phone thumbnail Today is the day Google is expected to unveil its much-anticipated Nexus One Android-based mobile phone. It's been tight-lipped about the existence of such a device, but has invited journalists from all over the world to its Mountain View California headquarters later today.

Needless to say, speculation about the form it will take and how it will fare are at fever pitch.

In a technology segment infamous for rumours and counter rumours, leaked photos and bloggers' bragging rights over 'breaking' stories that contribute little but more question marks to the list of known facts, how the Nexus One goes down when it makes its official public debut is what really matters. That and getting its product to market soon.

After all, this time a year ago, it was the Palm Pre that was garnering all the headlines, after an impressive unveiling at the Consumer Electronics Show. Trouble was, we had to wait most of the year to get hold of it (US customers had a head start but still had to wait until June). By October, when the UK and a handful of other countries got to getting their hands on the Pre, the buzz was not quite so feverish.

PC Advisor's latest issue takes a long hard look at smartphones, testing 12 and concluding that the Palm Pre is the cream of the crop, bettering the iPhone 3GS and the BlackBerry Bold, the Android models, the Nokia N900 and a slew of Windows Mobile-based handsets.

Even so, we worry that the Pre came along a little too late to be all it could have been. We're pretty sure Google won't repeat that mistake.

Google has done good work laying the foundations for its own smartphone. It built its own Linux-derived Android operating system, dispensing with bloat and presenting a stripped down interface on top of which other developers could build widgets and add-ons to augment its basic phone, web-browsing, email and geo-location features. It then handed it all over to the phone developers, sat back and allowed established handset designers and manufacturers to do their best to showcase its work.

While lacking the immediate wow of the Apple iPhone, the HTC-designed, T-Mobile-branded G1 handset made a creditable first impression. The HTC Hero (marketed in the UK by T-Mobile as the G2), launched in the latter half of 2009, improved upon the original, while the Motorola Droid - now available here at the Motorola Milestone and based on the revised Google Android 2.10 Cupcake- garnered accolades all round.

Having created a market for Android devices, will it be able to outshine existing manufacturers who showed faith in Google's commercial nous and ability to capitalise on a trend, or will the Nexus One be a so-so handset and become a footnote in smartphone history? If it's quick, it might just ride the wave of hype.