updated 09:20 am EDT, Wed September 19, 2007
BlackBerry 8820 at ATT
AT&T today announced the launch of the BlackBerry 8820 on its network, bringing the first Research in Motion smartphone with Wi-Fi to the US. Like the reference model, AT&T's edition supports most 802.11 wireless connections, including the 802.11a hotspots often neglected by other wireless phones. This gives it a true data roaming ability that isn't possible with any other BlackBerry or most other smartphones, AT&T says. The carrier's version also brings assisted GPS through TeleNav, push-to-talk service, and online music purchasing through eMusic Mobile as well as Internet streaming from XM Satellite Radio.
Previous rumors had suggested the new BlackBerry would be deliberately crippled in GPS functions to improve the perceived quality of the iPhone's Google Maps service, a claim that was later overturned and has so far gone unverified.
Notably absent from this version of the 8820, however, is support for the phone's built-in Unlicensed Mobile Access that allows devices to hand off calls from the cellular network to Wi-Fi Internet access; the provider has not announced a service similar to T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home, which allows cellphone use indoors or to save costs on calls using familiar Internet access points. Bluetooth 2.0 and a media player with microSD storage transfer over from the stock version.
AT&T has not released full details of pricing, but says that the 8820 should be available today for $300 after factoring in a two-year contract and a rebate. BlackBerry messaging plans start from $20 per month.