Picture of Google's Experimental Handset Appears on Twitter

A picture of an experimental Android handset given out to Google employees had blogs buzzing over the weekend amid signs that the company could offer a Google-branded smartphone next year.

The picture of the touchscreen phone, carried on sites including TechCrunch and Engadget, was posted online by Twitter user Cory O'Brien.

O'Brien offered a few observations about the phone, which appears to be an upcoming HTC handset called Passion. He noted that the handset is the same size as Apple's iPhone but has a screen that is roughly 5 millimeters longer.

News of the new Android handset spread quickly on Saturday, after Google announced in a blog post that its employees were testing a new Android handset.

On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported Google plans to sell an Android-based phone called Nexus One directly to consumers starting next year. The phone will be sold online, it said.

The report did not say whether the handset distributed to Google employees is the same handset that will be sold under the company's brand.

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