HELP: I’m Updating My Cell Phone

I need some advice and I’m hoping some of you can help me out… I’ve been looking at BlackBerry phones and other phones with QWERTY Keyboards but between the “Hot Deals,” the “Best Sellers,” and the user and expert reviews, I’ve managed to simply confuse myself and work up a whopper of a headache.

So here’s the skinny. I’ve carried a cell phone for years but it’s never been an essential tool in my arsenal of work gadgets. It’s handy to have in case I’m lost or were to ever need assistance on the road with two kids in tow, but other than that my current military-grade, too-big-for-any-purse-pocket, chunky cell phone is fairly useless. I don’t send and receive text messages and I don’t use my phone to take pictures. Nor am I ever wandering around town in need of finding the nearest pizza or ice-cream parlor location. In rural America it’s not a very practical application since I already know where everything is (and I mean EVERY store and EVERY source of take-out food within a 30 miles radius).

Now that we’re changing carriers and updating our cell phones, I realized it was high time that I upgrade my cell phone to something that will also allow me to do a bit of work every now and then. I take a laptop with me on vacations and extended trips anywhere but I want to be able to check email, respond to email, and even surf the Internet a bit without firing up the HP Pavilion and looking for WiFi I can connect to. I’d also like to be able to find the closest ice cream parlor location when I’m on vacation and needing a banana split fix.

I figured it would be a fairly simple task to look at the cell phone choices available these days and pick one that’s functional and pretty but now I’m feeling like a total techtard and having flashbacks from the Spring of 1998 when I first began trying to teach myself the basics of html coding.

Here are the phone currently topping my “learn more about this” list:

  • Apple iPhone of course – 3G is available when, Friday?!
  • BlackBerry Curve 8310
  • BlackBerry 8820
  • AT&T Tilt
  • MOTO Q Global
  • Samsung SGH-i617 BlackJackII
  • Pantech DUO
  • BlackBerry Pearl 8110

Am I missing anything in my list of considerations?

And here’s what I want to be able to do with my new work-gadget:

  • talk on the phone of course
  • read and respond to email on multiple accounts
  • send and receive instant message via Yahoo
  • surf the web

That’s it. I don’t like to txt nor do I like to snap photos to save or share. I really just want to be able to stay on top of work communique (email and IMs) in addition to having the handy cell phone to call someone in case of emergencies.

Looking at pictures and reviews, I love the iPhone 3G of course, but do I really need all that? The AT&T Tilt looks nice and am thinking maybe the higher price tag is worth the bigger, slide-out QWERTY keyboard it shows. I read reviews and the BlackBerry Curve 8310 seems to out-satisfy many of the others. Then I also see more expensive BlackBerry 8820’s but in comparison there doesn’t seem to be much more to those than the 8310’s. So before I spend the money I’d love to hear some first hand knowledge.

If you have any words of wisdom or personal experiences you think might help me come to a decision, feel free to drop a comment. I sincerely appreciate the input.