BlackBerry Curve 8910 Gets FCC Cert; U.S.-Bound After All?

The recently uncovered BlackBerry Curve 8910, previously thought to be destined for shores outside North America, has popped up in an FCC wireless certification, suggesting the 3G-less device may be bound for the United States after all.

Last week, I wrote up a piece detailing three upcoming BlackBerry smartphones Research In Motion (RIM) has yet to announce, but have been exposed on the Web nonetheless: The BlackBerry "Tour2" 9650; the "Pearl2" 9100; and finally, the most-recently uncovered BlackBerry handheld, the Curve 8910.

Leaked Image of the BlackBerry Curve 8910
Leaked Image of the BlackBerry "Curve 8910" via BerryReview

When I posted that story, a number of blogs and news outlets were reporting that the Curve 8910, thought to be codenamed the BlackBerry "Atlas," was a GSM/GPRS/EDGE device with no support for 3G bands and that it was meant for sale outside the United States, where demand for 3G devices might be weaker. But it appears as though that observation was inaccurate.

Yesterday, additional information on the Curve 8910 came to light, and now it looks like the handheld just may be coming to America after all. Phone Scoop spotted a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing from RIM for the Curve 8910, and as previously thought it appears to be sporting only EDGE connectivity and no 3G. However, the fact that the U.S. FCC has certified the handheld with support for U.S. wireless bands seems to suggest that it will at some point be sold in the United States, as well--or at least it could be.

A Bluetooth certification for the BlackBerry 8910 was also recently spotted, lending further credence to the idea that this handheld isn't too far from an official release.

And some blogs have even posted what they claim to be full technical-specification lists for the BlackBerry Curve 8910, though I'm a bit skeptical of the information and you probably should be too. Here are some purported specs from BBLeaks.com:

  • Curve with faster EDGE for data - evolved EDGE
  • Radio Quad Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE with DLDC and LatRed support for Evolved EDGE
  • Downlink data speed 473kbps (with 8 timeslots)
  • Display 480x360 LCD
  • Camera3.2 MP Auto Focus, Flash
  • Micro USB high speed, Bluetooth 2.1
  • Optical Navigation Module
  • Functional Hard Keys Volume
  • User Configurable Key
  • Speaker Phone
  • Media Keys/Mute
  • Lock - A*
  • Software BB 5.0
  • Battery M-S1 1500mAhr
  • Memory 256 MB Flash
  • 256 MB SDR RAM
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n
  • UMA supported
  • GPS Supported with A-GPS ready

I'm unsure of what exactly RIM might be attempting to do with this new Curve 8910 in the United States and Canada, should it decide to market the device in these countries. The Curve 8900 was released in the United States in January 2009--it was available in Europe months earlier. And though it has seen some decent uptake, the device isn't exactly hopping off store shelves at this point.

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Both T-Mobile and AT&T currently offer the Curve 8900 in the United States, and these are presumably the two U.S. carriers that would sell the Curve 8910. But both carriers also offer 3G BlackBerry devices in the Bold 9000 (AT&T) and Bold 9700 (both T-Mobile and AT&T), and the prices of all of these smartphones are comparable, so the Curve 8900 is often overshadowed by these more powerful handhelds.

Image of BlackBerry Curve 8910 from FCC Filing
Image of BlackBerry Curve 8910 from FCC Filing

The Curve 8910 would fall into the same bucket, even though it appears to feature RIM's new trackpad in place of the company's troublesome trackball. Beyond the trackpad and some style-enhancements, the Curve 8910 doesn't look to have much to offer BlackBerry users that the Curve 8900 doesn't already.

It's possible that RIM is trying to differentiate its Bold and Curve brands in the GSM world by restricting Curve devices to EDGE-only and making 3G available on just Bold smartphones. But there's already a 3G Curve available in the CDMA Curve 8530, and the BlackBerry Tour is also a 3G CDMA device, so that strategy would be a bit "off" anyway.

RIM's single most popular device-line to date is the Curve 83xx family. And it's about time for the company to phase out that device, so perhaps RIM's trying to "replace" the 8300 Curve with a polished Curve 8900...

But why another EDGE-only Curve?

Honestly, you can color this blogger a vague shade of confused here. I really don't see why RIM would release another EDGE-only Curve in North America, when it already has the Curve 8900 and Curve 8520--both EDGE-only devices--to cater to the mid-level and entry-level smartphone user. And adding another "flavor" of Curve also doesn't seem like the greatest idea. RIM's already diluted its Curve and Pearl brands by making multiple devices under each name--some with very different form-factors--and adding another would only confuse potential buyers more.

We'll have to wait to see, but unless the Curve 8910's packing some interesting feature(s) we're unaware of at this point, the device looks to be another boring mid-level BlackBerry that won't grab much attention in the long run--and RIM already has a handful of those.

AS

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