BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 Release Imminent; Camera-Less Version Expected

RIM should release its first BlackBerry smartphone with the new BlackBerry 7 mobile OS, the Bold 9900/9930, in the very near future, and the device will likely be available without a camera for organizations that have security policies barring the use of smartphones with digital shooters.

Good news for CrackBerry addicts and other gadget geeks looking to get their thumbs on the latest and greatest BlackBerry smartphone: RIM's thinnest BlackBerry to date, the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 should become available in the United States and elsewhere within the coming weeks.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 with NFC
BlackBerry Bold 9900

The device, which will be one of the first BlackBerrys to run RIM's "BlackBerry 7" mobile OS, formerly dubbed BlackBerry 6.1, is also expected to be sold with and without a camera, for organizations that don't allow digital shooters within certain facilities or sensitive areas. (The BlackBerry Bold 9900 will be a GSM-specific version of the device, while the Bold 9930 will be a "world phone" with support for CDMA and GSM/UMTS radio frequencies.)

Back in May, RIM told us to expect a "late summer" release for the Bold 9900, one of seven new BlackBerry smartphones expected to hit store shelves before the start of 2012, and it looks like the Canadian company might actually meet this target...unlike some of its other targeted release dates that already came and past. (Think: The native e-mail and personal information management (PIM) apps for RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which were supposed to arrive sometime in June, but have been delayed indefinitely.)

Though neither RIM nor any of its global wireless carrier partners announced official release dates for the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 after the device was first unveiled last May, a variety of leaked materials and other information suggest the 9900-series release is just around the corner.

For example, RIM recently listed the Bold 9900/9930 on its online store, ShopBlackBerry.com, and you can now purchase a variety of official accessories for the handheld, including cases, holsters, skins, spare batteries and charging kits. Online third-party, mobile-phone-parts retailers are already selling replacement parts for the Bold 9900/9930—a sure sign that the device will hit stores shelves in the not too distant future.

Various purported leaked documents and wireless-carrier inventory information suggest the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 will become available in a variety of locales across the globe in the August-September timeframe. Verizon Wireless even mistakenly posted a video tutorial for the Bold 9930 last week.

And a leaked Sprint inventory shot from earlier this summer suggests that the Bold 9900/9930 will be available without a camera. In the past, RIM has released a number of its high-end BlackBerry smartphones in "camera-less" versions for companies and organizations that ban the use of digital cameras on all or some premises.

In addition to Sprint, the three remaining major U.S. wireless carriers are all expected to get the Bold 9900/9930 within the coming month or so, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

So it shouldn't be long at all before RIM drops its next BlackBerry smartphone...though whether or not it will be enough to keep wavering BlackBerry users loyal remains to be seen.

For more details on the upcoming Bold 9900/9930 smartphone, read my hands-on first impressions from RIM's BlackBerry World conference last spring.

AS

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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