AT&T Adds HTC's Android-Powered Aria to Its Smartphone Lineup

Starting June 20, AT&T will be the exclusive U.S. carrier of the new HTC Aria, the latest mobile device powered by Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android 2.1 software. The Aria includes a five-megapixel camera and 3.2-inch HVGA display in what AT&T described as an "ultra-small" form factor; the Aria is just over 4 inches long and weighs just 4.05 ounces.

It's also the first of what AT&T said will be several Android 2.1 devices in its mobile lineup. While the HTC Aria isn't likely to make anywhere near the splash of the much-anticipated Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 4 coming later this month, it is a unique addition to AT&T's (NYSE: T) smartphone lineup.

“When you combine the nation’s fastest 3G network, and access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network, HTC Aria will be one of the best Android smartphones available," Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of devices for AT&T mobility and consumer markets, boasted in a statement. In addition to 3G coverage, AT&T said the Aria can tap any of the more than 20,000 "Hot Spots" it offers for instant Wi-Fi access across the U.S.

Aria also will include the latest version of HTC Sense software that's designed to give users the latest Facebook, Twitter and Flickr updates in a single consolidated view for staying current with their social networks. "By putting people at the center of everything it does, HTC Aria organizes all of your communications in the most human way possible -- by person," Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America, said in a statement.

AT&T said it will offer the HTC Aria on June 20 at its retail locations nationwide or online for $129.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate. As with many other smartphone plans, the purchase price requires a two-year service agreement including a data plan for Internet access.

The news comes at a time of increased competition in the smartphone market with Android-based devices and the iPhone making particularly strong gains in the past quarter.

Although Gartner estimates Android, available on a variety of devices from different vendors, has only a 9.6 percent share of the smartphone market worldwide, that represents a remarkable 707 percent increase from a year ago when Android's share was only 1.6 percent. For the most recent quarter, Nokia remained in first place, with 110.1 million units shipped, followed by Samsung with 64.9 million units, LG Electronics with 27.2 million units, followed by Sony Ericsson, Research in Motion, Motorola and Apple.

Apple's Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4 earlier this month along with announcing the June 24 availability at both Apple and AT&T stores.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


smartphones, iPhone 4, AT&T, HTC Aria, HTC Sense