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. Full press release below.


Touchscreen device that runs on the Android 2.2 operating system is free after an $80 mail-in rebate

CHICAGO (December 7, 2010) – U.S. Cellular is rounding out its 2010 lineup of Android-powered phones with the Dec. 13 launch of the LG Optimus U, the ideal handset for first-time smartphone users ready to experience the power of Android 2.2 technology. Backed by the carrier’s high-speed network, LG Optimus U will be available in U.S. Cellular stores and at uscellular.com for free after an $80 mail-in rebate. LG Optimus U is also supported by all the benefits of The Belief Project, which include industry-first innovations like “no contract after the first.”

“The LG Optimus U is a good fit for first-time smartphone customers who are looking to explore a wide range of games, multimedia entertainment and time-saving Android applications,” said Edward Perez, vice president of marketing and sales operations for U.S. Cellular. “Customers with one of our Belief Plans who are eligible for a phone upgrade can pick up an LG Optimus U at our promotional price without signing a new contract.”

New customers who sign up for a Belief Plan and fulfill an initial two-year commitment will never have to sign another one with U.S. Cellular’s “no contract after the first.” Customers automatically get valuable rewards that can be used for faster phone upgrades in as little as 10 months, additional lines, phones, accessories and ringtones.

About LG Optimus U
LG Optimus U from U.S. Cellular sports a sleek 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen and virtual QWERTY keyboard with Swype technology that allows users to input text quickly by sliding a finger over the keyboard in one continuous motion. The five home screens provide easy access to customers’ favorite applications and create a truly customizable user experience.

In addition to the popular Google applications like Google Maps, Google Talk and Gmail, that are pre-loaded on the LG Optimus U, U.S. Cellular customers can also tap into Your Navigator Deluxe for voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, get ringtones from Tone Room Deluxe and store all their contacts on a secure Web site with My Contacts Backup.

The LG Optimus U is equipped with a 2GB microSD card and offers a up to 32GB of memory via an external memory card for customers who want to watch videos or listen to music while on-the-go. Featuring a 3.2 megapixel camcorder with autofocus and zoom, LG Optimus U also provides a 3.5mm headphone jack and Wi-Fi support for up to five devices through built-in portable hotspot capabilities.

About U.S. Cellular Android Devices
The LG Optimus U joins five other high-performance devices from U.S. Cellular that run Android, including the LG Apex, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Mesmerize (a Galaxy S smartphone) and Acclaim, and HTC Desire. The carrier’s extensive catalog of Android-powered, BlackBerry and Windows phones is a key part of its strategy to deliver cutting-edge devices while elevating the customer experience through the industry-leading initiatives of The Belief Project, which it launched in October.

U.S. Cellular’s new bundled National Single Line and Family Belief Plans offer affordable voice, text and data packages. Customers who text, e-mail and download more than they talk may prefer the new Primary Plus Plan for $69.99 per month that comes with 5GB of data, unlimited text, picture and video messaging, free GPS navigation and free unlimited incoming calls, nights and weekends, and mobile-to-mobile calls. Customers also can opt for the Premium Plus Family Plan for $179.99, which includes two lines with unlimited minutes and messaging, 5GB of data per line, Phone Replacement and GPS navigation.