Dell unveils Android-based Mini 3 smartphone

The first carriers for the Android-based phone will be China Mobile and Brazil's Claro. Details on the devices? Those will come later.

Dell Mini 3
Three views of the Dell Mini 3 Dell

Dell said Friday that it's ready to enter the smartphone business with the Android-based Mini 3.

Long rumored to have a smartphone in the works , Dell said that the first two carriers to sell the Mini 3 will be China Mobile and Brazil's Claro.

In China, the Mini 3 will use OPhone, China Mobile's customized version of Google's Android operating system. "We are excited for Dell to be among the first manufacturers to introduce new technology based on the OPhone platform," an unnamed China Mobile representative said in Dell's press release.

Dell would not offer any specifics about the software on the Brazilian phone, saying simply that "the initial Mini 3 smartphones are designed around the Android platform."

Dell Mini 3 (angle view)

The company also did not provide technical specifications or pricing information for the phone, saying those would be revealed when the devices arrive in stores--probably late November for China Mobile and by year's end for Claro. It also did not say when the phone would arrive in the U.S. or other markets.

Dell did confirm that the Mini 3 has a 3.5-inch high-definition touch screen, a detail that Michael Tatelman, a Dell sales and marketing executive, had earlier told the Associated Press. The Mini 3 sold in China won't have Wi-Fi at the start, but Tatelman said that would come later.

Similarly, Apple's iPhone late last month made its official debut in China sans Wi-Fi .

Dell Mini 3 (side view)

China Mobile has more than 500 million customers, and Claro serves more than 42 million people in Brazil as part of the America Movil network, Dell said.

Dell did tout its "existing agreements with other leading global telecom providers," including Vodafone in Europe; AT&T and Verizon in the U.S.; M1 and Starhub in Singapore; and Maxis in Malaysia.

The Texas-based PC maker also played up the Internet connectivity angle of small mobile gadgetry.

"Our entry into the smartphone category is a logical extension of Dell's consumer product evolution over the past two years," Ron Garriques, president of the Dell Global Consumer Group, said in a statement. "We are developing smaller and smarter mobile products that enable our customers to take their Internet experience out of the home and do the things they want to do whenever and wherever they want."

But does the world need a smartphone from Dell ? The device will have plenty of company: Android phones have begun arriving on the market in larger numbers in recent months.

Most notably, U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless last week began selling the much-hyped Droid , made by Motorola, and the more modest Droid Eris , made by HTC.

Updated at 5:31 a.m. PDT with more details and background information, and again at 8:08 a.m. PDT with clarification on the use of China Mobile's OPhone and confirmation of the screen size..

About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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