DALLAS (

TheStreet

) --

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

, entering what could be a challenging few months, just announced its first smartphone powered by

Google's

(GOOG) - Get Report

Android operating system.

On March 7, AT&T will start selling

Motorola's

(MOT)

new

Backflip phone

. The smartphone, Motorola's fifth Android device, features a keyboard and touchscreen as well as

a touch panel located behind the screen

.

AT&T

first announced its Android plans

at the CES show earlier this year, and will also start offering Android phones from

DELL

(DELL) - Get Report

and

HTC

during the first half of this year.

The telecom giant, which also has clinched a deal to sell

PALM's

(PALM)

Pre and Pixi phones

, is beefing up its stable of products in what looks to be a crucial year for the company.

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There has been a great deal of interest in AT&T during recent months, thanks to the rapidly shifting dynamics of the telecom market. In addition to

heightened competition

from

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

, AT&T's exclusive deal with

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

to sell the

iPhone

has been said to

end this year

, although the Dallas telco has refused to discuss this.

AT&T recently announced that Apple's eagerly-anticipated

iPad

will be available on its 3G network in the spring

.

AT&T

beat Wall Street's estimates in its recent fourth-quarter results

, boosted by new wireless subscribers. The company's shares dipped 2 cents, or 0.08%, to $25.38 in pre-market trading Thursday.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

RELATED STORIES

>>Apple's iPad Boosts AT&T

>>AT&T Finds Android Religion

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