Dell’s Android-Totin’ Aero on AT&T Joins the U.S. Smartphone Market

The CTIA show hasn’t yet kicked off in Las Vegas, but AT&T (s t) is already on the move. This morning it announced future availability of Palm’s (s palm) webOS phones and now there’s a new Android device coming too. Say hello to the Dell Aero, which follows the Motorola Backflip as AT&T’s second device running Google’s (s goog) operating system. With the other three main carriers embracing Android far sooner and with more devices, the Aero gives AT&T a chance to stand out from the crowd because no other carriers offer Dell phones just yet.

Details and specifications are sketchy for now, although I anticipate details out of the CTIA show over the next day or two. For now, we know it’s light — AT&T calls it the lightest Android device on the market. I’d say that confirms no hardware keyboard due to the weight it would add. It also offers a 5 megapixel camera and 3.5″ touchscreen display. The screen resolution has me scratching my head though — AT&T says it’s nHD, which sounds like a 640 x 320 screen — somewhere between HVGA and VGA, which these days is a relatively low resolution. AT&T is working with Dell on a customer user interface for the Aero, which will offer Adobe Flash Lite (s adbe) and GPS navigation, presumably through AT&T’s Navigator service. And just like those new webOS devices hitting AT&T soon, the Aero can use AT&T hotspots as needed.

The Aero looks exactly like the Dell Mini 3 that made the rounds at January’s CES show. I don’t recall any reports on which Android version the Mini 3 was running, but my suspicion is that the Aero will run on Android 1.6. Nearly all of the Android phones with a custom user interface currently run on either Android 1.5 or 1.6 these days. Android 2.x would be nice to see, but nearly all of the new apps and features in the latest version of Android are finding their way to version 1.6, perhaps as a way to diminish fragmentation issues between versions. In January, AT&T said that the Dell smartphone would be an exclusive handset to the carrier, so I’m not anticipating the Aero to appear on any other U.S. carriers.

Images courtesy of AT&T