Telstra cuts HTC Desire price as Nexus One launches

Aggressive pricing signals start of mobile phone stoush

HTC's Desire is the first Android phone to be released on the Telstra network in Australia.

HTC's Desire is the first Android phone to be released on the Telstra network in Australia.

The nation’s biggest telco, Telstra, has taken a slice out of the cost of its flagship Android-based smartphone, the HTC Desire, just hours before rival Vodafone is slated to start selling Google’s Nexus One handset, which has similar specifications and was also built by HTC.

“Telstra announces new aggressive pricing for HTC Desire. To be available for $0 upfront on Telstra’s $49 Cap Plan from tomorrow,” Telstra said on its official Twitter account yesterday afternoon.

The telco had previously sold the Desire on a plan for $0 upfront on its $60 Consumer plan for 24 months, or for $0 upfront on its $85 Ultimate plan for 24 months – the latter including 150MB of data. But yesterday it revealed the Desire would now be available for $0 upfront on its $49 Cap plan on a 24 month contract, including 200MB of data each month. The next plan up – the $79 Cap plan – includes 500MB of data.

The news comes as Vodafone yesterday confirmed it would start selling the Nexus One today, although it only had “strictly limited” numbers of the device. No pre-orders were to be available, and the company was planning to take orders on a “first come, first-served based” through its website.

The company has won the exclusive right to sell the Nexus One in Australia and will offer the Google-branded handset for $0 upfront on a $79 cap plan on a 24 month contract.

Vodafone gave out little information to journalists yesterday about the launch, but it is providing further details to prospective customers through its Twitter account. The phone will be sold unlocked and won’t be available for sale in Vodafone stores – only online. There will be no unlocking fee and unlike the Desire, it won’t be available for purchase outright – only on a plan.

The mobile carrier could not immediately confirm when the 2.2 (Froyo) version of the Android operating system will be available to customers (the Nexus One will ship with Android 2.1), but it said the update would be available for download through the 3G network “soon”.

The HTC Desire has been available in Australia since mid-April. But a wave of other rival Android smartphones are currently hitting the market – such as Samsung’s Galaxy S, the LG Optimus and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10.

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