Dell, China Mobile partner on smartphone

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It's official. Dell has entered the smartphone business.

After months of rumor and speculation, Dell confirmed it is working with China Mobile on a smartphone, known as the Mini 3i. The announcement was made in conjunction with the launch of China Mobile's application platform, the Mobile Market, which will offer music, games, videos and other entertainment applications.

China Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei told the Wall Street Journal that the Mini 3i would support the application platform. Dell China spokeswoman Teresa Shen declined to comment on the device's specifications, according to the Journal.

Dell spokesman Matthew Parretta told FierceWireless that Dell was supporting China Mobile's application platform efforts, and that he did not have any specific comment on any device. Parretta was quoted by PC Magazine as saying that Dell showed a "proof of concept" device at a China Mobile event.

"The only thing that we're confirming is that we're in product development with China Mobile," he told PC Magazine. "We were there as a development partner for the [Google Android-based] oPhone platform."

Although Dell declined to comment on the Mini 3i's specs, several blogs have posted unofficial pictures and specs of the device. According to the Boy Genius Report as well as the Chinese blog Netease, the phone runs an operating system based on Google's Android platform called Open Mobile System. The phone also features GSM/GPRS/EDGE support, a 3.5-inch touchscreen display and a 3-megapixel camera. The phone does not have WiFi or a physical keyboard.

Neither China Mobile nor Dell provided pricing or availability information for the phone, and Dell did not say if, or when, the phone would be available in the United States.

Dell's entry into the smartphone market comes at a critical time. As smartphone heavyweights Apple, Research In Motion and HTC attempt to solidify their positions, a range of vendors including Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have signaled their intent to bolster their own smartphone efforts.

For more:
- see this PC Magazine article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Boy Genius Report post
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this PC World article

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Rumor Mill: Is Dell set to announce a phone for China?
Dell hints at smartphone plans, but mystery remains
Rumor Mill: Is Dell working on an Android MID?
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