Google is rumored to be making its own Android phone with some pretty beefy specs…but it might not be a phone in the traditional sense. TechCrunch’s sources have told it that the phone will be data only and use VoIP for calling. The site’s Michael Arrington said:
The Google Phone may be a data only, VoIP driven device. And Google may be lining up at least AT&T to provide those data services for the Google Phone, says one person we spoke with today.
Users could still make calls just like a normal phone, of course. The calls would just be over the data service instead. In fact, this is the exact vision Google proposed back in 2007 when they were bidding on the FCC auctions for the 700MHz spectrum.
Presumably, the phone will use Google Voice to handle calls, but the service would have to change to work with a data-only phone. Right now, Google Voice still calls a local number for the “last mile” connection before handing off to VoIP.
While I’m still interested in this handset, being data only limits its appeal. Consumers with poor 3G coverage will likely have problems using Google’s Android phone to make calls. Mobile VoIP over 2G can be pretty poor. Arrington’s source is from AT&T, which has pretty shoddy 3G coverage. Would a data-only phone be feasible for that network? Will the phone have different radios to support other carriers? I’m curious to see how this rumored product pans out.