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Cell Carriers: Messaging Is The Medium

New York — Messaging is top-of-mind among wireless carriers, as product announcements from AT&T and T-Mobile USA indicate.

AT&T announced four new QWERTY-keyboard-equipped phones, all based on the Windows Mobile smartphone operating system, a spokesman said. T-Mobile released the industry’s first BlackBerry flip phone, the Pearl Flip 8220.

The quadband EDGE-equipped Pearl Flip 8220, available exclusively from T-Mobile at $149 with two-year contract, features Research In Motion’s SureType keyboard, which combines a large dialing keypad and QWERTY keyboard in a vertical array. With the launch, T-Mobile is expanding its selection of Wi-Fi-equipped BlackBerry phones that access T-Mobile’s Unlimited HotSpot Calling service, which delivers voice calls over the Internet. Other models so equipped are the BlackBerry Curve 8320, BlackBerry Pearl 8120 and BlackBerry 8820.

Other Pearl Flip features include HTML browsing, access to social networking sites such as Facebook and Flickr, media player, syncing with a desktop PC’s iTunes applications, stereo Bluetooth, 2-megapixel camera/camcorder, included 256MB MicroSD card, support for a 16GB MicroSD/SDHC card and support for T-Mobile’s MyFaves service.

“The flip phone remains the vastly dominant and preferred design for mobile phones in the United States,” said T-Mobile USA product development VP Leslie Grandy.

At AT&T, the carrier unveiled a series of what it called “quick messaging mobile phones,” all with full QWERTY keyboards. They consist of two Pantech phones, one Samsung phone and one AT&T-branded phone. All feature quadband EDGE and all but the Slate add 850/1,900MHz 3.6Mbps high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), a spokesperson said.

Pantech’s Matrix, already available, retails for $79.99. The $79.99 Samsung Propel and $49.99 Pantech Slate are due later this month and AT&T’s $99.99 Quickfire arrives in November. All prices are with two-year contract and after $50 mail-in rebate, which takes the form of a gift card.

The new phones will appeal to users who frequently text message as well as to people who want to easily type search terms onto a Web page, the carrier said.

The dual-slider Pantech Matrix is available in navy blue and black with green and, beginning Oct. 16, in red. Features include a 1.3-megapixel camera, instant messaging, Mobile Email, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Video Share and over-the0air music downloading.

The HSDPA-equipped Samsung Propel is a square-shaped device with upward slider. It’s equipped with instant messaging, Mobile Email, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Video Share calling, a 1.3-megapixel camera and over-the-air music downloading. It’s due in late October in blue, green, red, and white with red.

The Pantech Slate, said to be theworld’s thinnest phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, is a bar-style phone that will retail for $49.99 with 1.3-megapixel camera, instant messaging and Mobile Email service. It’s due in black with royal blue in late October.

The $99 Quickfire slider, due in November, features a touchscreen and a horizontal QWERTY keyboard that slides out from one side. The touchscreen is used for dialing, accessing apps and inputting text. The screen displays messages in portrait or landscape mode. Other features include over-the-air music downloading. It will be available in November in orange, lime and silver.