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Dell Set to Launch Android-based Smartphone in China Karishma Sundaram | , 12:57 p.m. Aug. 15, 2009 2009-08-15

When someone says ‘Dell’, one thinks about great personal computers, customization and possibly the best customer service in the market. As of now, the list does not include mobile phones. However that may well change for lucky consumers in China, as Dell seems to be jumping onto the smartphone bandwagon.

There have been numerous rumours that Dell is planning to launch a smartphone in China. Firstly, there was rampant speculation that Dell was very focused on creating a smartphone. Then rumours of an Android-based device were floating around on the Internet. The latest titbit to spew from the rumour mill was that the phone was bound for distant Chinese shores. China is a massive market undoubtedly, but the question begs to be asked: Why only China?

Rhetorical questions like those are unlikely to be answered anytime soon, so time would be more fruitfully spent in examining this new entrant into a very competitive and cutthroat market. 

The smartphone was initially christened ‘Benzine’; but that changed though as it was merely a codename. The phone is going to be retailed as the Ophone mini3i. Although there has been a great deal of confusion as to the mobile operating system used, most educated guesses were Android. There was even talk of the phone sporting a proprietary operating system in conjunction with a Chinese collaborator. Those doubts have disappeared now that all has been revealed and China Mobile is releasing a Dell phone with the Android operating system. 

The specifications include a Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE class 12 phone, with support for TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access). Unfortunately TD-SCDMA is a China-specific 3G standard, therefore it will most probably not work anywhere else, so buying the phone in China and secretly shipping elsewhere will be pointless. The phone weighs in at about 103 gms, and has a volume of 68.6 cc. The dimensions are 58 by 122 by 11.7 mm. 

Considering the ‘Ophone’ tag, nobody was surprised to see an iPhone-inspired large screen measuring 3.5”. Of course the screen has an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, supports handwriting recognition and multitouch as well. Considering the latter two functionalities, the touch screen technology must be a hybrid between resistive and capacitive technology. If not, handwriting recognition is pretty useless without a stylus. 

The phone features a 3 megapixel camera with auto focus and flash. It also supports digital zoom up to 8x and video shooting mode. Interestingly, there is a inbuilt photo editor although there is no indication of how powerful it is. 

In terms of software support, there is the ubiquitous Microsoft Exchange and the usual suspects in the instant messaging category. Connectivity can be achieved with Bluetooth and EDR. There is a USB port, and a MicroSD card slot. 

Hopefully a Dell smartphone may be making its way into other markets as well. In China, it seems to be some sort of consolation prize for the iPhone. Dell isn’t to blame though, the iPhone begs comparison from every other smartphone, perhaps excluding only the BlackBerry. 

The only photographs available of the phone are horribly blurred ones. They show the phone powered on with Android operating system. 

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