HTC launched the Smart today, a low-cost smartphone that will come with the same Sense interface as the manufacturer's high-end devices, the Desire and the Legend.
The Smart is powered by Qualcomm's Java-based Brew operating system, but will offer some of the same functionality as a smartphone. It's a full touch-phone with a 2.8-inch resistive screen. It supports high-speed HSDPA internet, so apps download faster, and the full HTML browser can load webpages in full, rather than mobile versions.
Like the Desire and Legend, the Smart will feature integrated social networking via Friendstream, HTC's new contact sync program. The phone will be preloaded with popular programs such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, but as it targets first time smartphone users there is no app store like in HTC's Android and Windows Mobile smartphones.
Instead, HTC and O2 are working on a small app store stocked with Java versions of popular apps on other smartphone OSes.
HTC executive director Jon French said: 'This is not a one-off. We are moving into a more price-competitive segment. But we don't want to play mass market games – there are no price wars to enter into.'
French described the phone as a stepping stone between a feature phone and smartphone, but with the same functionality as higher-spec devices.
The Smart will launch in April exclusive to O2, and on significantly more aggressive tariffs, French said. O2 did not announce tariffs, but said the device would be available for around half the price of other smartphones, on both PAYG and contract.