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Sprint Unveils Its First Android Phone

On Sept. 3, Sprint Nextel announced it will soon start selling HTC Hero, a device that?? already won accolades in Europe. The smartphone, which will become available on Oct. 11 for $180 with a wireless contract and after a rebate, is the first device from Sprint to feature Android, a phone operating system developed by a consortium of companies lead by Google. When it comes out, it just may be the snazziest Android-based device around.

HTC?? older Android model, G1, has won many fans among techies, but has failed to reach the mainstream consumer. Its newer phone, MyTouch 3G, is currently being heavily promoted by T-Mobile USA, but it has largely been viewed as an iPhone clone. But the Hero has, so far, received very good reviews. One reviewer even liked it better than the Palm Pre.

The device should certainly help Sprint retain subscribers, who have been leaving to get rival carriers?gadgets, like the Apple iPhone at AT&T. It should also drastically expand HTC’s presence in the U.S. market.

That said, in the next few months, the Hero — and Sprint — will face a lot of competition: Motorola is due to announce its Android handsets on Sept. 10. Just like the Hero, Moto’s handsets are expected to offer many nifty social-networking and customization features. But those phones may not come out until late October or early November, some analysts believe.

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