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Carriers Target Multiple Cellular Niches In Q4

10/21/2009 02:34:05 PM Eastern

New York - New cellphones livening up fourth-quarter competition include a restyled BlackBerry Bold for T-Mobile and AT&T, a new Pantech quick-messaging phone for AT&T and phones for senior citizens from MVNO Consumer Cellular.

BlackberryRIM's new BlackBerry Bold 9700 worldphone, which operates internationally in 3G HSDPA networks, will be available in coming weeks from both AT&T and T-Mobile. For T-Mobile, the Bold is the carrier's first 3G BlackBerry, and its RIM's first BlackBerry to support the carrier's residential Wi-Fi VoIP service. That service encourages consumers to use a cellphone as a home's primary phone because consumers don't have to worry about using up cellular voice minutes or potential in-door cellular-signal loss.

From T-Mobile, the price will be $199 with a two-year contract. From AT&T, the Bold 9700 will be priced at $199 after $100 mail-in-rebate and the purchase of a monthly data plan.

AT&T was the only carrier offering the previous version of the BlackBerry Bold, the 9000, which was operated internationally in 3G mode. Like before, the new Bold will offer AT&T's video share feature, enabling users to transmit live video while on a voice call.

The restyled Bold, which features hard QWERTY keyboard and no touchscreen, is smaller at 4.29 inches by 2.36 inches by 0.56 inches, compared with 4.48 inches by 2.6 inches by 0.59 inches, and lighter at 4.3 ounces vs. 4.8 ounces. It replaces its predecessor's trackball with a touch-sensitive trackpad for easier navigation. New cosmetics include a dark chrome frame, leatherette back, soft-touch sides, and sculpted keyboard with chrome frets for faster typing.

The new model also adds BlackBerry OS v5.0, which supports BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0, making it possible for users to add follow-up flags to e-mails, manage Microsoft Exchange mail folders, forward appointments, and view  calendar attachments.

Like its predecessor, the Bold 9700 features 3G HSDPA, 624MHz processor, built-in GPS, camera, Wi-Fi, MicroSD/HDSC slot, and included document viewing and editing software. The new model ups the camera/camcorder's resolution to 3.2 megapixels from 2.0.

Other features are included 2GB memory card, 2.44-inch light-sensing 480 by 360 display, BlackBerry OS 5.0 and audio/video player.

For its launch, Pantech began offering its 3G Reveal slider, a double-keyboard quick-messaging phone, through AT&T. The price is $79.99 after a two-year contract and a mail-in $50 promotion card rebate. It's available at carrier stores and online.

AT&T's latest double-keyboard phone features a front-panel numeric keypad that slides up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard below. Both sets of keys remain active when exposed so that users get quick simultaneous access to numbers and letters. Reveal is one of the first phones preloaded with AT&T's new HTML mobile browser and att.net home page. Other features include music and video playback, access to AT&T's music and video services, and AT&T Navigator navigation.

For older consumers, MVNO Consumer Cellular of Portland, Ore., unveiled its latest two phones. Both are sold with Consumer Cellular service, which unlike other elderly-targeted phones is available with postpaid rather than prepaid service. No contract is required.

Consumer Cellular's Doro PhoneEasy bar-style 345 and clamshell 410 are available at $40 and $50, respectively, with $35 activation fee. The GSM phones, made by Sweden-based Doro, feature large contoured buttons, large-text display, a loud vibrating ringer and soft-touch surfaces for a better grip. They also feature speakerphone, SMS text, FM radio, calculator and games, which can be turned off to simplify the menu. The 345 adds LED flashlight. The phones join models from Motorola and Nokia.

The MVNO's cellphones and plans are sold through direct mail, direct-response ads, toll-free number, the company's Web site, and 63 Sears stores in Oregon, Washington, California and Hawaii. The MVNO, founded in 1995, is also the AARP's exclusive wireless provider for members.

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