Is this the next Android phone?

Is this the next Android phone?

The first Android phone, the G1, is only coming to the Netherlands next week and to other European countries in the next few months, but already we hear its successor is coming. Gizmodo just posted what they claim are the first photos of the G2.

Gizmodo claims the the phone is slimmer, which must surely be thanks to the fact that it apparently does not have a hardware keyboard. While I would be very surprised if Google, T-Mobile and HTC weren’t already developing a successor to the G1, I’m not sold that this phone is it.

The photo definitely seems to be of an HTC Android phone but the claimed lack of a physical keyboard really astounds me. Coming after the launch of the iPhone and with so many similarities, the fact the G1 has a physical keyboard despite having a touchscreen struck me as a strong statement that the Open Handset Alliance was learning from Apple but not seeking to slavishly copy the iPhone.

I spent the day demo’ing the G1 to T-Mobile employees and the keyboard elicited two reactions. Those coming from BlackBerries and Windows Mobile phones would immediately proclaim the superiority of the phone over the iPhone due to its physical keyboard. Those used to iPhones were more hesitant, and several actually looked for the on-screen keyboard they were sure was there.

To me, a nice compromise would be to have some sort of iPhone-style virtual keyboard while in portrait mode but rely on the hardware keyboard in landscape mode. This is surely possible and looking at the second of Gizmodo’s photos, I can easily imagine the phone having a keyboard that slides straight out, like many other HTC phones, rather than the sort of diagonal slide the G1 has.

What do you think? Do any Next Web readers have the inside scoop?

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