Droid phones countdown draws to a close

Amid speculation that three Droid phones could touch down before the end of the year, Verizon on Wednesday unveiled the first of the Google-powered line.

The Motorola Droid, powered by Google Android and Verizon Wireless, hits shelves Nov. 6.

After weeks of sweaty palms and a whole of lot of buzz, Verizon Wireless today officially took the wraps off the Droid, a smartphone built by Motorola and powered by Google's Android 2.0 operating system. In a call with reporters, John Stratton, Verizon's chief marketing officer, said the price of the Droid will come in at $199, with a two-year contract and a mail-in rebate. The Droid phones will hit shelves on Nov. 6.

As we reported yesterday, speculation is rife that Verizon is planning on rolling out three Droid phones by the end of the year. One of the Droids would reportedly be manufactured by HTC, while the second, code-named Calgary, would pair the Android operating system with BLUR capability. In the press conference, Stratton appeared to confirm those rumors. "The partnership between Verizon and Google will be a multiyear partnership … under the Droid franchise," he said, according to PC Magazine.

Verizon is positioning the first Droid as an iPhone killer – a handset that could surpass Apple's best-selling smartphone. In recent weeks, the company has saturated airwaves with a commercial that targets iPhone's flaws. “iDon’t have a real keyboard. iDon’t run simultaneous apps. iDon’t take night shots. iDon’t allow open development,” reads anti-Apple copy posted on the Droid website. “iDon’t customize. iDon’t run widgets. iDon’t have interchangeable batteries. Everything iDon’t, Droid does.”

The Droid, seen in the photo at right, comes equipped with a 3.7-inch touch screen, which slides open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. Among the other big draws is video recording, which Motorola says is "DVD-quality," a 5-megapixel camera, and Wi-Fi capability. “The Droid, even in its non-final form, is the most impressive phone we’ve used since the iPhone,” the tech blogger Boy Genius wrote this month. “It’s positively amazing.”

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