T-Mobile adds BlackBerry Curve 9360 to lineup, $80 after rebate

T-Mobile adds BlackBerry Curve 9360 to lineup, $80 after rebate

Summary: Is T-Mobile's touchscreen-less, OS 7-running BlackBerry Curve 9360 the austere smartphone choice for busy and budget-minded professionals and consumers?

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T-Mobile seems to be courting BlackBerry fans at multiple price points: first with the top-of-the-line BlackBerry Bold 9900, and now with the more budget-friendly Curve 9360.

Unlike the Bold 9900's sky-high $300 price tag with contract (unless you catch it on sale this Saturday), the Curve 9360 starts at a more reasonable $80 after a $50 mail-in rebate, but still requires signing a two-year service agreement (at minimum a classic voice and data plan).

Rather than offer a tiny touchscreen like the Bold 9900, the Curve 9360 has a 480 x 360, 2.44-inch HVGA + display, with 512 MB of internal storage, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, a micro-SDHC slot (can read up to a 32 GB card), and a 5-megapixel camera with flash that can shoot VGA videos. Most importantly, it comes with the "iconic" QWERTY keyboard and optical trackpad for speedy thumb-typing and navigation, as well as a new version of BBM and Social Feeds.

Research In Motion is listing the OS 7-running Curve being good for 5-hours of phone calls on the GSM and UMTS networks, and 12 to 14 days in standby mode. According to its specs sheet, this BB is compatible with HSPA for voice and data so you should be able to enjoy T-Mobile's 4G speeds but a T-Mobile rep confirmed to me by email that, "The BlackBerry Curve 9360 is a 3G device, not 4G."

IT managers should also be happy to know that even this basic BB offers enterprise security features via BlackBerry Protect, so users can backup their data to the cloud and be able to trace misplaced BBs using GPS. In fact, T-Mobile is giving business users first dips to the Curve 9360 now, before opening it up to the general public on September 28. The Curve 9360 will be available in black first, with a special "merlot" color coming to select stores by October 12.

This BB rather than the Bold 9900 may just be the device RIM needs to bring users back to its secured fold; after all, it's cheap (who doesn't like that these days?) despite its enterprise-friendly security features, and is what professionals have been using for a long time now to get things done. I can see budget conscious IT departments going with this rather than try to manage a diverse set of mobile devices, which is contrary to Forrester's report on The State Of Workforce Technology Adoption: US Benchmark 2011 published just this morning:

BlackBerry still has the largest installed base of smartphones for work — but Android and Apple devices combined lead the workplace. While 42 percent of workers use RIM BlackBerry, IT departments are supporting more devices, and Apple and Android are starting to cut into RIM’s enterprise dominance: 26 percent of workers now use Android smartphones, and 22 percent use iPhones.

What do you think? Is the Curve 9360 what RIM needs or is it just not good enough for 2011?

Updated at 1:09pm: Added T-Mobile rep's confirmation this phone is a 3G, not 4G device.

[Source: BusinessWire, T-Mobile press release, RIM press release, RIM Specs Sheet]

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Mobile OS, BlackBerry, Security

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