AT&T, Sprint launch cheaper, stylish phones

Affordability is a big theme of AT&T's Quick Messaging Devices

Spring must be here, because the wireless carriers are launching new phones with a focus on style, quick connections and lower costs.

AT&T today announced four of its Quick Messaging Devices designed to bring "smartphone-like experiences to a wider range of powerful, yet affordable, devices designed for mass market," the carrier said.

The four AT&T devices are the Samsung Strive, Samsung Sunburst, Pantech Link and Pantech Pursuit.

Meanwhile, Sprint Nextel today announced the Motorola i890, a flip phone, for the Nextel Direct Connect network for $130 after rebate and a two-year agreement.

Nextel Direct Connect has become a favorite of service workers, road warriers and blue-collar workers for allowing push-to-talk calls that can be started in less than a second. Now Sprint is promoting the i890 as offering those features of Direct Connect in a "style-minded look," according to Fared Adib, vice president of product development at Sprint. He said it is "perfect for anyone who needs to get work done, but still wants to look good."

The announcements by both carriers are an indication of both how competitive the wireless market has become, as the carriers seek to address buyers from all backgrounds, not just early adopters seeking sophisticated smartphones, analysts have noted. Even smartphones have come down in price over the last year, as carriers see the value of signing up customers to two-year plans with voice, texting and data service that can easily exceed $100 a month.

The Strive starts at $20 after rebate and a two-year agreement. AT&T said the Strive will be available March 21 in either black/silver or purple/charcoal, with a vertical slide design and a full physical keyboard for ease in sending e-mail and messages. It includes a 2.0 megapixel camera, but other specs were not released.

The Strive will be the first to include new services from AT&T that include an address book, group messaging and "reply all" functions for up to 10 contacts, and mobile sharing of photos and videos. That sharing function, Mobile Share, will cost $10 additional per month for 50 media transfers or 35 cents a transfer. Online storage of 250 MB is part of the service, but customers can also purchase 10 GB of online storage for $5 a month.

AT&T said the Sunburst is a touchscreen, GPS-enabled phone that will cost $40 starting March 21 after rebate and a two-year agreement.

The carrier didn't announce pricing or availability for either Pantech device nor did post photos or specs on its site.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld . Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Knowledge Center.

This story, "AT&T, Sprint launch cheaper, stylish phones" was originally published by Computerworld.

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