Orange has revealed that the HTC Hero will be available from its high street shops as of 22 July. Orange Comms bod Conor Maples spread the news in a message on Twitter.

The news comes as a shock reversal of previous statements. Orange told one Pocket-lint reader, Mike, that "the handset has not passed the extensive testing that is completed before being released onto the Orange network", explaining that it'll be a "couple of weeks" before that finished.

The handset was originally due in "early July". T-Mobile will also be offering the handset, as the "G2 Touch", though that network hasn't yet announced availability, promising just "later this month". Amazon has the phone listed as being released on 15 August.

Perhaps Orange was swayed to release the phone early by Pocket-lint's glowing review for the handset, saying "We've waited a long time for a smartphone to be confident about challenging the iPhone as number one, and finally the HTC Hero arrives as a viable contender". Find a link to that below.

Stay tuned to Pocket-lint for information about availability on T-Mobile's network.