abroad. Sprint, meanwhile, is preparing to launch its own subsidized Nexus S with Google Voice integration, available this spring for $199 on contract. Good times for the Google Phone.