Qualcomm partner to create China's first Android phone

CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 4 December, 2008

China Mobile is set to achieve its goal of unveiling its first Android handset before the end of 2008, though it will not go on sale until next year. Its first such device, the i6-Goal, looks like a fairly vanilla offering, with Google services tightly integrated as on the world's first Android phone, T-Mobile G1. But as the company ramps up its 3G roll-out, based on the TD-SCDMA technology, it will be looking for more customized Android smartphones for that network, and is looking to enhance its influence by creating its own semi-proprietary cellphone software platform.

The i6-Goal has been created by local phonemaker QIGI and mobile software developer TechFaith Wireless Communication Technology. The latter is likely to have a key input into China Mobile's plans to create its own take on Android, and this could, in turn, enhance the influence of Qualcomm, which has come out as a major supporter of the Google system. Qualcomm formed a joint venture with TechFaith in March 2006 geared to developing user interfaces and mobile applications for China and international markets.

The new China Mobile cellphone will, according to numerous leaks, boast a touchscreen and GPS, though of course it will only support 2G, so mobile broadband and VoIP applications will have to run over Wi-Fi until the operator gains a TD-SCDMA Android device. Google applications feature heavily of course, with Gmail, YouTube, Gtalk and other services available from the homescreen.

There is no physical Qwerty keyboard, even though Android does not officially support virtual keyboards yet - probably an early sign of the Chinese developers pursuing their own routes, outside the base Android platform or the open source process. Other features include a 624MHz processor, quad-band GSM, 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth and microSD expansion.