Dell has officially entered the booming smartphone market, with its Dell Mini 3 running a version of Google Android operating system.

In a surprising move Dell said today that it will sell its first-ever smartphone in Brazil and China, which should land on shelves as soon as the end of this month.

The device, called the Mini 3, will run on the Open Mobile System, a version of the Android operating system developed by China Mobile. Dell didn't release pricing or further technical details on the phone.

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The device is expected to be released on the China Mobile network by late November. Following the release on the China Mobile network, the Dell Mini 3 will be released on Brazil's leading wireless network Claro before the end of the year.

Dell 3 Mini smartphone

Rumours have circulated for months that Dell - traditionally a desktop and laptop PC manufacturer - would step into the crowded smartphone area. Dell said its move into smartphones was a "logical extension" of its consumer product strategy.

While the Dell Mini 3 has not yet been announced for a US or European release, Dell does carry agreements with Vodafone in Europe and AT&T and Verizon in the US market.

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There has been a wave of Android-based device announcements recently with Verizon touting its latest IPhone killer the Motorola Droid. However AT&T has yet to announce an Android based device on its network but a recent Dell Mini 3 FCC application hints to the possibility of a release on the ATT network.

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Dell has been light on the details of the Dell Mini 3 specifications but did mention it offers a 3.5 in high definition touch screen. The initial release in China will not have Wi-Fi as China is not yet a Wi-Fi friendly market, however it can be expected that Wi-Fi functionality will be included in later releases of the device.

By launching in Brazil and China first, Dell clearly has its eye on developing markets. Dell will partner with China Mobile, the world's largest carrier by number of subscribers at more than 500 million. The Mini 3 should be available there by the end of the month.

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Earlier this year Dell was the first mobile PC manufacturer to embed China Mobile's 3G technology and services into its netbooks and claims to be the leading seller of netbooks through retail outlets in China.

In Brazil, Dell is partnering with Claro, where the device should debut by the end of the year. Claro has about 42 million subscribers.

"Our entry into the smart phone category is a logical extension of Dell's consumer product evolution over the past two years," said Ron Garriques, President, Dell Global Consumer Group.

"We are developing smaller and smarter mobile products that enable our customers to take their internet experience out of the home and do the things they want to do whenever and wherever they want."

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"This signals an important milestone in the long term partnership between China Mobile and Dell," said a China Mobile spokesperson.

"We are excited for Dell to be among the first manufacturers to introduce new technology based on the OPhone platform. We look forward to working with Dell as it brings innovative new products and services to add value to our customers' lives."

"As a leading innovation company in Brazil, Claro is proud of being the first wireless carrier in the world offering the 3G version of Dell's smart phone. This confirms the Brazilian market strength and Claro as a leading actor in introducing new technology products and services to the country", said João Cox, president for Claro.

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