Mobile World Congress: Vodafone Gives Us Android!

Just when you thought Mobile World Congress was going be a bust in the Google Android-based device department, Vodafone plc comes to the rescue.

On Tuesday the world’s largest carrier said it would exclusively launch the Android-based HTC Magic this spring in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and France. In Italy the device will launch on the Vodafone network, but not on an exclusive basis.

The rumor that it would be making the announcement was floated by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, and it turns out the paper had the scoop.

The HTC Magic will sync up with the Android Market – good news for the software store, considering it’s been lagging behind the Apple App Store in terms of attracting developers. A second device to run the applications on should sweeten the appeal of Android Market for programmers deciding where to place their efforts.

As one might expect, it also will come with native Google apps like Gmail, Maps and more.

Hardware-wise, the Magic has a trackball and a touchscreen, but no slide-out QWERTY keyboard like the T-Mobile G1, which is also made by HTC. It’s a quad-band number with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, HSDPA/WCDMA (900/2100MHz), and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

Vodafone didn’t release exact launch dates or pricing.

The news is likely the only Android-related announcement at MWC. Samsung said its Android device was never slated to launch at the show, contrary to pre-MWC reports, while T-Mobile USA G1-maker HTC dodged questions as to when its next Android devices would be launched. HTC President Peter Chou said more Android phones are part of the roadmap but that Windows Mobile is a big focus for the company.

For its part, LG said that it was planning to launch Android phones – sometime before the end of the year. And Huawei Technologies said it was targeting the third quarter for an Android devices.

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