As for the 9810, it is definitely faster with regards to pictures: the camera, the photos taken, and your saved images all load about 10x faster (in my short test in the AT&T store, running against my 9800 Torch on OS 18.104.22.1680 Beta, aka the fastest-loading, fastest booting OS that has yet been released for the 9800).
However, keep in mind that the AT&T store's 9810 had only about 50 pictures all saved on the built in storage, and my 9800 currently holds about 400 +/- personal ones on the media card and the annoying irremovable defaults on the built in storage are still there, too.
Other features are almost identical, performance-wise -- typing, browsing, BBM, application-switching, etc. -- I was able to download the OS 7 theme so mine even looks the same. The 9810's specs blow my phone out of the water, however it seems OS 7 is not using the 9810 to its full advantage.
Oh yeah, the 9810 is also mostly bright silver, which bodes well for my wandering eyes and my phone-ADD.
We've read 1,894 "AT&T Employee" theories, but I think this may help your decision:
My dear friend Roland (professionally nosy, but not the brightest crayon in the box) knows that the iPhone 5 was delayed by AT&T to be launched in Holiday Season (November, so... Thanksgiving? yikes.) and believes that our 9900 and 9860 suffered a similar fate...
The great thing about this is, if he's right about the timing, the 9900 and 9850, being non-iPhones, are designated as mere Holiday "phones" and will have special Holiday phone pricing!!! Perhaps not $50, but who knows?
I figure, by the time I finish typing out all of my theories about AT&T and its schemes, the devices will have launched already and I will be happy.
P.S. Joe, thank you in advance. Excited for the 9850 Verizon review & potential video! If you can, since you've done it before with other devices, perhaps you can run a side-by-side with a 9930, or my beloved "meager" OS 6 9800
sure i love my 9800..
even that i cant have a pure os 7..
but i love to mix n have a someting new than can make
more fast than 9810..ups...