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Huawei to launch Android handsets

Chinese handset maker Huawei is talking up Android and other operating systems at the GSMA Global World Congress 2009 in Barcelona this week.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to a Huawei executive as James Chen. The executive's name is Edward Chen.
This is a mock-up of the Google Android phone Huawei is showing at its booth at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009. Design-wise, it looks pretty similar to the iPhone. Marguerite Reardon CNET News/CBS Interactive

BARCELONA--Chinese handset maker Huawei Technologies said Monday at the GSMA Global World Congress 2009 here that it plans to start selling phones using Google's Android operating system later this year.

Details about the upcoming phones are still scarce. But the company said it's partnering with a design consultancy company. The device is still in development and is expected to hit the market in the third quarter of this year.

Huawei is a large telecommunications equipment maker that has been manufacturing handsets it sells to wireless operators, which then resell the devices under their own brands.

To date, the company has had little presence in the U.S. market. It currently sells one handset in the U.S. called the M328, which is sold through low-cost regional carrier MetroPCS.

Edward Chen, head of Huawei's devices unit, told Reuters that the company is also considering phones that use other operating systems, including Symbian, the leading smartphone operating system on the market. The company has also considered using Linux from the LiMo Foundation.

While the rest of the cell phone market is contracting amid the global recession, Huawei told Reuters it expects sales to grow. Chen said he believes the company will sell between 40 million and 45 million phones in 2009, compared with 33 million in 2008.

Chen also told the news service that Huawei is readying a phone for late this year or early next year that operates on the 4G wireless network technology called Long Term Evolution (LTE). AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. have each announced that they plan to use LTE to build their next-generation wireless networks.