Version 2.1 of the Android operating system (which currently powers newer handsets like the Nexus One) may be coming to older Android phones in the U.S, according to a report. This corroborates some earlier rumors, and comes despite speculation that 2.1 simply wouldn’t fit on older hardware like T-mobile’s G1 handset.

The rumor is being reported by Taylor Wimberly of Android and Me, who cites “inside sources familiar with the matter.” Wimberly also notes that not all of the features of the Nexus One will make it to the older phones, such as Live Wallpaper, and that certain handsets may require a clean data wipe before installing 2.1 via PC interface (a departure from previous over-the-air updates that Android users have enjoyed).

Given that the most crucial user data stored on Android phones is generally in the cloud (e-mail, contacts calendar) and other apps and files can easily be backed up via SD card, a system wipe in exchange for a shiny new OS seems worthwhile. But questions remain about how older hardware will handle some of the heavier features of 2.1.

If the rumors are true, it would be great news for early adopters of Android who now long for the updated features of the Nexus One.

What do you think? If available, would you upgrade your old Android phone to 2.1, or simply purchase the newest hardware when you’re ready?

Tags: android, G1, Google, Mobile 2.0, nexus one, rumor, rumors