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Kogan's Android Smartphone, Agora, Apes Blackberry Style

The Agora Pro skips the flip screen and packs Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G connectivity, and Google's Android OS onto a mobile handset with a 2.5-inch touch screen.
When Google introduced the open source Android mobile operating system in 2007, the search giant said it hoped to have it on a slate of different handsets. But so far, consumers have only seen one Android-powered smartphone, the T-Mobile G1.


Kogan Agora Pro Smartphone

Kogan Agora Pro Smartphone
(click for larger image)

That changed this week, as the Australian manufacturer Kogan unveiled a pair of smartphones featuring Google's mobile OS. The Agora and Agora Pro may appeal to the smartphone user who wants to try Android but is turned off by the flip-screen form factor of the G1. The Agora phones pack 2.5-inch touch screens and QWERTY keyboards with a standard BlackBerry-like form factor.

The Agora Pro is the premium version, and users will be able to surf the Web on the Chrome-lite browser via 3G or Wi-Fi connection. It also has a GPS chipset that can be used in conjunction with Google Maps, as well as a variety of applications like Locale.

The G1 was not considered a multimedia powerhouse, and it looks like the Agora Pro will follow that path as well. But the Agora Pro does have a built-in FM radio and an audio player, and the memory can be expanded via a MicroSD slot. The smartphone also packs a 2-megapixel camera, and it has Bluetooth 2.0 capabilities.

Like any Android handset, the Agora Pro will be able to search, download, and install applications from the Android Market. The application center is already full of a wide variety of programs, including Pacman and an app that scans bar codes to compare pricing. The market is expected to swell with even more products in the first quarter of 2009 when Google allows content creators to charge for applications.

The Agora has the same form factor and OS as the Pro version, but it lacks the camera, Wi-Fi, and GPS. The handsets are available for preorder now, and they're expected to ship at the end of January 2009. The Agora Pro is quad-band GSM, and it will be sold unlocked for about $250; the Agora costs about $190.