After a lengthy 7-month wait, HP has finally (and very quietly) launched its Pre 3 smartphone in Europe. Customers can purchase the device for £299 (approx. $490), which comes SIM-free for use on any network, from the Palm Eurostore with shipping within 1-2 business days.

It’s unclear why HP decided to launch its new flagship smartphone so silently, without any celebration or fanfare, but it looks like it was well worth the wait for fans of the company’s webOS platform. The device has an impressive list of specifications, including a 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor — faster than any other device on the market, according to HP — and a price tag that makes this device all the more attractive. Here’s its full list of specifications:

HP Pre 3 Specifications:

  • HP webOS
  • Single-core Qualcomm MSM 8×55 processor at 1.4GHz
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • 3.58-inch multitouch WVGA display (480×800)
  • 2.52 x 4.37 x 0.63 (64 x 111 x 16 mm)
  • 5.5 oz (156 g)
  • 5 megapixel rear camera with auto-focus & LED flash
  • 720p HD video recording
  • Front-facing VGA camera
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • NFC
  • Built-in GPS
  • Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, compass
  • 1230 mAh battery

At just £299 with no commitment, the HP Pre 3 is significantly cheaper than the some of its most popular rivals, such as the iPhone 4 (£510), the Samsung Galaxy S II (around £475), and the HTC Desire HD (around £400).

European retailers Clove and Box are also offering the device from today, though it’s unlikely HP will sell out quickly considering its surprising lack of marketing. An official statement from HP, confirming the launch of the Pre 3, was issued to PreCentral, though it was barely 4 lines in length:

HP is excited to begin its regional rollout of Pre3, the only phone today that offers users a slide-out keyboard coupled with a large touchscreen and the fastest speed (1.4GHz processor – the fastest on the market). We expect to share additional information for U.S. customers soon.

Unfortunately, there’s no release date set for the U.S. just yet, but expect it to launch silently sometime soon.

Are you interested in HP’s latest webOS smartphone?

[via Engadget]