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Is this lovely slab of glass Google’s next reference Android handset? If we are indeed looking at the 3rd Nexus phone, it would point to HTC being the manufacturer of choice once more after Google dropped the company it used for the Nexus One in favor of Samsung when it came time to bring the Nexus S into the world. But that isn’t the only note-worthy aspect of this leaked photo. Not by a long shot.

Nexus (2)

Nexus (1)

Let’s start from the beginning. The photo you see below was posted as an exclusive by TechHog’s Michael Blake who claims to have a friend working in the Android Dev labs. After initially sharing information about the next Nexus handset – claiming both HTC and LG are possible manufacturing partners – the anonymous (at least to us) source provided a tasty photo of one of the test devices.

The first thing that jumps out at us when pouring over the photo is the lack of any room for the usual Android buttons. No Home, Search or Back buttons to be seen and indeed, we’re not sure where they’d even go. According to TechHog, the inclusion of Android’s Honeycomb operating system means the buttons are no longer needed. The Motorola Xoom for example also doesn’t feature any buttons, so this is entirely possible. One thing’s for sure though, the lack of any buttons on the face of the device sure does make for one good looking phone.

Radio wise the device is apparently tooled up for HSPA+ and Sprint CDMA which could point to an earlier Sprint release than the 6 month wait endured for the Nexus S.

The source also pointed out that while the device in testing is real, the actual industrial design could well change considerably before it hits store shelves. While we do like the look of it as things stand, it does have a certain iPhone 3G feel to it, thanks to that silver band running around the outside.

Time will tell just how much the phone changes or indeed if HTC is the one Google’s plumps for in the end. TechHog’s source says we’ll need to wait until the end of this year to find out.

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