Hot on the heels of launching its third Android smartphone, HTC is forecasting its US handset sales to grow by at least 50 per cent this year.

With the arrival of the Hero, the Taiwanese phone maker is establishing itself as the leading manufacturer of the Linux-based devices.

The release of the Hero follows the G1 and the myTouch3G.

Jason Mackenzie, vice president of sales and marketing for HTC America, said this would help the company drive sales despite a smarphone market packed with rivals.

Apple, Palm and Research In Motion have all recently launched new handsets – and other major mobile makers are expected to release Android phones this year.

Mackenzie said HTC’s forecast sales growth would represent sales of around 6 million phones in the US this year.

"Competitively we feel very good," he said.

AT&T Mobility is seen as the carrier that will offer the Hero in the US this fall.

It will be available on T-Mobile and Orange in Europe in July and in Asia by late summer.

Similar in appearance to the G1, the Hero has an updated profile – no physical keyboard – and is based on a 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7200A processor.

It also has two of the highly-in-demand features – a 3.5mm headphone jack and the multi-touch and fingerprint-proof 3.2" HVGA touch display (320 x 480).

Other features include:

  • a 3.2-inch capacitive touch screen
  • 288 MB RAM
  • quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
  • 7.2 Mbps HSPA/WCDMA radios
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • GPS
  • digital compass
  • gravity sensor
  • 5 megapixel camera
  • MicroSD slot

HTC has also layered its own UI – known as Sense – over and above the Google-backed Android.

This enables addition of gesture controls, widget support, and quick-launch icons for use in web-specific applications like e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Hero also supports Adobe’s Flash technology.

While HTC’s Sense UI will be available on its non-Google branded Android devices, licensing terms prevent it being on any phone that’s got the "with Google" branding.

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