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Dell’s attempt to squeeze between iPhone and iPad

If the iPad is too big and an iPod or iPhone is too small, you might be a Dell Mini 5 candidate.

(Dell Mini 5 compared to iPhone. Source:

According to Engadget, the Android-powered Mini 5 just showed up in the FCC database with the WCDMA Band IV radios.  Those radios only are used on one US network: T-Mobile’s (DT).

The Mini 5 is just a bit bigger than a big smartphone (HTC’s Evo will be 4.3 inches vs. the Mini’s 5 inches) but is being marketed more like a mini tablet — but one with significantly more screen size than the market leading iPod touch from Apple (AAPL). It is powered by the same Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon processor that powers HTC’s latest Android phones as well.  Unfortunately for Dell, it’s been only show running an older version of the Android OS, version 1.6 (vs. 2.1 on the latest Android phones).

Perhaps most importantly however, the Mini 5 will launch with a big content partnership from Amazon (AAPL) which will provide the device with music, Video-on-Demand, eBooks and anything else Amazon sells.

The questions that remain are: When will this device be sold and for how much?

  • Dell (DELL) could sell this through the carriers (T-Mobile in this case)  like most phones and some Netbooks are sold
  • Google (GOOG) could sell it ad-hoc like it sells the Nexus One (also on T-Mobile) on its website?
  • Dell could sell this like Apple sells the iPad — With specialized unlocked data-only plans (though the Mini 5 can make phone calls)
  • Dell could just sell this outright on and let customers find their own SIM / plan options.
  • Any combination of the above.

The device itself is probably going to cost south of $500 (if it wants to have any chance vs. the iPad and iPod touch) and any carrier deals will just bring that down further.

The Mini 5 is a big deal for Dell, which is coming to the US with its first Android devices and first portable devices since it killed the Axiom and Dell DJ lines years ago. Dell also sells a smaller Mini 3 in Brazil and China.

The Dell Mini’ 5’s size might be a good differentiator vs. Apple and HP which both make significantly smaller phones and larger tablets.

Speaking of larger tablets, Dell is slated to have a 7-inch version of its Mini Tablet at the end of the year and a 10-inch variety at the beginning of 2011.

[Follow Seth Weintraub on Twitter @llsethj]