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Orange introduces cheap Facebook phones in Europe, Africa

The operator wants to bring mobile services such as Facebook to a wide range of users

Orange launched three Alcatel One Touch phones on Wednesday with dedicated Facebook buttons priced below €100 (US$135).

The new phones are the Alcatel One Touch 585F, 813F and 908F. The latter smartphone is an Orange exclusive, and will be one of the most affordable Android smartphones available, the operator said without giving a more detailed price than "below €100."

The 908F will have a 2.8-inch screen, an FM radio and A-GPS. The smartphone uses version 2.2 of Android and is powered by a 600MHz Qualcomm processor. Users can access the Internet with HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) or Wi-Fi.

The 585F and 813F both have QWERTY keyboards and Opera's Mini browser preinstalled. They will cost about €40 and €60, respectively.

Using the phones, Facebook addicts will be able to post and tag photos, comment on a friend's wall and sync Facebook friends to their address book.

Orange's goal is provide access to mobile services such as Facebook to the widest possible range of customers. The new phones also integrate Twitter. At a more affordable prices, and with bundles and tariffs to match, the phones will make "mobile Facebook access richer and more widely available for the first time for some customers," it said in a statement.

The integration of Facebook on low-cost phones has recently become trendy. Nokia launched three feature phones with Facebook integration last month. MediaTek, a designer of software and chipsets for low-end phones, is also getting on board and will put Facebook on feature phones that will cost below US$50 before subsidies, it said last week.

The Alcatel phones will be available in Poland and Romania by the end of this year. The devices will become available next year in Armenia, Botswana, Cameroon, France, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Moldova, Niger, Reunion, Senegal, Spain, Tunisia and Uganda.

Orange said the exact launch dates will be announced in those countries at a later date, as well as more countries where the devices will be offered.

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