Huawei Lays Claim to First Affordable Smartphone

We're willing to gamble our in-laws that you've never heard of Huawei before (and if you have, don't pat yourself on the back until you've met our extended families), but there are a few reasons why that might change. First, Huawei is the largest networking and telecommunications hardware supplier in China, and they're also the second largest company in the mobile equipment market behind Ericsson. But what might really boost the company's popularity on a global scale is the release of what Huawei claims is the world's first Android-based smartphone that's actually affordable.

It's called the IDEOS and it comes built around the latest Android release, version 2.2 (or Froyo). It's priced between $100 and $200, which is admittedly pretty remarkable for a bona fide smartphone running Google's most up to date mobile OS, and it's apparently headed to the U.S. (as well as a number of countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America).

"We are proud to have already achieved our goal from early 2010 of developing a US$150 smartphone with an excellent user experience," said Kevin Tao, CEO of Huawei Device. "The IDEOS is an affordable option, designed to lower barriers to entry to allow easy mobile Internet access."

For 150 bones (presumably unsubsidized) we're not expecting a whole lot, and Huawei is so far fairly guarded about the exact hardware, but what we do know looks promising. There are three versions available -- U8300, U8500, U8800 -- the flagship model sporting a 3.8-inch screen, 3G, and can serve as a Wi-Fi router for up to eight devices. Pretty slick.