Please note, this post is being updated with extra information as we get it, so do check back for extra information.
Ready to take the plunge at importing a phone from the US? Here’s our guide to what to expect…
SIM-free only… for now
At present you can only buy the Nexus One SIM-free in the UK. A subsidised version with a Vodafone contract will be available “soon”. Precisely how soon we don’t know but Vodafone is saying early Spring. So, for know you’re going to have to get your head around the idea of paying 529 USD for the phone. It’s actually a bit more than that all-in, but we’ll get to that shortly.
Is it worth the hassle and up-front expense?
Whether you think a smartphone is worth a total cost of £450 (see below) is up to you. Buying a phone up front and then using a SIM-only deal can actually work out cheaper than buying a subsidised handset and signing up for an 18-month or two year contract.
T-Mobile, for example, offers a ‘Solo 20‘ plan with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data for £20 per month. There’s only a 30 day commitment too; you’re not signed up to a length contract so you can change at any time if you wish. If you’re out of contract with your current network you’ll be able to port you number over to one of these plans by asking them for your PAC code.
Even when you compare the Nexus One to other unlocked phones, it’s no more expensive. It’s £50 cheaper than the highly regarded Nokia N900, while a pay-as-you-go iPhone costs nearly £100 more.
So, if you want to take the plunge here’s how it works…
The order process
Ordering your Nexus One is simple. You simply head along to google.com/phone, click ‘Get Your Phone’ and you’re away. After selecting the ‘Nexus One Phone’ option you get the option to engrave your phone with a message if you choose.. Then you’re on to the (potentially) troublesome bit: paying for it.
Paying for the phone
The upfront cost is 529 USD plus $29.64 for international shipping and an optional $20 for a mains adapter. If you’re planning to charge your Nexus One only by connecting it up to a computer via USB you won’t need this, but it’s worth getting as you never know when or where you might need to charge your phone.
You’ll be billed in dollars and your bank/credit card provider will convert the payment into Pounds Sterling at the exchange rate they’re using (which may be a little less favourable than the rate quoted by sites like xe.com). I got charged £361 by my bank in total (including the optional mains adapter).
When I ordered my Nexus One there was a two day delay between submitting my order and getting shipping confirmation. However, once it’s ordered you’ll be able to track its journey from a depot somewhere in the USA to your door using DHL’s excellent tracking service.
Additional costs on delivery
Bear in mind that when you receive your phone you will be expected to pay 17.5% VAT and 6.5% import duty. This applies to any goods purchased from abroad. If you’re lucky your phone will slip past HM Revenue & Customs without charge but don’t count on it. The courier (DHL) will require you to pay this sum (which amounts to just under £100 in this case). This takes the overall cost to roughly £450 at current rates. From reports we’re getting, buyers are not being asked to pay these additional costs on delivery. Instead you are likely to receive an invoice through the post at a later date, so keep an eye out in the mail.
Google Checkout appears to be a bit temperamental when it comes to payment. It wouldn’t accept my credit card at all and I kept receiving an ‘Order Failed’ message. Upon switching to my debit card I had more luck. However, I don’t make a habit of spending that much money in one go so my bank suspected fraud and blocked the payment.
Google alerted me to the problem with an email. A quick call to the bank later (explaining that it was a legitimate purchase) and I was back on track. If this happens to you, make sure you follow the instructions in the email Google sends you – don’t just start a new order.
How long will the Nexus One take to arrive?
As yet, we don’t know. Google doesn’t quote international delivery times but you’ll be able to track the progress of your order through the website. We’ll update this post with more information when we get it. UPDATE: Ours took one week to arrive. It sat in the DHL depot for a whole weekend and only started moving after we sent an email to DHL asking what was happening. Hopefully you won’t need to do this!
More thoughts on using the Nexus One in the UK
We’ve written more about using the Nexus One in a follow-up post here. It’s well worth reading if you’re thinking of importing the handset.