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Android-Based Phone Comes To Life

10/22/2008 11:40:00 AM Eastern

Bellevue, Wash. — T-Mobile’s 3G-equipped G1, the industry’s first cellular phone based on Google’s open-platform Android operating system, goes on sale this morning in T-Mobile-owned stores and select third-party retail outlets in 95 cities where the carrier operates its 3G network.

The $179 HTC-made smartphone, equipped with Web-browsing touchscreen and horizontal slide-out QWERTY keyboard, is also available for purchase online at www.T-MobileG1.com.

In markets where the carrier hasn’t turned on 3G service, T-Mobile stores have demo units on hand and will take orders for a delivery at a date that T-Mobile hasn’t specified. All T-Mobile stores, however, are opening today at 8 a.m. local time to handle potential customer traffic.

T-Mobile’s 3G network, which delivers data downloads at speeds up to 1Mbps, will expand by the end of November to 120 major US cities.

Preceding in-store availability of the Linux-based phone, Google and the Open Handset Alliance announced, as promised, the availability of the Android source code at no charge to software and hardware developers, including applications developers and handset manufacturers. Their intent is to spur widespread adoption of the platform, reduce the time needed to bring handsets to market and accelerate the development of third-party applications that will be available for over-the-air download from Google’s online app store.

Also on the eve of the launch, Kyocera announced that it is developing an Android-based handset but didn’t target a ship date. Other handset makers expected to offer Android phones are LG, Motorola and Samsung, all of which are alliance members.

T-Mobile is targeting the G1 to the mass market, and T-Mobile CMO Denny Marie Post noted that among T-Mobile subscribers who preordered the phone, about half traded up from a basic phone. The preorders illustrate “the leap many consumers are taking to a rich, accessible mobile Web experience,” Post said. “Its design, functionality and value make the first-of-its-kind T-Mobile G1 a truly approachable device for the masses,” the CMO contended.

The carrier-subsidized SIM-locked phone operates in EDGE data mode in four bands, in high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) mode in T-Mobile’s 1.7/2.1GHz bands, and in Wi-Fi mode for connection to Wi-Fi networks. It comes out of the box loaded with such GPS-enabled Google applications as Google Maps and Street View. It also offers Google’s Gmail, Google Talk instant messaging and YouTube services. The device is also loaded with other IM clients, an HTML email client that syncs email from most other POP3 or IMAP mail services, apps to open and read Microsoft Word and PDF documents, and Amazon’s MP3 store, enabling Wi-Fi downloads of unprotected MP3 music files direct to the device.

In the United States, the phone will be sold with voice plans combined with one of two data plans. A $25/month data plan allows unlimited Web usage and some messaging. A $35/month plan allows unlimited Web use and messaging. The phone is not equipped to operate as a mobile modem that connects to laptops

It ships with included 1GB MicroSD card and handles 8GB cards.