HTC Bringing Android Phone To China

China Mobile's Android-based handsets will be dubbed "OPhones" and will directly compete with Apple's iPhone.

HTC Magic

HTC Magic
(click for larger image)
HTC will sell a smartphone with the Google-backed Android operating system in China next month.

The smartphone company, which made its name designing Windows Mobile devices like the HTC Touch, has the only commercially available Android handset on the market with the T-Mobile G1. It won't hold that distinction much longer, though, as companies like Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola are expected to have smartphones available this year using the Linux-based operating system.

HTC will bring its Magic smartphone to China Mobile with some modifications to its user interface, HTC CEO Peter Chou told The Wall Street Journal. China Mobile's Android-based handsets will be dubbed "OPhones" and will directly compete with Apple's iPhone, which is expected to be offered by China Unicom by the end of the year.

The Magic shares many of the characteristics of the G1, but it ditches the full QWERTY keyboard for a stronger emphasis on touch. The handset will likely run Android 1.5 with some modifications that are unique to China Mobile. The handset also has the specifications one expects from a high-end smartphone, including Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS, Bluetooth, and multimedia functionality.

The move is another sign of the increasing importance of China in the mobile industry because of its number of potential customers. For example, China Mobile is already the world's largest mobile operator with more than 500 million subscribers, and there's still plenty of room for growth in the country. The majority of Chinese customers use entry-level devices that are only capable of making calls and sending texts, but these subscribers are quickly upgrading to sophisticated handsets that can access the mobile Web, send e-mail on the go, and play multimedia files.

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