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AT&T Unveils Rugged,Business-Friendly NEC Terrain

Workers in rough and tumble environments such as construction or inventory management will soon have a new smartphone option. Today, AT&T and NEC  announced a new Android handset to be sold exclusively through the carrier's Business Solutions channel: the NEC Terrain. Equipped with 4G LTE and AT&T's Enhanced Push-to-Talk, the Terrain is designed with productivity and endurance in mind. Starting June 21, it looks like this "ultra-rugged" Android device for $99 (with a 2-year contract) will only be available to AT&T's enterprise, government, education and small business  customers.

Business users may appreciate the Terrain's Push-to-Talk functionality and real QWERTY keyboard,  a feature most Android phones lack. However, this device has its fair share of drawbacks, including an ancient Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and a tiny 3.1-inch, screen of undisclosed resolution. The Terrian sports a waterproof (for up to 30 minutes at up to 1 meter) and dust-proof design a 0.3-MP front-facing camera and a 5-MP standard shooter around back, a 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and 8GB of interal storage. According to the press release, the phone's rugged chassis meets military specifications (MIL-810G) for shock distribution. But if productivity is a concern, it's also what's on the inside that counts.

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There's little danger of NEC's Terrain displacing the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4, but this niche product could find a home in a number of vertical markets, provided that businesses are willing to forgive its 2011-era operating system.