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Orange and T Mobile announce iPhone rival

Mobile phone operators Orange and T Mobile have gone head-to-head, with both companies today announcing the launch of the new HTC Hero Android handset.

The touchscreen handset, which features a 5-megapixel camera and full integration with Google web applications, runs the Android operating system, and is set to be one of the key challengers to the dominance of Apple's iPhone in the smartphone market.

The phone will be offered on a contract of £39.15 a month from Orange, including 1200 free minutes and unlimited texts, and on T Mobile's £40 a month Flext 40 price plan. Available in black from T Mobile and graphite from Orange, the phone's open-source operating system was developed by Google and a number of technology companies.

Richard Warmsley, Head of Internet & Entertainment Services at T Mobile, the first company to launch an Android phone last year with the G1, was keen to promote the new addition to the company's range. "As the fastest-growing open apps platform, Android promises the kind of innovation scale that only comes from being available across a range of phones all over the world," he said, adding that he expected one in five T Mobile internet users to be using an Android-powered device by the end of the year. Satisfaction rates with the G1, one of only two Android phones on the market, are high, with 90 per cent of users reportedly happy to recommend the phone to their friends.

A spokesperson from Google, who are keen to support the Android operating system, explained the importance of Android's open source foundations. "As the world's first open mobile platform, we believe Android will help spur greater innovation, for the benefit of mobile users everywhere," he commented.