T-Mobile has just announced the BlackBerry Curve 9315, which will be available January 23 for the price of $49 on a 2-year agreement. They’re touting it as the most affordable BlackBerry on the T-Mobile network, and it is, but it’s also maybe the worst deal in smartphones right now. The Curve 9315 is essentially just the Curve 9310, which was launched in July 2012 and is RIM’s low-end phone. To see it rebranded for T-Mobile and introduced at this price on contract, hitting shelves is baffling.
BB10 is set to debut officially at a launch event January 30, taking place at a number of different locations worldwide. Reports and rumors suggest that the first phones using that operating system could go on sale shortly after that, possibly as early as February if not before. The Curve 9315 is being marketed as a low-cost device, and in fact “the most affordable BlackBerry smartphone” on T-Mobile’s network, but it will still come with a $49.99 “out-of-pocket down payment,” followed by 20 equal monthly payments of $10 and require that customers sign up for a 2-year special value agreement on T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan. Or, if you’re going with a traditional contract plan (not the value variety), it’ll still cost you $49.99 (and that’s after a $50 mail-in rebate).
The Curve 9315 will become available for pre-sale to T-Mobile business customers starting January 16, and goes on sale to the general public through T-Mobile stores starting January 23. The device comes with a 3.2 megapixel rear camera, a microSD storage expansion slot, a 320×240 164ppi display and 512MB of RAM, and only offers 3G connectivity. It’s an aging device (and one largely based on the Curve 9300 platform released in 2010, with a few spec bumps), with a new model number specific to T-Mobile, and severely underspecced to arrive at this point in the game and at that price.
A low-end Curve 9315 device release at this point in the game is definitely a head-scratcher, especially when it comes with a $49 price tag (which adds up to $200 if you’re doing the installment payment plan). But it’s made even more bizarre by the imminent launch of BlackBerry 10. RIM has been touting BB7 as still a viable mobile OS all along, even as it crowed about BB10, but looking for customers to pay that much for this device a week ahead of the unveiling of a new OS seems crazy. True, RIM won’t likely offer BB10 on hardware at entry-level prices out of the gate, but then use BB7 as a true budget mobile OS; at this point, the Curve 9315 should be free on contract, and extremely cheap without.