We had known that Orange UK was going to be a carrier for the HTC Hero a month ago, now we know the cost of the HTC Hero on Orange: FREE. Of course a qualifying rate plan is necessary in order to receive the HTC Hero for free (new customer, 2 year contract, £40 a month plan should do the trick). We've always been intrigued on how carriers do business outside of the US, if their business includes free phones, boy sign us up!

What's most interesting is that Orange UK suggests more Android Phones for 2009 in the Orange pipeline. They were previously reported to release 6 Android Phones this year so getting 1 out of the way will surely help the cause. The HTC Hero should hit Orange UK in July.

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full press release after the jump

Orange UK introduces first Android handset to its device portfolio with the introduction of the HTC ‘Hero’

Orange to exclusively retail the HTC Hero in ‘Graphite’, offering it free on selected pay monthly contracts from early July The HTC Hero is the first of several Android handsets Orange will range in 2009

Orange today announced it will be launching the much anticipated HTC Hero, the first Android device to be ranged by Orange in the UK. Available from early July across all Orange retail channels, the HTC Hero will be available for free on select price plans and will be exclusive to Orange in ‘Graphite’ colour.

Offering a rich, intuitive browsing touch interface and premium design, the 3G+ enabled Hero features Google’s Android operating system, the world’s first ‘open-source’ operating system formobile devices. Android allows users unrestricted access to thousands of amazing tools and applications which can be downloaded straight to the handset – helping enhance the device’s capabilities.

Created for those wanting an optimised mobile customer experience, with easy access to Google’s most popular services, the Hero also provides users with a choice of seven specially designed unique user interface options. The handset also comes with an integrated five mega-pixel, auto-focus camera featuring camcorder capability, a gravity sensor, AGPS and 512 MB of memory with space for a 16Gb MicroSD card. What’s more, the 3.2 inch HVGA display features anti-fingerprint screen coating for improved smudge resistance and a longer lasting, clearer display.

Orange is offering the HTC Hero for free to customers who take out a £39.15 per month, 24 month contract. The package includes 1200 any network call minutes, unlimited texts, as well as inclusive anytime internet browsing so users can make the most out of their mobile experience.

Francois Mahieu, Director of Devices, Orange UK said, “We’re really pleased to be launching our first Android handset in conjunction with HTC. The first of several Android devices you can expect from us this year, we believe the Hero is a great all round device which will allow consumers to get to grips with all the things they love about the internet, whilst on the move. We expect it to be extremely popular when it hits shelves this summer.”
The HTC Hero is exclusive to Orange in ‘Graphite’ and will be available from Orange shops and www.orange.co.uk/shop in early July.