Chicago-based telecommunications company U.S. Cellular, the fifth-largest network operator in the United States, began offering the HTC Touch Pro smartphone on its Website this week. The device made its debut at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this February and the Touch Pro was touted as a potential Apple iPhone killer. The company is offering the Touch Pro for $249.95 with a two-year contract and a $70 mail-in rebate.
So far, U.S. Cellular has not announced the Touch Pro's availability to an extent greater than advertising the phone on its Website, although the link that would guide customers to a tour of the phone is currently not working. Customers can access more information about the phone by doing a search for it via the "Phones" tab on the homepage.
The Touch Pro, which has had a delay in reaching the U.S. market, runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional under a TouchFlo 3-D interface. Other features include a WorldCard Mobile business card reader, Bluetooth 2.0 with stereo A2DP support, 512 MB Flash memory with microSDTM memory slot (expandable up to 32 GB) and a 3.2 megapixel camera with flash, auto focus and camcorder.
The addition of the Touch Pro should help fill out the company's meager smartphone offerings- according to the Web site, the only other Windows Mobile-powered smartphone the carrier offers is the HTC Touch, which is available after rebates for $99.95. US Cellular also offers a small selection of BlackBerry mobile devices, including the Pearl and the Curve, and the touchscreen Samsung Delve, which comes with a full HTML browser.
However, just days ago HTC released the Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2 smartphones to Singapore and Southeast Asia markets, which suggests the Touch Pro2 may soon come to the U.S. market through one of the five carriers. Incidentally, Verizon just began offering HTC's Touch Diamond for $299.99, after a $70 mail-in rebate and a new two-year contract.
U.S. Cellular is also beefing up its networks to better handle smartphones' constant connectivity-- as of autumn 2008 U.S. Cellular launched Mobile Broadband, a service allowing customers to access, through EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology, data on their cell phones 10 times faster than before.
The company says it plans to roll out 3G-capability in more cities in 2009; the service is currently limited to a handful of cities in the Midwest, including Chicago, Des Moines and Tulsa, Okla. Throughout April, the company released a series of press releases announcing network expansions throughout the country. U.S. Cellular currently serves 6.2 million customers.