back to article Google waggles free* Android phones at Americans

Google is offering Americans a free Nexus S Android phone from its rather popular homepage. The offer lasts through the end of today (August 3). And you must agree to a two year wireless contract with an American wireless carrier. And you must agree to share yourself with Google. The Nexus S is an Android phone whose software …


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  1. Graham Wilson

    Still far too expensive.

    But then I'm not smart phone addicted.

  2. Chris Hance

    Once again, Google sets off scammer sense

    First the "your computer appears to be infected" message, now "get something free, really, trust us."

  3. Tom Chiverton 1
    IT Angle

    A wireless contract ?

    What, like with BT's The Cloud or something ? Or do you mean mobile ? In which case, where is the news, you've been able to get most phones for zero+£/month since forever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Not in the US.

    2. peyton?


      Only crap phones are free with contract. A decent smartphone that retails for ~$500 would probably be around $150 with a 2-year contract.

  4. DrXym

    "Free" with a two year contract

    So not free then. It's probably tied to some horrific plans which mean an outlay of $1500 up.

    1. Craigness

      A different pricing model

      In the UK this phone is free (eg. with Vodafone) if you get a 24 month, £36 contract. That's not horrific, it's just normal business over here. There is nothing up front (except maybe the first month's payment) so the total cost, including calls, data and texts (900 minutes, 750 Mb and unlimited respectively per month), is about $1420 over 2 years at the current exchange rate.

      1. DrXym

        Contract != free

        "In the UK this phone is free (eg. with Vodafone) if you get a 24 month, £36 contract. "

        So you spend £864 and you get a "free phone". That's the point I'm making. It's not free. At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, providers do this to prevent churn and to lock you into a higher priced contract which I doubt very many people make full use of.

        If providers were compelled to sell phones on an as-is basis, possibly SIM free there would be vastly more transparency in the way they operate and do business. They might actually have to compete with each other harder for one thing.

        1. Craigness

          Born free

          "So not free then. It's probably tied to some horrific plans which mean an outlay of $1500 up"

          Forgive me, I obviously didn't make the obvious obvious enough.

          The phone is free, in the sense that you don't pay separately for the phone. The phone is part of the package and nobody familiar with this business model will expect a phone outside of any package without having to pay any money. This is how phones are sold elsewhere, you'll get used to it if Google has its way:

          Cost of contract = £30, cost of phone = £100

          Cost of contract = £35, cost of phone = FREE

          One of these contracts has a free phone. Can you tell which one does and which doesn't?

          It's not tied to any horrific plan unless you choose a horrific plan. If you don't want a phone as part of the contract then use one you already have, or buy one sim-free. Then buy airtime separately and you'll find that competition has forced the service providers to lock you into a contract anyway, or to give you a horrific plan. For example, Vodafone's 12 month plan is £10.50 for 300 minutes and 3000 texts per month but their 30 day plan gets you only 100 minutes and 500 texts for the same money. Aren't free markets great?

          There is no $1500 outlay, you get the phone for free. No money. Nada. Yours, if you take the airtime contract. If you choose a different contract then the phone is not free. A free phone is the exact opposite of paying money up-front (see example above).

          1. Steve Knox


            "Cost of contract = £30, cost of phone = £100

            Cost of contract = £35, cost of phone = FREE"

            That's not free as in free, that's free as in subsidized -- which isn't really free at all. And that was DrXym's point. His $1500 outlay was not an up-front payment, but the sum of the cost of the contract.

            Now if you were to say that you could get the same phone free without a higher-priced contract, I'd call you a liar*. But that would be a free as in free phone.

            * I'd probably use a nicer synonym, such as "marketer"**

            ** ( marketer : liar :: free : subsidized )

    2. JDX Gold badge

      of course it's free

      You pay for the contract and they give you the phone. Money changing hands doesn't mean it's not free, just that it might not be a good deal.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    google getting desperate?

    giving away free(ish) phones one moment and then crying to mamma when the big boys gang up on them the next (


      Fanboy silliness.

      ...I am surprised that the silly fanboy didn't try to frame the act of subsidizing the sale of an Android phone as some sort of grave patent infringement. It would go better with the rest of the days nonsense.

      Android phones are sold the way any other phones are including Apple and Nokia.

  6. StChom

    Honest deal at last.

    At last, this is a transparent, honest deal for an android device : today only, you don't have to buy the ticket for you to be sold around.

    A direct link to free openness.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Desperate. Desperate. Desperate.

    Apple don't need to give their phones away for people to buy them. Don't sell your soul / data to Google ;)

    1. DarkOrb


      Wonder why I got mine free then (with a mobile contract of course)....?

      It's no diffrerent from o2/Orange/Vodafone et al. doing a "FREE PHONE* (*for £25/month)" aside from the fact Google's is more noticeable - for Apple it's buried deep inside their pages (I guess they would rather get the full £/$ value themselves).

    2. Anonymous Coward


      isnt that the phone thats ONLY made by Apple and ONLY runs an OS written by Apple?

      hmmm. you know, those Android phones seem so much better when you realise you can get them from many manufacturers, in the style that suits you with whatever google features you want enabled and the rest turned off. i actually know android people who dont use any of the google software. crazy but thats their choice.

      oh, and you dont need a copy of iTunes or a PC or Mac to actually start using an Android phone ;-)

    3. Anonymous Coward


      most iPhone users I know got their phones for free (with usual high monthly contract rates)

      I doubt ANY of them would have paid the HUGE amount (around 600 quid) for the iPhone at retail price.

      free phones = the norm in the UK, carriers get the cash back and retain their customers via high monthly tariffs and long lock-in contracts

      1. Tom 38

        I know plenty who paid up front

        Avoids paying it out over 2 years of your life. Typically, subsidized iphone contracts are about £20 more per month than equivalent non-subsidized contract, over 2 years thats £480, Add on £69 for the initial cost of the phone on subsidy (subsidies only go so far), and its a wee bit more than the £515 purchase price.

        Just saying.

        1. DrXym


          Work out the price of the SIM free phone and a contract or payg that genuinely suits your predicted uses and chances are it would be the same price or less than being locked into their service for 2 years. It would also mean you have a SIM free phone with timely firmware updates rather than waiting for the provider to supply them (if ever) and when they do enjoying all the extra crapware and restrictions they've baked into it.

  8. Eddy Ito

    Nice! Sort of...

    Oddly the only flavor not backordered is the @&T kind. I also noticed the Sprint device normally runs $170 more than the other two. What's that all about?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

      In North America, we use 2 different digital technologies for cellular - GSM (with the sim card, same tech as MOST of the world uses) and CDMA (no sim card used). Sprint is mostly a CDMA carrier (Along with Verizon), ATT is a GSM carrier. There are a few hybrid phones on the market (mostly targeted at world travelers) as, generally, at least in the US, CDMA carriers tend to have better coverage. (this is changing as carriers ramp up 4G coverage based off GSM technology instead of CDMA/EVDO tech)

  9. Steven Roper

    As always

    there's an xkcd cartoon dealing with things that are supposedly "free":

  10. Earl Jones Of Potatoes

    nothing is free

    Get it free today only and please do not read the fine prints

  11. JB

    Free Phones

    As a British Ex-pat in the USA, this very much reminded me of the FREE PHONES posters you'd see in the Orange or O2 shops. They really are behind the times over here when it comes to prooting services with free (subsidised) phones, you still have to pay for phones here. Also the prices are just made up on the spot: my HTC Aria was $129 when it first came out, but within 6 months it had crashed to $24.99 (unlocked phone still about $390)

    Love 'em or hate 'em, at least Google are trying to introduce European style mobile phone promotions to the States.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Is this an article or an advert?

  13. Ian 16

    'and small piece of your soul required'

    You had me until the title above... oh that and the fact I live in the UK and most phones are free on 18+ month contracts.

    Sorry, but I do not trust Googles usage reporting at the best of times - would not surprise me if you were 'sold' this on condition they recorded and sent back your calls and texts for inspection.

    Working for a telco the amount of times I've seen payg and contract customers complaining about Android regardless of if data is on or off on the device accessing the web and running up out of bundle charges is surprising..... until you realise just how much google relies on those statistics, usage and diagnostic reports this 'always on' smart phone spurts back to the mothership.

    I realise it sounds like a conspiracy... but there is only so often I can tell a customer they were charged a £1 a day for their weather widget updating.

  14. Tim Brown 1

    I gave up on 'free' a long time ago

    'Free' like the word 'Unlimited' has been taken over by marketeers and has lost all meaning these days.

    The word 'free' should be used when something is given freely, no payment expected, no strings attached. A two-year contract is a pretty big string and means that whoever is offering the deal has just hidden the cost of the 'free' thing in the amount you'll be paying them for the next two years.

    These days I prefer to ignore all these promotions and make my choices based on what I like and think is the best deal, looking at all the costs involved.

  15. Anonymous Coward



  16. Charles 9

    Absolute Truth In Advertising.

    "There Oughta Be A Law" specifying that any advertising must be completely and wholly true. Nothing can be said to be free unless you can just take one and walk out the door with it with nothing else to do (and no, filling out a survey involves a time and information cost, so it doesn't count!). Nothing should be listed as unlimited if providers intend to put in a cap, throttle, or any form of "limitation". I've since given up on most TV ads since they're trying to spear you with lies, damned lies, and statistics. Meanwhile, the print flyers I never read without my magnified (for the fine print) sceptic glasses on.

    1. Andrew 66

      Nothing is ever free

      Nothing is ever as free as you seem to be suggesting is possible.

      I presume you think the NHS is free? That the Metro newspaper is free? Those pens you pick up as you walk around exhibitions?

      No. You pay for it somehow. You pay for the NHS through National Insurance. You pay for the Metro because you're buying things off the companies that advertise in it. You pay for those pens because at some point in time, you're probably going to go and buy something from that company.

      The key point is, many many things are Free at Point of Use (FAPOU), or Free at Point of Purchase (FAPOP), but just about nothing is ever free full-stop.

  17. 4HiMarks

    Many phones are free*

    *with two year commitment. It just depends on what kind of phone you want. The latest and greatest thing, with all the bells and whistles, is going to cost some coin, but it is still heavily subsidized over the cost of buying one without a contract. If you are satisfied with a refurbished version of a model that came out 6 or more months ago, it can usually be had for free, or practically so.

    My GF and I just upgraded our phones from dinosaurs to smart phones. She got a refurbished iPhone 3GS, and I got a refurbished Motorola Atrix. Total outlay: less than $60 (mostly for the Atrix, since it is newer). Cost of those phones without a contract? Well, you couldn't get a refurb, so you'd have to buy them new, and pay full price, which would probably run at least $400 each.

  18. Gary B.

    Free? Why, yes, yes it is.

    What, you expected a free mobile phone AND free mobile contract? Just what fantasy world were you living in: of course the mobile contract will be anything but free. The PHONE is free, and you get to PICK your mobile contract from THREE different providers (in the US), so I don't see what all the monetary complaining is about. Unless you just wanted to get the phone and not actually use it as a, erm, phone... Now, if you wanted to argue about selling your soul to Google, then we'd have a valid argument.

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