Cellular South selling HTC Hero for $99

Cellular South is taking pre-orders for its first phone based on Google's Android platform, the HTC Hero, and announced that it will sell the device for $99, making it the cheapest Android phone on the market. The regional carrier also introduced a new, monthly smartphone data and calling plan for $80.

cellular south htc heroThe carrier will sell the Hero for $99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. By contrast, Sprint Nextel, which is launching the phone Oct. 11, is selling the Hero for $179.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate. Cellular South spokesman Dave Miller did not disclose when the company would officially launch the smartphone, but told FierceWireless that a launch was "imminent." Cellular South also plans to launch several other Android devices in the near future.

The Hero is widely considered by analysts to be one of the best Android devices on the market, and the fact that two carriers are supporting it may help broaden its appeal.

In conjunction with the impending Hero launch, Cellular South introduced a new rate plan called the Smartphone Unlimited Plan. The plan includes unlimited voice, texting, Web access and email for $80 per month. For each $80 plan, customers can add a second smartphone plan for $40 per month.

"We actually believe that the HTC Hero--with the Android mobile operating system--really is the next big thing in wireless as far as the ability to personalize and customize your device," Miller said. Correspondingly, there "has to be a plan that takes full advantage of the capabilities of that device."

The key differentiator to the Hero is HTC's Sense UI, which sports several features including putting a contact's photo alongside their text messages, emails and call history in a single view. Similar to the Push Internet feature that HTC unveiled at Mobile World Congress, Sense also will allow users to have customizable, push-based widgets such as weather, Twitter and email.  

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