Google launches Phone Gallery comparison tool

Google Phone Gallery

Google’s experiment with cutting out the middle man and selling an own-brand smartphone direct to customers, with the Nexus One Android-based cellphone, didn’t exactly work out as planned – but the search giant has another trick up its sleeve: the Google Phone Gallery.

Taking the place of the now-closed web store that originally sold the Nexus One smartphone to eager Google fans, the Google Phone Gallery allows prospective Android purchasers to see precisely what’s available on the market- and narrow down their search to find the device that’s right for them.

While only Android-based handsets are covered – for obvious reasons – the gallery does offer a wide variety of devices, and helps buyers make a choice without being faced with the limited selection and biased advice often present on cell networks’ own websites.

The site allows users to filter by carrier, so if you’ve already decided that AT&T or Sprint is the one for you there’s no need to look through handsets that aren’t available on those networks, and by manufacturer for those who will only buy devices from HTC or Samsung.

You can further limit your choices to all Android-based handsets, or only those that feature the “with Google” branding. As Google itself explains, “with Google” cellphones “have been optimized for use of Google Mobile Services, providing easy access to Search, Voice Search, Google Talk, Google Maps, Gmail, Sync, YouTube, and Android Market.”

Surprisingly, it’s not just a US-centric service, offering information for buyers in Canada, most of Europe, Brazil, Korea, Argentina, and more – with more countries, a wider selection of network operators, and additional handsets promised in the near future.

The site includes a comparison feature to easily distinguish between different handsets, and direct links to network operators sites should you be convinced enough of a cell’s charm to take the plunge and part with your hard-earned cash.

There’s no denying that it’s a useful – albeit completely self-serving – service, and while it won’t help you decide between Android, BlackBerry, or iPhone, it does come in handy when you’ve already figured out the platform problem and now need a hand on choosing a cellphone that matches your particular needs.

There are improvements that Google could make, however: missing is the option to filter by software version, for example – which would make ensuring that you get all the benefits of Android 2.2 significantly easier. While you can filter by launch date, that doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll get the newest release of Android – especially if you’re looking at the lower end of the price bracket.

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