Motorola Citrus Android Phone Launching for $49.99: Verizon

Verizon Wireless is launching its Motorola Citrus Android 2.1 smartphone for $49.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate. The holiday-priced device balances the $179.99 Motorola Droid Pro.

Verizon Wireless said it is launching the Motorola Citrus Android smartphone Nov. 11 for a wallet-pleasing $49.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate.

Selling a smartphone for $50 is certainly aggressive for the holidays, but the Citrus is not in the league of high-end Android handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S line or Motorola Droid devices. Fittingly, Verizon billed it as an "affordable, entry-level, customizable smartphone."

The Citrus is based on Android 2.1, which first appeared on Google's Nexus One 10 months ago. Most Android 2.1 devices, such as the HTC Droid Incredible, Droid X and others, were upgraded to Android 2.2 over the summer. Google is preparing to launch Android 2.3 any day now.

While most of Verizon's Android handsets are preloaded with Google Mobile applications such as Google Search and Google Maps, the Citrus comes with Bing Search and Bing Maps. Verizon's Samsung Fascinate also comes with Bing Search and Bing Maps out of the box.

The Citrus features an on-screen QWERTY keyboard and Backtrack, a touch panel located on the back of the device that lets users navigate and scroll through Web sites, home screens and other content while keeping the display free and clear.

The Citrus is also environmentally friendly. It is encased in 25 percent recycled plastic and is PVC- and BFR-free. See more specifications here.

Verizon will sell the device at its stores and online here. Consumers who buy the phone will receive a mail-in rebate in the form of a debit card that may be used as cash anywhere debit cards are accepted.

Citrus owners will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide plan and data package, which start at $39.99 and $15 per month (150 MB), respectively.

Motorola introduced the Citrus along with its cousin, the Spice, the Droid Pro and several other smartphones as the meat of Motorola's holiday lineup at the CTIA show Oct. 5.

Verizon Wireless is accepting pre-orders for the Droid Pro now. The enterprise-oriented handset will retail in stores Nov. 18 for $179.99 after a $100 rebate.