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AT&T's exclusive, risk-taking phones (pictures)

The carrier has a recent history of taking a chance on oddball devices, nabbing these for-better-or-worse exclusives.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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1 of 12 James Martin/CNET

Embracing the unusual

T-Mobile may have the US mobile industry all shook up when it comes to breaking contract convention, but on the phone front, it's AT&T that pads its lineup with the chancier handsets. Here's a look at some of the more unique devices that AT&T has embraced since 2007 -- for better or for worse.

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2 of 12 James Martin/CNET

Amazon Fire Phone

At least for now, AT&T has exclusive rights to sell Amazon's Fire Phone, a device whose four tracking cameras on the front help create immersive 3D effects while using the phone, and whose physical camera button also scans the world around you. Although not all specs come in on top, AT&T is giving the Fire Phone the full hero treatment.

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3 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Asus PadFone X

Announced in January at CES, AT&T has been sitting on the Asus PadFone X, the first of Asus' phone-in-tablet hybrids to land at a US carrier. Half a year later, AT&T still isn't stocking the pair, whose specs superiority slips month by month as competing devices launch.

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4 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Motorola Atrix 4G

The PadFone X isn't AT&T's only toe into this phone-docking territory. The carrier also exclusively carried the Motorola Atrix 4G and its add-on laptop dock.The accessory cost a pretty penny, selling bundled for $500 after a $100 mail-in rebate and a data contract. Otherwise, the dock cost $500 all on its own.

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5 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

While high-performance cell phone cameras constitute a major buying point, Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom took the notion to bulky new proportions. Outfitting a point-and-shoot with a zoom lens, Android OS, and a cellular radio may have seemed like a good idea at the time -- and it sure was unique -- but there's probably a reason that AT&T isn't selling the S4 Zoom's sequel.

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6 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Lumia 1020

As far as high-end cell phone cameras go, Nokia's Lumia 1020 Windows phone was the more pocket-friendly bet. It lacked the S4 Zoom's optical zoom, but added a lossless cropping feature that boasted image capturing up to 41 megapixels.

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7 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Lumia 900

The staunchest supporter of Windows Phone OS, AT&T was the first to host Nokia's US resurgence with the Lumia 900. The 4G LTE smartphone -- the first Windows Phone of its time to include faster 4G speeds -- shocked the market with its bright colors, like the now-signature cyan blue.

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8 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Note

Now, the Samsung Galaxy Note series is a foregone conclusion, but when the 5.3-inch "phablet" first descended, the Galaxy Note was a monstrous stylus-slinging oddity that seemed unsure if it wanted to be a cell phone, a tablet, or something else entirely.

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9 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

HTC Status

Despite well-crafted hardware and a dedicated Facebook button, the small, landscape-locked HTC Status failed to enamor itself to AT&T's customers in 2011.

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10 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

HTC First

The Status' lack of success didn't stop AT&T from championing the next "Facebook" phone two years later, in 2013. A physically forgettable phone, the HTC First's notable feature was Facebook Home a start screen skin that made Facebook the central experience, and all other phone functions secondary.

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11 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung DoubleTime

For a while (especially in 2011), phone-makers experimented with multiple screens. The concept never panned out, but that didn't stop AT&T from backing Samsung's attempt, the DoubleTime, which folded open like a book to reveal a second screen and full QWERTY keyboard.

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12 of 12 Apple

Apple iPhone

The original Apple iPhone was AT&T's largest and best exclusive, sucking in much-needed customers once the iPhone became the must-have device. The phone may be nearing its sixth generation of runaway popularity now, but at the time, the lore goes, AT&T bet on the iPhone sight unseen.

For even more AT&T phones, see our favorite picks here.

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