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MWC 2009: Huawei's Android Under Glass

BARCELONA -- GSMA Mobile World Congress -- Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is showing off its debut Android-based smartphone -- after a fashion -- here in the historic Catalonia capital, while there is no news yet on new Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) phones from either High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) or Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC).

The Chinese vendor has a prototype of its first smartphone under glass, safely away from prying hands, at its booth. So Unstrung can't tell you much about the device, except that it looks like a cross between the HTC G1 and the mysterious alien artifact in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Click on the pictures below for proof:

Black Box

We did, however, glean a little bit about the device from various spokespeople at the booth. It is due to be launched in the third quarter, and Huawei isn't announcing a carrier yet, but whichever operator picks it will be able to brand it however it wishes.

This is the crucial aspect of Huawei's move into the smartphone market. The vendor wants the operator to take all the glory and isn't insisting on any of its own branding on its smartphones.

Branding -- of hardware and software splash screens alike -- is a hot topic for both operators and vendors. Some vendors, like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), want to maintain control of many aspects of the branding, while others, like HTC, demand far less visibility.

Talking of HTC, there was no sign of any new Google devices on its stand, although, as our pictures show, people were still interested in trying the G1.

There was no sign of any Android play at the Samsung booth, either. Recent reports have suggested that the vendor may delay launch of a phone using the OS until the second half of 2009. (See MWC Preview: Hola, Android .)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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