AT&T validates RIM with $49.99 price tag on BlackBerry Torch 9810

Lost in the hubbub of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) is the fact that Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is rolling out a new lineup of BlackBerry devices to its carrier partners.

blackberry torch 9810 att

AT&T will sell the BlackBerry Torch 9810 for $49.99 with a contract.

RIM hopes the new crop of devices, including refreshed models of its Bold and Torch phones, will help tide over customers, shareholders and carriers until its QNX-based smartphones arrive next year. All of the new phones run RIM's BlackBerry 7 operating system, which sports improved browsing and graphics.

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is exclusively launching the BlackBerry Torch 9810 Aug. 21 for $49.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates--by far the most aggressive pricing among the Tier 1 carriers for the new BlackBerry models. AT&T launched the original Torch last year, and the 9810 model sports a 1.2 GHz processor, HSPA+ speeds, slide-out keyboard, 3.2-inch touchscreen display and 5-megapixel camera with 720p video recording capability.

Meanwhile, both Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) said they will each launch the Blackberry Bold 9930 Aug. 21 for $250 with a two-year contract. The Bold 9930 comes with a 1.2 GHz processor, 2.8-inch touchscreen, full Qwerty keyboard and 5-megapixel camera with 720p video recording capability. Sprint also said it will launch the BlackBerry Torch 9850, its first all-touch BlackBerry smartphone, for $149.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate. The Torch has similar specs to AT&T's version and is also a world phone.

The reviews of the new phones are coming in and they largely are positive, though tinged with disappointment that RIM couldn't do more. "The BlackBerry Bold 9930 feels like the beginning of a transition--the last hurrah for an OS that isn't much longer for this world," Tim Stevens of Engadget concluded. "Or maybe that's just us being optimistic. We'd love to have been able to use this phone with a more modern, more refined feeling OS, but as it is we have some great hardware running software that just won't appeal to anyone who has already left (or was never pulled in to) the BBM fold."

Jessica Dolcourt  of CNET said that "RIM's specs place it in the upper-middle range, but the company has still not succeeded in bringing forth a super premium phone to stand against rivals."

"There's still no dual-core processor, no front-facing camera, and no 4G support, although there is theoretically NFC support in OS 7," she wrote. "While we think that the Torch 9850 has much to recommend it, including an intriguing and actually successful full touch-screen design, at the end of the day, RIM has an uphill battle to win fans to its operating system amid Android dominance from a variety of tough device-making competitors. With a reasonable starting price point and an attractive design, though, the Torch 9850 represents one of RIM's better chances to expand its appeal beyond the RIM faithful."

For more:
- see this Engadget post
- see this Engadget review
- see this This is my next post
- see this CNET post

Related Articles:
RIM unveils new BlackBerry Bold, Torch models
RIM slashes 2,000 jobs, says COO to retire
RIM's new NFC-capable BlackBerry Bold heading to T-Mobile USA
RIM execs respond to criticism of BlackBerry strategy at shareholder meeting
RIM adds 1M EMEA BlackBerry subs, faces pressure on management plans
ComScore: Android, iOS stretch U.S. lead as BlackBerry falls again

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