updated 09:10 am EDT, Wed March 23, 2011
HTC Merge for Alltel up for pre-order March 28
Alltel confirmed it would become the first carrier to use the HTC Merge and has given out its first launch details. Pre-orders should start March 28 for the Android slider, which will ship for $125 on a contract. Alltel hasn't said whether the phone will come customized for the network.
The Merge is HTC's first dual-mode Android phone and works on both Alltel's CDMA as well as GSM for world roaming. HTC is targeting the new mid-range and gives it a second-generation 800MHz Snapdragon along with a 3.8-inch touchscreen and a five-megapixel, 720p-cpable camera. It still runs Android 2.2 and a matching version of Sense.
A version is still rumored to be showing at Verizon, though when this would be isn't certain.
We tried the Merge at CTIA on Tuesday and came away with mixed impressions. The processor keeps it moving quickly, and we like way the phone feels in the hands. Although we like stock Android the most, HTC's Sense is our preferred custom interface layer, since it's both intuitive and keeps the phone running smoothly.
What we didn't like was the keyboard, which is a problem for a phone where physical touch is important. The keys are spaced sufficiently apart, but they have little feedback and didn't feel good for sustained typing through their very flat surfaces. While mistakes were few, we felt like we had to double-check because of the lack of feel. The touchscreen keyboard is good, however, and could be worth it for those who don't need the hardware keyboard often.