In the many years I've covered the company formerly known as Research In Motion (RIM), now BlackBerry, I've written countless comparison stories about the differences between BlackBerry smartphones and other handsets from BlackBerry rivals. In almost all of those stories, I spotlighted a very specific feature as a benefit of BlackBerry: a removable battery.
Every single BlackBerry smartphones to date has had a removable battery pack, at least that I can remember. Even early BlackBerry pagers had batteries that could be removed and replaced. (The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet's battery cannot be removed.)
But a new rumor suggests BlackBerry's upcoming mid-range-QWERTY BlackBerry 10 handset will be the first BlackBerry smartphone ever with a fixed, non-removable battery. BlackBerry is expected to release one all-touch device and one full-QWERTY device in high-end, midrange, and entry-level tiers, with the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 representing the top-level tier.
The BlackBerry "R10," or the new "Curve," as it is currently being referred to, will have a fixed, 1800mAh battery, according to a report from Chinese site bbs.dgtle.com. (The BlackBerry Z10 also has an 1800mAh battery, and the Q10 has a 2100mAh battery, but both devices' batteries are removable.) The report also includes a number of new images of the purported mid-range, full QWERTY device, which, based on the images, will available in a variety of colors including black, white and red. Additional images of the "R10 Curve" leaked last month.
Honestly, I'll probably never use this mid-range BlackBerry. I'll stick with my BlackBerry Q10. But I would still be a bit disappointed if the report about the fixed battery proves to be accurate, because removable batteries have always been a staple of BlackBerry smartphones. When you get used to using a smartphone with a removable battery, it's tough to switch to one with a fixed power pack.
BlackBerry probably wants to keep production costs of the "R10 Curve" as low as possible, and it could be cheaper to build a device with a fixed battery and battery door that cannot be removed—fewer moving parts, etc. But such a compromise could be a major turnoff for loyal BlackBerry users who have come to count on the ability to swap batteries out when necessary.