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Sprint builds Android stable with Samsung Transform, Sanyo Zio

Mobile operator Sprint is expanding its stable of Android-equipped smartphones as it gears up for the holiday season, adding the new QWERTY-packing Samsung Transform to its lineup to appeal to smartphone customers who lead email- and messaging-intensive lives, along with the Sanyo Zio, aimed at being an inexpensive starter smartphone for folks stepping up from feature phones. Both phones run Android 2.1…although, at least in the Transform’s case, Sprint says Android 2.2 is just around the corner.

Starting off with the Samsung Transform, the device features a 3.5-inch 480 by 320-pixel touchscreen display and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, along with dual cameras (a 3.2 megapixel camera for pictures and a front-facing VGA camera for video chat), along with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and stereo Bluetooth wireless networking. The Transform is GPS-enabled—so location-aware services all work—and the device operates on Sprint’s 3G EV-DO Rev A network. Of course, the phone sports all Android 2.1 capabilities—speech to text, visual voicemail, access to the Android Market, social networking applications, full HTML Web browsing, etc., and users can pack up to 32 GB of movies, music, and more using removable microSD storage. The Transform ties in with Sprint Zone services like Sprint Music Plus, Sprint TV, and Sprint’s NASCAR offerings, and also supports Sprint’s new Sprint ID technology so users can download “ID packs” that make over their phones for a “predefined” experience. (Because, obviously, the whole point of a highly customizable smartphone is to stick with predefined, themed experiences.) The Transform supports up to five unique Sprint IDs.

The Samsung Transform will go on sale October 10 for $149, after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year service agreement.

Sprint hopes folks looking for an easier entry into the Android world might consider the Sanyo Zio—which is actually manufactured by Kyocera. The Zio runs Android 2.1 and features a 3.5-inch 800 by 480-pixel WVGA touchscreen display and virtual QWERTY keyboard with haptic feedback for text entry and messaging, along with a trackball for navigating onscreen interface. The Zio also packs a 3.2 megapixel video-capable camera with autofocus, a microSD slot that can handle up to 32 GB of removable storage, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and assisted GPS for location-aware services. Of course, the Zio works with Sprint ID (predefined experiences!), Sprint Zone account management, and Sprint Music Plus. The Zio will go on sale October 10 priced at $99.99, after a $100 mail-in rebate with a qualifying two-year service agreement.