updated 12:00 am EDT, Wed July 18, 2007
Research in Motion on late Tuesday unveiled the BlackBerry 8820, its first and long-anticipated smartphone with Wi-Fi. The full-QWERTY device includes the ability to connect to most wireless hotspots for Internet access and is one of very few phones to support 802.11a for corporate networks and homes that use the format. The handheld is similarly rare in providing Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) and, on supporting carriers, is the only BlackBerry capable of automatically hopping from cellular to VoIP and back to maintain calls without either consuming service plan minutes or wandering outside of Wi-Fi coverage.
The 8820 retains all the features of the BlackBerry 8800 and incorporates GPS navigation, a dedicated media player, and Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP stereo for headphones; new to any BlackBerry is microSDHC that allows the phone to store more than 4GB and as much as 32GB of media or data on a single removable card.
As a quad-band GSM device with EDGE Internet access, the 8820 will be available worldwide within the next several weeks and is scheduled to arrive at AT&T by the end of the summer and will be available for Rogers Wireless in Canada as well. T-Mobile has not announced plans to use the phone with its Hotspot@Home UMA service.