Dallas – BlackBerry’s Classic and Passport smartphones will finally be available through a U.S. carrier on Feb. 20 when AT&T offers the devices through AT&T retail stores and its web site.
The Passport is exclusive to AT&T, which also becomes the first carrier to offer the Classic.
Both 4G LTE phones, which are key to the company’s smartphone turnaround, will also be available to indirect retailers under AT&T’s dealer program, a spokesperson said.
The productivity-focused square-screen Passport, promoted as a PC substitute for businesspeople on the go, was unveiled last September. It became available through www.ShopBlackBerry.com and Amazon as unlocked models with no contract. BlackBerry is currently retailing the device for $499, with a limited-edition red model at $599.
The Classic combines the traditional QWERTY keyboard of the old BlackBerry Bold and Curve with a touchscreen and latest 10.3.1 OS. It became available in December at Amazon and ShopBlackBerry.com as unlocked models without contract. BlackBerry retails it at $449 unlocked. It also became available through Ingram Micro Mobility for resellers who target the enterprise market.
Through AT&T, the Passport will be priced without contract at $649 or, with two-year contract, at $199. Without contract, it can be purchased under an AT&T Next installment-payment/upgrade plan at $0 down at $21.67 per month for 30 months with AT&T Next 24, $27.09 for 24 months with AT&T Next 18, or $32.50 for 20 months with AT&T Next 12.
With the plans, users can upgrade their phone after 24, 18 and 12 months, respectively.
The Classic retails for $419 without contract and $49 with two-year contract. It can be purchased under the Next installment-payment plans with $0 down at $14 per month with AT&T Next 24, $17.50 per month with Next 18, or $21 per month with AT&T Next 12.
The Classic is positioned as a productivity-first smartphone that combines the latest BlackBerry touchscreen 10.3.1 OS with a 3.5-inch touchscreen and the old BlackBerry Bold’s optical track pad, dedicated answer/hang-up buttons, and physical QWERTY keyboard, menu and back buttons. The physical user interface enables one-handed typing and phone calling, the company said.
Although it looks a lot like the old Bold, the Classic offers a 3x faster browser, 60 percent larger touchscreen at 3.5 inches, 50 percent longer battery life at up to 22 hours, and access not only to BlackBerry World for apps but also to the Amazon Appstore.
The Passport phone with 4.5-inch Full HD square touch screen and touch-enabled QWERTY keyboard is targeted to the 30 percent of mobile users who are most concerned about productivity and want a physical keyboard and long battery life, the company said.
The 1440x1440 HD screen displays 60 characters per line for easier document editing and reading without zooming, which would reduce the number of characters displayed at one time. The touch-enabled physical QWERTY keyboard lets users edit without a pop-up virtual keyboard covering up on-screen text, and the keyboard’s capacitive touch capability lets users swipe the keyboard to scroll through content and highlight text for editing. Touching and swiping the keyboard also brings up and moves a cursor.