Dell is finally launching their Android-based smart-phone on the AT&T network. Most are calling it a re-branding of their Dell 3i smartphone (Dell says 'sibling') that launched in China. Here's a quick and dirty rundown on what that means, and a sprinkling of speculation...

Here's what we know: it's running Android 1.5 or 1.6, not 2.0 or 2.1. It'll be sporting a custom GUI like a few other Android phones (HTC, MotoBlur). But this on has been custom developed by both Dell and AT&T, potentially linking the two companies closer together.

Whether they worked on the phone together for the US launch, or not, one thing is clear: it's going to be a crippled Android phone. Not physically, not technically, but software related. AT&T (unlike other networks with Android phones) locks down the ability of your phone to install non-Market apps on it. That means there's no ability to plug in your USB cable to your computer, and manually install Apps you've grabbed off the 'net or developed yourself. That's half the fun of an Android phone. The App world is your oyster.

That's not to say you can't get around it with a little hacking, but it goes to show you the kind of mentality at AT&T.

Hardware wise? The regular gamut: Wifi, 5MP camera, and a 'special' nHD 3.5 inch screen. We don't know what that means, but I think it means a quality screen with a high DPI like the Droid's. AT&T is also touting the fact this phone will be running "Flash Lite" to give you a "PC-Like" web browsing experience. Is that good or bad? That argument is for another blog.

But as if to add insult to injury, Dell made this announcement only minutes after the Palm Pre and Pixi were announced as new AT&T phones.

It doesn't look good for Palm, but we'll see how Android fares on AT&T, since this is only their 2nd Android phone to date.

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