Telecom: Google phone for XT by end of April

Telecom says it will launch its first Google Android handset, LG's GW620, for XT later this month, for $699 off contract.

The LG's hero feature is auto-face recognition, with promises to identify friends and automate the process of tagging a person's name to a pic, then uploading it to a social networking site.

However, a comprehensive (and otherwise very positive) UK review found that "in reality the accuracy wasn't the greatest".

LG's Android model will be the first major phone launch for XT since The Troubles began in mid-December.

Telecom said the GW620 would be exclusive to XT.

For the past year, there has been a single phone on the New Zealand market running on Google's Android software, the HTC Magic (which NBR was rather taken by; read review here).

A rep for Vodafone told NBR "We will have a full suite of Android phones on offer this year," but declined to name any models.

"2010 will be the year of the 'droid," said the Vodafone rep - though he later qualified this was a slang term encompassing Google Android phones as a group, not a reference to the Motorola Droid.

Phone makers with Android models on the market overseas or for immanent release include Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

Google made waves earlier this year when it released its own-brand Android phone, the NexusOne (made by Taiwan's HTC).

NexusOne was released initially in the US and - notably in the politically-charged world of cellphone sales and distribution - only available for order through a Google website. 

A Vodafone spokesman did not offer any sales figures for the HTC Magic, but said its launch as NZ's first Android model - briefly marred by a weird incident possibly related to bodypaint - had been "wildly successful". 

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