We’ve gotten word from inside HP that the company is set to release an inexpensive Android smartphone aimed at the prepaid and emerging (BRIC) markets. We’re hearing the street price will be around $200 and it will be released in more than one market. Our source has pegged the launch at next week but delays can’t be ruled out at this point (and we’ve yet to hear anything publicly). Nokia Meego defector and new HP SVP Mobility  Alberto Torres is said to be heading up the group which has been working on the product for a year and a half.

We’re hearing that the device resembles the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note with obvious cost cutting measures to get the device down to the $200 price point. With HP’s Slate Android products, the company cut costs by using low pixel density displays so having a 720P display would seem about right and put it on a collision course with Samsung’s Galaxy Mega line with its 6.3-inch display and current street price of around $400.

HP CEO Meg Whitman last year confirmed the company was building a smartphone on the trail of dumping its WebOS ‘detour’.

“So a smartphone is not if, but when, for Hewlett-Packard?” – Whitman replied:  “[HP has] to ultimately offer a smartphone, because in many countries in the world that is your first computing device. You know, there will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet or a PC or desktop. They will do everything on the smartphone. We’re a computing company, we have to take advantage of that form factor.”

Computerworld UK reported that she indicated it wouldn’t be in 2013.

“We don’t have any plans to introduce a smartphone in 2013, but we’ve got to start thinking about what is our unique play, how do we capture this element of the personal computing market?” Whitman said.

HP has to offer every kind of device, from workstations through all-in-one PCs, laptops, hybrid PCs, tablets “and, ultimately, smartphones,” she said.

“I believe that five years from now, if we don’t have a smartphone or whatever the next generation of that device is, we’ll be locked out of a huge segment of the population in many countries of the world,” she said.

Whitman’s quote didn’t stop The Information from reporting last year that HP was on track to launch a smartphone between 6-7 inches small with a similar price point by the end of 2013. While the date didn’t pan out, some of the specs line up with what we’ve heard.

The Galaxy Note 3 that HP’s product is being compared to is 5.5 inches so we’d wager the screen is closer to 6-inches.

The timing might coincide with recent news that Samsung would be launching a slightly smaller/cheaper version of the Note called the Neo/Lite (pictured below left next to the Note 3).


We’d expect an announcement/keynote of some sort but perhaps HP will be low key if we are indeed only a week away. HP did not yet respond for a request for comment but we’ll update if they do.