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Dell Finally Enters Smartphone Market

PC maker Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) has finally confirmed it's following rival Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) into the smartphone market after more than a year of speculation. (See Dell Unveils Smartphone Plans.)

The company announced the Dell Mini 3 on Friday morning. The handset, running a version of the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android operating system, is a key touch-screen phone that, at first look, most resembles High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498)'s G-Phones.

Dell's real coup is that it's launching the device with the largest mobile carrier in the world, China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), which has around 500 million subscribers. (See China: 1 Billion Lines Served .)

The appearance of Dell smartphone mock-ups in September, using China Mobile's own OPhone Android-based platform, reignited chatter about Dell cellphones. (See China's Battle of the Vowels.)

But China Mobile isn't Dell's only launch partner: Brazilian carrier Claro, part of the America Movil group, will also distribute the Mini 3. Claro is no small fish either, with 42 million subscribers on its books.

Dell also used the announcement to highlight its existing notebook and netbook partnership with operators such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Wireless , and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). (See AT&T Intros a Dell (But Not a Dell Phone).) The Mini 3 appears to be just the start of Dell's smartphone push.

"Our entry into the smartphone category is a logical extension of Dell's consumer product evolution over the past two years," Ron Garriques, president of the Dell Global Consumer Group, said in a statement. "We are developing smaller and smarter mobile products that enable our customers to take their Internet experience out of the home and do the things they want to do whenever and wherever they want."

The Android operating system offers a simple route for vendors such as Dell that are trying to break into the market right now, according to Heavy Reading senior analyst, Gabriel Brown.

"Android is like the new Windows Mobile, except it's free," he says. "For manufacturers trying to get into the smartphone market, such as Dell or Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Android is the obvious choice right now."

Dell's news comes only days after Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) upped its smartphone game with the launch of its high-end N900. (See Smartphone Showdown: Nokia Ships N900.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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