LePhone Showcases Android’s Strength — and Weakness

Lenovo’s LePhone, announced yesterday at CES, is an impressive-looking smartphone that’s expected to come to market later this year. The Android-based handset packs in Qualcomm’s (s qcom) Snapdragon processor and seems to showcase nearly all the impressive features of Google’s (s goog) mobile operating system — except any of the Google apps. Which underscores why Android’s amazing flexibility is a double-edged sword.

The handset — which PCMag.com’s Sascha Segan christened the “nemesis” of the Nexus One — is the PC vendor’s first since buying back its phone unit in November. (It will be available initially in China, then the U.S.) And there’s a lot to like about LePhone, which — according to early reviews — has a sleek look and feel much like Google’s new handset, and features a highly customizable version of the OS. But the surprising lack of the Android Market or any other visible Google offering is the latest sign that hardware manufacturers and carriers are increasingly taking the platform and reshaping it as they see fit. That’s a great selling point for Android, of course, but it also could lead to a world where a vast number of Android-based handsets and services compete with one another. And it could be the latest step toward the kind of splintered Android universe that James over at jkOnTheRun warned about months ago.

Image courtesy of Trusted Reviews.