Having come under renewed pressure from updated mobile operating system Windows Mobile 6.5 and competitors including the iPhone and Palm Pre, Google's own mobile phone project received a boost today as T-Mobile announced the first pay-as-you-go Android handset.

The 'T-Mobile Pulse' looks set to open up the previously expensive world of the smartphone to the lower-end of the mobile phone market, with Google's open-source operating system powering a device developed by manufacturers Huawei. With a 3.5-inch touchscreen, 3.2 mega-pixel camera and GPS, the Pulse also comes with access to the Android Marketplace, Google's equivalent of Apple's popular app store. Crucially for an operating system which relies heavily on access to the internet to take advantage of its full set of features, unlimited online access will be available from £5 a month, with the handset costing £180. A pay monthly contract will also be available, though the pricing is reportedly yet to be finalised.

The phone is the fourth handset on the UK market powered by Android, after T-Mobile's G1 and G2 Touch, and the Orange's Magic, all of which were developed by HTC, and have been priced similarly to competitors such as Apple's new iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre, as well as Blackberry's range of smartphones. With Google claiming there will be 18 Android-powered phones available by the end of the year however, this first offering aimed at the larger market for cheaper mobiles could prove a tipping point for widespread uptake of what Richard Warmsley, head of internet and entertainment of T-Mobile, has described as "an exciting global platform for the next few years".

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