Ally, first LG Android smartphone, hits Verizon online sales Thursday

Will be competitor to Microsoft's Kin Two phone

The new LG Ally, the first Android smartphone from LG Electronics, will be available for preorder online Thursday from Verizon Wireless for $100 after rebate plus a two-year contract.

The slider device -- which has tie-ins to the Iron Man 2 superhero film -- has a 3.2-in. touch screen and a physical QWERTY keyboard that works simultaneously with the touch screen. It goes on sale in Verizon stores May 20, the carrier said in a statement.

LG Ally
The Ally, the first Android smartphone from LG Electronics, is available from Verizon Wireless for $100 after a rebate and with a two-year contract.

The Ally looks similar to the Kin Two slider phone from Microsoft Corp. and Sharp Electronics, which also goes on sale in Verizon stores Thursday. While the Ally has full smartphone capabilities, including downloadable apps, the Kin One and Kin Two have been criticized for lacking smartphone capabilities even though Verizon is charging a minimum $70 monthly service fee, including $30 for data, for the Kin devices, which is the same monthly fee it charges for the Ally smartphone.

Verizon sells dozens of models of smartphones and mobile phones, and like all carriers it tries to offer a diverse selection of products across form factors and operating systems.

Verizon described the Ally as a fully capable smartphone with access to 38,000 downloadable apps from the Android Market. The device has a microSD slot for up to 16GB of memory that can be used to store video captured with the Ally's 3.2-megapixel camera/camcorder, which features autofocus and flash. The device is 4.56 by 2.22 by 0.6 in. and weighs 5.57 oz.

The carrier highlighted several features of the Ally's camera, including the fact that it has five camera resolutions and three video resolutions and includes a 4x zoom, a macro mode for close-up pictures, a panorama setting for up to three sequential shots, scene mode for various settings, and an image editor that zooms, rotates, resizes, crops and more.

Other features include turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps, access to social networks, five customizable home screens and a one-touch speaker phone. Ally supports Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi and 3G cellular.

The Ally's Qualcomm MSM7627 processor runs at 600MHz, and the device is loaded with the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, Android 2.1.

Apps related to the Iron Man 2 movie and other information about Ally are available at an LG Iron Man 2 Web site. One of the featured apps, called Wikitude, is described as a "futuristic fusion of Wikipedia and augmented reality that overlays location information right in the viewfinder. "

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 mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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