It’s something I never thought I’d see. When browsing the BlackBerry listings on AT&T’s website I clicked around and clicked around, because it didn’t seem right. There is no standard-issue BlackBerry available for sale. There is no Bold 9000, no Bold 9700, no Bold 9780. It seems unfathomable that AT&T, the carrier that used to get all the new BlackBerry models before every other carrier, doesn’t have a standard issue one available on its website. Worst of all, they haven’t announced a release date for the Bold 9900, and prevailing rumors peg a release date in the October-November range. Even stranger, the BlackBerry models that AT&T does offer, it offers cheaply. There isn’t anything over $50 on a two-year contract. This is at odds with other carriers. Verizon, for instance, offers the Bold 9930 for $250, which is more expensive than a typical smartphone. That at least makes the AT&T BlackBerry lineup a bit more intriguing. Let’s take a look at what they’re offering. BlackBerry Torch While AT&T does not have a flagship BlackBerry device, it does have one of RIM’s more hyped models. Last year they held a big event in New York to announce the BlackBerry Torch, a touchscreen slider device that was supposed to make business more fun. That is, it combined the fun of a touchscreen device with the BlackBerry keyboard that has become an essential for heavy emailers. They have the original Torch available for just $50, which is down considerably from the original retail price. That’s going to happen when a device has been around for a year. More recently the Torch got an update. Not long ago we reviewed the BlackBerry Torch 9810 for AT&T. It might look nearly identical to its predecessor, but it has a ton more features under the hook. For a full look, make sure to read the review. Here’s the oddity, though: AT&T is offering the Torch 9810 for $50, same as the Torch 9800. The only difference is that you can get the old Torch in red, whereas you can only get the new one in white and gray. I’m sure this pricing issue will solve itself soon enough. After all, AT&T sells it other BlackBerry models for even cheaper than that. BlackBerry Pearl 3G One thing that I will never understand is why the Pearl 3G failed so greatly. People loved the original Pearl. In fact, there was a time when I knew more people who owned Pearls than flagship BlackBerry devices. It was small but still usable, with SureType providing an ample fill-in for the full-sized keyboard. The big drawback, though, was that the Pearl only ran on EDGE networks. That meant ploddingly slow internet speeds, which is always going to turn off potential customers. The new Pearl brought it all. It was sleeker, had better screen resolution, had more memory, and ran on AT&T’s 3G network. Yet it took AT&T a long time to pick up the device. Maybe, as with the Bold 9000, it was a software issue. But given the lack of hype around the device and the low price point, it might have been an issue of demand. Which, again, doesn’t make much sense. If people loved the original, wouldn’t they love a better, faster update? The good news is that if you did love the Pearl and want the newest version — which runs BlackBerry 6, you can get it at AT&T for just $20 with a two-year contract. It’s hard to find a better deal than that. And yet… BlackBerry Curve 3G The Curve at one time was BlackBerry’s “cool” phone. It brought the BlackBerry experience to a smaller, sleeker, more feature-rich phone. It was the first full-sized BlackBerry to contain a camera. But at the same time it suffered from the same EDGE issues as the Pearl. It just didn’t measure up to the 3G devices. Even the 8500 didn’t measure up. It was basically a stripped down Bold, without 3G. But the newest Curve changed that. RIM brought the same basic specs to the Curve 3G, but with two notable differences. First, it contained more memory, which allowed it to run BlackBerry OS 6. Second, it added a 3G radio, which allowed it to stay apace with all the other new smartphones hitting the market. Yet it still had a too little, too late feeling to it. the Curve 3G apparently didn’t sell well at all with AT&T — when they finally decided to pick it up. It’s the closest thing to the flagship BlackBerry available on AT&T, and it’s set at the lowest price. They’re selling them for just a penny with a two-year agreement. If you have an upgrade coming and want a smartphone, but want to do so on a budget, you can grab this one essentially for free, and use the $15 per month data plan. Combine that with $20 unlimited messaging plan and the $40 monthly service plan and you get a two-year ownership cost of $1,800. You’re not going to find many more deals like that for a smartphone.
A look at AT&T’s BlackBerry lineup
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