Smart and Cheap: AT&T Will Give Low-Cost Phones High IQs

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Do you have iPhone envy? Is your brother's BlackBerry giving you the blues?

On Monday, AT&T (T) unveiled a lineup of four Quick Messaging Devices designed to bring smart phone-like features to low-cost handsets. The new services will include group messaging, photo and video transfers, and contacts management. The move by AT&T comes as more telecom carriers add inexpensive phones that feature Bluetooth capability, cameras and Web browsers to their lineups.

"Quick Messaging Devices are among our most popular cutting-edge services that enhance the overall experience consumers have with these phones," David Christopher, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets' chief marketing officer said in a statement.

On Sunday, AT&T will begin offering the Samsung (SSNLF) Strive for $19.99 with a two-year service agreement, based on a $50 mail-in rebate. The slide phone features a full keyboard and a 2.0-megapixel camera. Additionally, AT&T will offer a Samsung Sunburst for $39.99 with similar purchase requirements. The Sunburst is GPS-enabled and has a widget bar designed to allow one-touch access to various functions such as text messaging.

In the coming weeks, AT&T will also offer the Pantech Link, and the Pantech Pursuit in the summer. The Link will feature a full keyboard, while the Pursuit will include a full touch screen with a vertical sliding keyboard. Pricing for the Pantech phones is not yet available.

The Samsung Strive will be the first of the four phones to feature the new services. The AT&T Address Book service is designed to synchronize contacts with an online address book, which in turn aims to allow customers to manage their contacts from both their mobile devices and their PCs. Group messaging to up to 10 contacts will also be offered as part of AT&T's Next Generation Messaging service.

Under its Mobile Share service, AT&T aims to allow customers using its mobile phones to share up to 10MB of photos and videos with their home computer, social networking sites, friends and family, and their AT&T Internet-based storage account.
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