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AT&T armed to teeth with Android as 2012 winds down

There's more than just the iPhone 5 out there. A string of recent Android announcements from a variety of vendors could spell success for AT&T.

The Samsung Rugby Pro (L) and Samsung Galaxy Express (R) Samsung

Perhaps believing that it's not wise to put all its smartphones in an iPhone basket, AT&T has been on an Android tear lately. The last two weeks have yielded eight handset announcements with more on the way as we head full-on into the holiday buying season. Suffice it to say, AT&T is headed into the fourth quarter with its strongest Android lineup to date.

Starting at the "low end" of the spectrum, Samsung has an upcoming pair of handsets in the Galaxy Rugby Pro and Galaxy Express.

Although we still have to wait for the pricing and exact release date, we know a little about each device. The Galaxy Rugby Pro's rugged design offers military-grade protection against water, dust, and shock. While most of these tougher handsets are bogged down with antiquated Android builds, the Samsung phone runs 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. What's more, the phone manages to pack in a 4-inch display, a 5-megapixel camera, and push-to-talk capability.

The 4G LTE-ready Galaxy Express is aimed at first-time smartphone users yet still features rather impressive hardware. Details include a 4.5-inch Super Amoled Plus display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, a 2,000mAh battery, and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. Also running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the Galaxy Express will likely hover around $99 or less with a contract.

If you're begging for an upgrade to the HTC One V (and I wouldn't blame you if you were), AT&T announced this week that it will be the exclusive carrier for the HTC One VX, a midrange smartphone with a unibody design. Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the phone comes with a 4.5-inch qHD display, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Consider it a great stopover on the way to the new quad-core beast, the HTC One X+.


The HTC One X+ is a refreshed version of the flagship device from mid-2012. Features include a smoking-fast 1.7GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip, 64GB internal storage, and a 2,100mAh battery. What's more, the 4G LTE version of the One X+ runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and, according to HTC, promises to be "up to 67 percent faster."

At some point in the next few weeks, AT&T will release its next Sony smartphone, the Xperia TL. Timed to coincide with the opening of the new James Bond flick, "Skyfall," the phone is certainly impressive with its 4.6-inch display, 13-megapixel camera, and 1.5GHz dual-core processor. Pricing has not been announced, but I'm hoping for something around $150 with a contract.

Also due is AT&T's version of the new LG Optimus G. Highlights include a 13-megapixel camera, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core CPU, NFC, and a 4.7-inch HD display with a 1,280x768-pixel resolution and an aspect ratio of 15:9.

If you fancy a phablet, don't forget that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 should touch down on Ma Bell's doorstep in a few weeks, perhaps around October 24.

AT&T won't necessarily have any advantage over other carriers here, but it's a great device to have nonetheless. For those unaware, the Galaxy Note 2 is the Android 4.1 handset that boasts a gigantic 5.5-inch display and S Pen technology. If Samsung has its way, you'll see plenty of the Note 2 this fall.

LG's Optimus G Brian Bennett/CNET

Odds and Ends
AT&T recently revealed that it will begin offering the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 tablet, though didn't disclose pricing or availability. Also unclear at this point is whether this will be offered with carrier subsidy or on pay-as-you-go data plans. My gut tells me this will be an AT&T version marketed around the provider's shared data plans.

Staying with prepaid options, AT&T is just about ready to kick off its new $65-per-month GoPhone plan. Featuring unlimited texting and talk time and 1GB data use, its introduction is the perfect opportunity to introduce a new Android smartphone.

Such is the case with the Huawei-manufactured Fusion 2, a $99 handset with yesterday's specs. Details here include Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 3.5-inch display (320x480), a dual-core 800MHz processor, a 3.2-megapixel camera, and 512MB RAM. While it's not something you'd replace your existing smartphone with, it's a nice way to introduce Android to your teen or grandparent.

Assuming there are no delays and the prices are right, there will be something for everyone at AT&T over the next few months. Whereas last year's Android arsenal seemed to belong to Verizon, AT&T is doing its part to keep and attract consumers. I'll be curious to see if buyers prefer hardware-heavy devices this fall or if the midrange will win out because of sheer volume. Do you have your eye on a particular model as the year draws to a close?