Starting today, Google is again offering a smartphone for sale direct to the public, and no cell phone contract is needed. The phone is the Galaxy Nexus, price $399 through the Google Play online store. As the name suggests, the phone is made by Samsung, and is in many respects the equal of Samsung's widely praised Galaxy II phone.

While the Google-phone is sold without contract, it contains a radio that allows it to work with either AT&T or T-Mobile service in USA. The phone will also work with many GSM carriers around the world. The radio supports HPSA+ 21 megabit data service, not LTE. So its data performance will be similar to today's iPhone 4S when used on the AT&T network (AT&T's data network is HSPA+ 14.4) , and a little faster on T-Mobile (which is HSPA+ 42 in most places).

Aside from the flexibility to choose your cell phone carrier, the major selling point for the Galaxy Nexus is that you get updates and bug fixes to the Android operating system direct from Google, as soon as Google makes them available. The cell phone carriers often take months to make updates available (if they update at all).

Some specs for the new Galaxy Nexus phone:
1.2 GHz dual core processor
1 GB RAM, 16 GB flash memory storage
4.65" 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED screen
5 megapixel rear camera, 1.3 megapixel front camera
Can record HD video at 1080p
Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, works with Google Wallet
Android 4.0 operating system
Access to all Google Play applications

See specs, and place your order for the Google Galaxy Nexus phone here. This site is available only within USA, because the phone is for sale in USA at this time.