HTC has announced the Australian launch of its highly anticipated Hero and Tattoo Android smartphones, revealing that it will partner with retailer Harvey Norman rather than a carrier.
The HTC Hero ($799) and the HTC Tattoo ($599) smartphones will be initially available through Harvey Norman outright, and further retail distribution channels will be announced at a later date.
HTC's Australia and New Zealand Sales and Marketing Director Anthony Petts confirmed the company is in "ongoing discussions" with Australian carriers for both smartphones, but did not reveal any further details at the launch.
"We are having ongoing discussions with operators here in Australia, but at this stage both phones will be sold through Harvey Norman initially," said Petts.
One operator who definitely won't be carrying the HTC Hero and Tattoo smartphones is Telstra — HTC confirmed Australia will not receive an 850MHz version of either handset, despite a model being available in North America. Telstra's Next G network operates exclusively on the 850MHz band in Australia, but the Australian Hero and Tattoo smartphones only work on the 2100MHz or 900HMz bands.
Both the HTC Hero and HTC Tattoo are full touch-screen smartphones running Google's Android operating system. The Hero has a 3.2in capacitive touch screen that is coated with an "anti-fingerprint" coating. It also boasts built-in GPS, a digital compass, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 5-megapixel autofocus camera and has expandable memory via a microSD card slot.
The HTC Tattoo is a smaller, cheaper variant of the Hero. It has a smaller 2.8in resistive touch screen and still includes GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera and an FM radio. Users of the Tattoo can also order customised snap-on covers from the HTC website for $29.90 each. You can choose from standard designs or upload your own photo to be used as a design.
The HTC Hero runs the Android 1.5 OS, while the Tattoo is equipped with Android 1.6. Upgrades can be downloaded via a PC, and HTC Australia confirmed both handsets will eventually be upgradeable to the Android 2.0 software.
The HTC Hero comes in "mocha black", while the HTC Tattoo is grey. In other markets, the Hero is available in white, pink and gold but these versions won't be available in Australia. In addition, the Hero's mocha black version lacks the Teflon coating used on the white variant.
Both the Hero and the Tattoo smartphones feature HTC's Sense "philosophy". This is based on three principles: "make it mine", "stay close" and "discover the unexpected" — by personalising your phone with glance-view widgets, integrating Facebook status and photo updates into a single address book view, and providing social-networking and multimedia functions on the home screen.
In addition to the launch of the two new smartphones, HTC also unveiled its new tag line, "quietly brilliant". The "quietly brilliant" campaign will launch in Australia in Q1 2010 and HTC is aiming to build a strong brand by "telling our story to the world".
The HTC Hero will be available from Harvey Norman at the end of November, and the Tattoo in late December.