Android goes pre-paid with Telstra for $349

Caller ID that pulls Facebook data

HTC Wildfire

HTC Wildfire

Tesltra and HTC have partnered to offer the first pre-paid Android-based mobile handset, the HTC Wildfire, to the local market at a street price of $349.

The Wildfire has been dubbed 'Desire’s little brother' and offers much of the same functionality as the HTC Desire in a smaller package.

In addition to pre-paid, the Wildfire will also be available with post-paid caps and is free on the $49 cap and $10 per month on the $29 cap.

Director of mobility products at Telstra, Richard Fink, said the Desire shipments can’t keep up with demand since the phone was launched in April, but there is more room in the market for a pre-paid smartphone like the Wildfire.

“With the explosion of interest in smartphones, our pre-paid customers have been asking Telstra for a good value way to get in on the action,” Fink said.

Speaking at the Wildfire launch event at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, Fink said the HTC Wildfire is Telstra’s first pre-paid smartphone for Next G customers.

“We know our customers will love the HTC Wildfire’s compact size and its easy-to-use menus that can be filled with thousands of fun Android apps and games.”

The Wildfire is not as powerful as the Desire, but it runs the same Android (version 2.1) operating system and has a few new features like Android and PC synchronisation apps for transferring content between phones and to a Windows PC.

A phone app can import contact and calendar information via Bluetooth allowing “seamless” transfer of contacts to a new phone. The app can pull data from all types of handsets, not just Android-based phones.

The HTC Sync 3.0 app is a Windows application that can be used to synchronise the Wildfire with a PC, including contacts, calendar, photos, documents, music and playlists.

HTC sales and marketing director for Australia and New Zealand, Anthony Petts, said with Media Sync people can carry around their favourite music and photos more easily and once the data is transferred from the phone to the PC it can then be exported to any other desktop application.

Other new features in the Wildfire include a new caller ID that pulls Facebook avatars, status updates and birth dates, and an app sharing widget that can be used to recommend an app to another person via SMS, e-mail or a social network like Twitter.

The handset is available in black or white.

This device is also the first Telstra smartphone to feature Swype text input technology thanks to an OEM agreement between Telstra, HTC and Swype.

Swype allows people to slide their finger across a virtual keyboard to spell words, rather than tapping out each letter.

Fink said he would like to see Swype available on all Telstra’s smarphones.

No Android 2.2 yet

With Android 2.2 now available, Telstra is working on getting an update out to its Desire user base, and Fink said it should be ready in September.

The Wildfire is capable of running 2.2, but Petts said HTC has not made a decision to port it to the new device.

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is rodney_gedda@idg.com.au. Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

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