HP Veer 4G, a $99 AT&T Exclusive, Launches May 15

The HP Veer 4G, Hewlett Packard’s first handset since it acquired Palm, will launch on May 15 in the U.S. as an AT&T exclusive. Customers can purchase the small device for $99 with a two-year contract in white or black from AT&T retail stores or the carrier’s website. The smartphone is the first of many expected handsets and tablets that will run an improved version of the webOS platform and can be used as a 4G mobile hotspot, although that feature requires the DataPro 4GB plan from AT&T.

Aside from being a phone from traditional computer-maker HP (s hpq), the other unique quality is the size of the Veer 4G, which bucks the trend of devices with larger screens. A small 2.6-inch multitouch display with 320×400 resolution takes the entire front face of phone, and the screen slides up to reveal a QWERTY hardware keyboard. Other notable specifications and features include:

  • 800 MHz processor built by Qualcomm (s qcom)
  • 8 GB of internal memory storage
  • HSDPA Cat 10/HSUPA Cat 6 radio for theoretical 14.4 Mbps downloads
  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR and wireless stereo support, aGPS
  • 5 megapixel camera with extended depth of field, geotagging and video capture
  • 910 mAh non-removable battery rated at 5 hours talk time, 300 of standby

New hardware is always nice, but the software is equally as important, if not more so. The HP Veer 4G will run the most current version of webOS, which HP has been improving since buying Palm last year for $1.2 billion. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the speed of the CPU either as the webOS software has always run fairly well on meager hardware. Also updated over time is the webOS app store, which can be used to purchase software for the handset with support for direct AT&T (s t) billing.

The small size of the Veer 4G may underwhelm some, but it’s only the first of the new webOS handsets that will be launching this year. And along with the┬ádiminutive┬ásize, which some will actually see as positive, the up-front cost is priced to match this small but capable smartphone. In fact, this little handset may be the perfect complement to the larger HP TouchPad, a 9.7-inch tablet that runs on the same platform: WebOS handsets can interact with the TouchPad through HP’s Touchstone wireless technology. You can start browsing, for example, on the Veer 4G and continue viewing the same website on the TouchPad by tapping the two devices together.