AT&T Releases Flood of QWERTY Phones

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Feeding a growing consumer hunger for cheap QWERTY-equipped phones that make tapping out text easier, AT&T unveiled a menu of four brand new messaging phones on Tuesday. The Pantech Matrix, Samsung Propel, Pantech Slate and AT&T Quickfire all feature full QWERTY keyboards at prices under $100.

The staggered release schedule for the phones will see the Matrix, Propel and Slate hit stores in late October, while the most high-end of the bunch, the QuickFire, will debut in November.

The Matrix follows closely in the footsteps of Pantech’s earlier Duo design by offering a QWERTY keyboard that slides out the side and a number pad that slides out the bottom, leaving the majority of the front as uninterrupted LCD screen. AT&T offers it immediately in navy blue or black with green, and will also add red to the line on Oct. 16. It sells for $80 with a two-year contract and rebate.

Pantech’s Slate takes the opposite approach, with zero sliding parts and the QWERTY pad added to its face below the LCD. Its claim to fame: AT&T says it’s the world’s thinnest phone with a full keyboard. It’s also the cheapest in the new line at just $50 with rebate and contract.

Samsung’s Propel takes a quirkier approach to hiding its keys with a fat front profile and a QWERTY board that slides out of the bottom, rather than the side. AT&T will offer it in blue, green, red, and white with red for $80 after contract and rebate, later in October.

Finally, the Quickfire (manufactured by UTStarCom) combines both a touch screen and full keyboard, plus 3G to boot, putting it more in the league of T-Mobile’s upcoming G1 or Sprint’s HTC Touch Diamond Pro. It will also be the priciest, at $100 after contract and rebate. AT&T will release it in orange, lime and silver in November.

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