I’ve been wondering for some time if Research In Motion (RIM) would join the band of handset makers—HTC, Samsung, LG, among others—that have attempted to ride Apple’s success with the iPhone’s touch screen interface by offering their own wannabe iPhones.
I’m an unabashed BlackBerry lover, and ever since I first read rumors of a touch screen BlackBerry 9000 last fall, my ear’s been up for any mention of such a device.
Well last week, the Boy Genius Report (BGR) published what it claims are technical specifications for a touch screen BlackBerry that will be part of RIM’s 9000 series. If BGR’s on target, a true iPhone rival may be on the horizon.
According to BGR, the BlackBerry 9000 specs, though not yet confirmed as final, are as follows:
The BlackBerry 9000 series will include a device with a 480 x 320-pixel touch screen; 1 GB of internal memory; an Intel X-Scale PXA270 processor at 624MHz; GPS; and Wi-Fi. The device will also supposedly include 3G support (multi-band HSPDA) and either a 2 megapixel or 3.2 megapixel digital camera.
Who knows if these are actual specs or if the folks at BGR are reporting out of their you-know-whats, but a BlackBerry with all those features certainly sounds intriguing. Such a device would be one of the most powerful smartphones on the market. The iPhone currently includes a 620MHz ARM 1173 processor, according to BGR, so the device would be even more powerful than Apple’s uber smartphone.
It seems to me that RIM’s due to release a new series of devices any day now. And the company’s latest addition to the BlackBerry 8000 series, the BlackBerry 8800s and the Curve, have been so well received it would be a smart move for RIM to keep its momentum. No new BlackBerrys will be dropping before the end of the year or RIM would’ve released them in time for the holidays, but BGR’s prediction of an early-to-mid 2008 release sounds about right. Not surprisingly, no pricing information is available.
There are still quite a few questions left unanswered in the BGR post, namely, whether or not RIM will overhaul its operating system (OS) for the touch-sensitive screen and whether or not it will do away with a physical QWERTY keyboard. The iPhone is a joy to use not only because of its quality touch screen, but because of the associated software so RIM would likely need to modify its OS if it wants a similar user experience. It’s also hard to imagine a BlackBerry without a physical keyboard or that RIM would offer such a device, as quality keyboards are one of the best things its current devices have going for them. Should RIM release a BlackBerry with a touch screen, I certainly hope it’s smart enough to keep a slider or other physical keyboard as it would undoubtedly lose business customers who need to type rapidly if not. The iPhone’s touch screen doesn’t lend itself well to speedy typing and it’s hard to imagine any on-screen keyboard that could compare to a physical QWERTY keyboard in that aspect.
Touch screen or no touch screen, it will be interesting to see what RIM has in store for 2008. And I’ll be sure to update this post with any additional details I may come across regarding a BlackBerry 9000 series of devices.