AT&T embraces Android further with HTC Aria launch

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is launching its first Android phone made by HTC, the Aria.

The carrier will launch the Aria June 20 for $130 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. The launch is a significant one for AT&T. Though the carrier leads in smartphone penetration, it was the last of the Tier 1 carriers to embrace Google's mobile platform. So far, AT&T has released the Motorola (NYSE:MOT) Backflip and plans to launch the Dell Aero, both of which use the Android platform. The company said it January it planned on releasing five Android phones in the first half of the year, including devices from HTC.

The Backflip was panned by some critics because AT&T made Yahoo the default search engine and blocked subscribers from installing non-market apps from unknown sources. Meanwhile, AT&T has yet to formally announce a price or release date for the Dell Aero.

The Aria, which was leaked online in a video by an AT&T product manager, runs on Android 2.1 and uses HTC's Sense UI. The device is compatible with AT&T's HSPA 7.2 technology, has a 3.2-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, an optical joystick and WiFi.

HTC has now emerged as a clear favorite among U.S. carriers for high-end Android phones. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is having trouble keeping up with demand for the HTC Droid Incredible, its current flagship Android phone, due to component shortages. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is also heavily promoting the HTC Evo, its first 3G/4G smartphone. The Taiwanese handset maker is also the manufacturer of the Nexus One, Google's own flagship Android phone.

For more:
- see this release
- see this AT&T video

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