While free Android phones are nothing new, it's a rare day when we see the gift coming directly from the carrier itself, especially on the device's launch day. However, that's exactly what US Cellular is doing with the Optimus U - come December 13th, the carrier will be touting the latest entry in the Optimus One series of phones for exactly $0.00 after an $80 mail-in-rebate and on a new two-year contract. Its specs are more or less the same as its Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile-bound brethren:

  • Android 2.2 with Swype pre-installed
  • WiFi connectivity
  • 3.2-inch HVGA (320x480) display
  • 3.2 MP camera
  • 2GB microSD card out of the box with support for cards of up to 32GB in capacity

US Cellular's coverage isn't exactly the best in the industry, and the Optimus One phones are hardly the cream of the crop, but you've got to give the Optimus U this: it's free, it isn't a year old, and it has Froyo's mobile hotspot capabilities built-in.

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