AT&T Readies its First Android Phone

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The last holdout has fallen -- all four major U.S. wireless carriers now offer Android-based phones.

AT&T Thursday set a March 7 release date for the Motorola Backflip, which will become the

to run on AT&T's 3G network. The Backflip features a "flip-out" QWERTY keyboard that is designed to be opened more like a book than like a traditional slide-out keyboard. The phone will also feature Motorola's Motoblur overlay, which is essentially a social networking aggregator that lets users integrate friends' status updates and uploaded pictures from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace onto their home screens. AT&T says the device will sell for $99.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate.

The definitive Android smartphone guide

The Backflip will also be the first Android-powered phone to run on the HSPA 7.2 network that AT&T has been building out over the past year. HSPA 7.2 is a faster version of the standard HSPA technology that AT&T has used in its GSM-based 3G network. The carrier hopes to have HSPA 7.2 cover 90% of its 3G network by the end of 2011, when it will be preparing for its transition to Long Term Evolution 4G technology.

AT&T was the last carrier to officially offer an Android-based phone, as rivals Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile had all rolled out Android phones in 2008 and 2009. The Android mobile operating system, which Google designed and unveiled in 2007, is a Linux-based open platform for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and some key mobile applications. The idea behind the platform, according to Google, is to spur innovation in developing mobile applications that will give users the same experience surfing the Web on their phone as they have on their desktop computers.

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This story, "AT&T Readies its First Android Phone" was originally published by Network World.

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