Australia will get the world’s first Android phone outside the US when Optus launches HTC’s Dream on Monday February 16th.
The carrier will sell the Dream on four plans beginning at $59 per month, with data allowances from 500MB to 3GB, but the cost of the handset is extra and could depend on if the buyer chooses a 12 month or 24 month contract.
The entry-level plan will cost $59 per month and comprises for 500MB of data plus $350 worth of talk and text. Handset repayments will be an additional $15 per month on a 24 month contract or a whopping $51 on a 12 month contract.
One step up is the $79 plan, with 700MB of data and $500 of calls plus ‘unlimited’ national text (overseas SMS messages will still cost 50c each). Add an extra $13 (24 month contract) or $49 (12 month contract) for the Dream.
Optus’ mid-range plan belongs to its ‘Timeless’ family, which offers unlimited standard local and national landline calls plus unlimited calls and text to any Australian mobile. This costs $114, being the $99 Timeless plan plus a $15 add-on mobile Internet pack with 1.5GB of data, to which you add an extra $9 (24 month contract) or $45 (12 month contract) for the Dream handset – so your total monthly spend is either $123 per month over 24 months or $159 per month over 12 months.
Heavy-duty users will want to head straight to the top-end $129 Timeless plan with 3GB of data, and handset fees of $3 (24 month contract) or $39 (12 month contract). For full details on the plans, visit optus.com.au/dream
Despite an estimated retail price of $1,000 the phone won’t be available outright through Optus, nor will it be sold through HTC retailers. However, Optus’ Acting Manager Director of Consumer, Michael Smith, admitted the Dream was likely to be offered for outright purchase “in due time”.
But it won’t be locked to the Optus network. Additionally, HTC Australia’s sales and marketing director Anthony Petts told APC that the Dream was not exclusive to Optus, with other carriers able to add the Dream to their portfolio if they chose.
Smartphone fans living in regional Australia won’t be thrilled by the news that the Dream doesn’t support Optus’ 3G-enhanced 900MHz network which the carrier is using to extend its mobile broadband reach. On 900MHz the Dream will perform only at Optus' useless GSM/GPRS speeds – it’s only on the primary 2100MHz 3G network that the Dream’s HSDPA 3.6Mbps speeds kick in.
And even then, Optus' network performance has been widely criticised for appallingly slow latency of up to 1 second per packet, on top of low throughput speeds.
The Dream is identical to T-Mobile’s G1 Android phone, which HTC manufactures for T-Mobile, although Optus has taken the geek chic black model compared to the candy white version sold by T-Mobile.
The Dream won’t be bundled with the usual Optus add-on software – the only concession is a set of bookmarks to the carrier’s Zoo mobile portal page.
Nor does the Dream include Google’s ‘Cupcake’ update to the open-source OS. This means it still lacks an on-screen QWERTY keyboard (similar to those of the iPhone and BlackBerry Storm) and the turbo-charged WebKit-based browser with find and copy/paste features; nor does it support A2DP or ‘Bluetooth Stereo’.
A HTC spokesman said that the Cupcake update would make its way onto the Dream as an over-the-air update pushed out within the next few weeks, in the same timeframe as it was delivered to T-Mobile G1 users in the US.