HTC Releasing Three Android Phones In China

The company will have to remove Google Maps and tailor the operating system on the Hero, Magic, and Click to gain Chinese government approval.
HTC's Google Android-Powered Hero
(click image for larger view)
HTC's Hero
HTC will be bringing out three custom-tailored Android handsets for China by the end of the year, the smartphone maker said.

The company will be working with Dopod to distribute the handsets, and it will be releasing the HTC Hero, the Magic, and a lower-cost handset known as the Click. All of the handsets will have to be tweaked to comply with China's standards, HTC said.

The Hero was recently released in the European markets, and it's a high-end smartphone with a 3.2-inch capacitive touch screen. The handset will be compatible with China Unicom's WCDMA 3G standard, and it will reportedly support China's wireless LAN security protocols in order to maintain Wi-Fi.

HTC said it will have to remove Google Maps as an embedded application in order to receive government approval. Users will still be able to access this app through the mobile Web browser or download the program later, HTC said.

The Magic is another touch-screen smartphone, and it is essentially a T-Mobile G1 without a keyboard. The handset will run China Mobile's Open Mobile System, which is the mobile operator's version of Android that has special branding and proprietary apps preloaded.

The Click is a low-end device that has not been offered in other countries yet, and it will have removable faceplates for personalization. The company said the 3G handset would be released in the fourth quarter for China Unicom, and it could eventually be released in other markets.

While the mobile industry as a whole is expected to dip this year, the Chinese market is becoming increasingly important for handset manufacturers due to the number of potential customers. China Mobile already has over 400 million subscribers, and there is still vast room for growth in the country.

The majority of subscribers in China use entry-level phones for making calls and sending text messages, but they are increasingly upgrading to sophisticated handsets that can play music, browse the mobile Web, and send e-mails. Apple has yet to officially sell the iPhone in China, but In-Stat estimates there are already about 400,000 unlocked iPhones in the country.

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