AT&T announced that the tiny HP Veer 4G smartphone will go on sale May 15 for $99.99 with a two-year contract.
Introduced in February along with HP's TouchPad tablet, the Veer is a slider device that is the width and length of a credit card and roughly the thickness of a deck of cards. It will run the latest HP WebOS and is the smallest of the HP WebOS smartphones.
It is also the first WebOS phone on AT&T from HP since it purchased Palm, the WebOS maker, noted independent analyst Jeff Kagan. The Pre2 came out on Verizon Wireless shortly after the HP acquisition of Palm.
"The key [to success] will be how well Veer works," Kagan said. "Palm has been through the ringer in the last several years. The good part is that the Palm phones had many users and were reliable devices in the smartphone category."
Kagan said Palm has been hurt by Apple's iPhone and Google's Android phones and said the Veer will "not impact the sales of the big competitors." As such, the Veer will be a niche product that HP can expand on over time. "The marketplace is growing and there is room for more handsets," Kagan said.
In fact, AT&T and HP clearly recognize that the Veer is mainly for young users who want a cheaper, but still full-featured, device.
"Veer is introducing the smartphone experience to a new generation of users," said Stephanie Maes, vice president of smartphone products at the Palm unit inside of HP.
HP is also planning an HP Pre3 for sale sometime in the summer. The Pre3 is larger and offers business-class email.
AT&T calls the device 4G because it will run over HSPA+ networks with enhanced backhaul where available, giving performance above 3Mbps for downloads.
It will be sold as both black and white models and is exclusive in the U.S. to AT&T.
Veer has a 2.6-in., 320-by-400-megapixel touchscreen in addition to the slide-out keypad and supports Abobe Flash. The WebOS 2.1 version supports instant notifications that allow message and Facebook updates to be seen easily. Veer also functions as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five Wi-Fi devices for an added monthly cost.
Veer weighs 3.63 ounces, a full ounce or more below most smartphones. It measures 2.14 inches by 3.3 inches by .59 inches thick. It uses an 800MHz processor from Qualcomm and has 8GB of internal storage. Both its processor and storage are below the capabilities of many of today's fastest and most capacious smartphones that run $250 to $300.
It does, however, include a 5-megapixel camera with video capture abilities, putting it in line with more expensive smartphones.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.