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Motorola Milestone: The Droid drops exclusively on eXpansys until 2010

The Motorola Milestone is coming to the UK on 9 December, but it's not landing on a network -- instead, it's selling SIM-free from online shop eXpansys

The Motorola Milestone is making grown men cry and young girls scream over in the US, where it's called the Motorola Droid. It's the first phone to use the 2.0 'Eclair' release of Google's Android operating system, and its stunning screen and slide-out Qwerty keyboard has our colleagues at CNET US swooning.

Now we know when and where we'll be passing the Milestone here in beautiful Blighty. Motorola has taken the unusual step of partnering with SIM-free kingpin eXpansys to exclusively stock the phone until the end of the year, with the first phone shipping on 9 December.

That means if you want to get the Milestone around your neck without waiting, it's up to you to set it up with a SIM card from the network of your choice. You can pre-order the Motorola Milestone now from the eXpansys Web site for £450 plus £6.60 shipping.

It's a huge amount to stump up, but if you can spare the cash you'll save massively over the long term, thanks to the choice of cheap SIM-only contracts. Buying a 32GB iPhone in the same unlocked, SIM-free state will cost you an eye-watering £900 from eXpansys, and even subsidised from a network such as O2 or Orange, you'll still have to pay the piper over the 18 to 24 months you're locked into your contract. An HTC Hero that's packed with an older version of Android goodness is priced at £370, however, so don't be afraid to shop around.

The Milestone floats our boat because of its 94mm (3.7-inch) touchscreen, 5-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. It also has Motoblur, Motorola's user interface and online backup system, so you can merge your Facebook contacts into your phone's address book and automatically back up your photos online, among other things.

Unfortunately, we won't be getting Google Maps Navigation, Google's awesome-looking turn-by-turn sat-nav system. Instead, we'll get Motorola's sat-nav, Motonav, which is only free for 60 days.

And hey, eXpansys does discounts for five or more phones, so why not club together with some fellow CNET readers and buy in bulk?