While StraightTalk teased the announcement over the last week over its social media profiles, the virtual operator is still making the most of its expanded agreement with Verizon Wireless by launching its first BlackBerry device in the BlackBerry Curve 9310. The phone as sold by StraightTalk is powered by Verizon’s CDMA network.
The phone is now available online for $130, either as an upgrade with no service card bundle necessary for current customers, or in a bundle with a new $45/$60 service card bundle for $174.99 and $189.99 respectively, making this less expensive than the Boost Mobile version, with full BlackBerry service support on both plans and signals the rollout of official BlackBerry service support on the virtual operator.
The phone features the following specifications:
- 3.2 M Camera/Video Recorder
- Alarm Clock
- Blackberry 7.1
- Call Waiting
- Caller ID
- HAC Compatible
- Handsfree Speaker
- Instant Messaging
- MP-3 Player
- Text/Picture Messaging
StraightTalk’s parent in Tracfone purchased Simple Mobile last year from T-Mobile which included a full BlackBerry service license, but has so far not expanded that license across the rest of the brand portfolio. The BlackBerry Curve 9310 is also sold currently on Boost Mobile with a less expensive service plan that does not include BIS/BES support.
With the StraightTalk 9310 featuring full BlackBerry service access at the $45 and $60 levels, it represents the rapid decrease in costs for rolling out full BlackBerry services on pre-BB10 devices and represents the move for BIS and BES service further downward within prepaid.
While the 9310 will not appeal to enthusiasts or those looking forward to BB10, which no longer requires a dedicated BIS/BES service plan due to the way that the platform now handles data access, the phone is sure to appeal to those that are looking for an inexpensive device for messaging and email, as the $130 price undercuts Verizon’s own outright pricing for the phone by $170 on its own prepaid service. The phone will be launched via retail later this month along with another updated device from LG to replace the Verizon-powered Optimus Zip.