If you're still waiting for an Android 'phone which doesn't lock you in or tether you to a contract, Google might just have the answer: the Dev Phone 1.

According to BetaNews, the Dev Phone 1 is a specialised version of the HTC Dream, which was released by T-Mobile under the name G1 as the first Android-enabled handset to hit shelves. Where it differs is in the freedom offered to its users.

The Dev Phone 1 is the first handset to be offered with an unlocked bootloader and fully flashable innards – meaning that the system can run modified Android code straight from the box, with no need to 'jailbreak' the handset. Google have said that “unlike the bootloader on retail devices, the bootloader on the Android Dev Phone 1 does not enforce signed system images” which means you're receiving a handset which really can run anything you care to compile for it.

Compatible with mobile 'phone networks the world over, the handset will also accept a SIM card from any network – no need for a T-Mobile contract with this version. Very handy if you're just looking to replace a handset on an existing contract with a different provider.

The device is priced at $399 (about £270) for Google-registered developers – an additional step which will set you back $25 on top of the price. While this compares favourably with the cost of buying a SIM-free but bootloader-locked version from T-Mobile, there are complaints from users regarding the somewhat bizarre shipping costs: although the handset is available worldwide, users outside the US are being hit with additional shipping fees as high as $151 to Taiwan to a whopping $210 to Canada. Whether these fees will be reduced to something a little less eye-watering in future remains to be seen.

Tempted by a less restrictive build of the Google Phone, or does the company have some work to do on the core OS before you'll consider paying good money for a handset? Share your thoughts over inthe forums.

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