Fugly BlackBerry “Knight R47/9980” Appears to be Legit ‘Berry of Some Sort
Images and video of what, on first glance, appear to be some sort of ugly, Chinese knock-off BlackBerry may actually be a legitimate upcoming smartphone from RIM--rumors even suggest the BlackBerry "Knight 9980/R47" could be a limited edition, luxury device designed by European automobile-manufacturer Porsche.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
When the first blurry images of what is now being referred to as the BlackBerry “Bold 9980/R47” smartphone hit the Web a couple of weeks ago, my initial response was “No way that thing is a legitimate BlackBerry. It looks just like a Chinese knock-off device.”
But it’s starting to look like my first impression was off base and that the awkward-looking handheld could actually be an upcoming, limited edition BlackBerry that may be available with inset diamonds. (That or it’s an early prototype of a current or other unreleased BlackBerry.) In fact, one rumor says the handheld was designed by European auto manufacturer Porsche, and it will be called the BlackBerry “Knight.”
I’m still very skeptical of this device for a number or reasons, not the least of which is that it’s so damn ugly, it’s hard to believe RIM–or Porsche–would consider releasing such a handheld. But if the pictured device is indeed a “real” BlackBerry, it’s likely a prototype that could receive a significant makeover before it’s released. And I must admit, when I saw the first leaked images of Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry Torch 9800 and the brand new Torch 9850/60, I had a similar reaction: I initially thought both devices were hideous looking, though they eventually grew on me…sort of.
And a few notable features do seem to suggest that this BlackBerry “Knight R47/9980” was manufactured by RIM, or that some of its parts were, at least. First, it’s clearly running RIM’s latest BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 7, in the leaked videos. (See embedded clip below) And only legit RIM hardware can run the BlackBerry OS, due to security-related processes that every BlackBerry performs upon start up. So this seems to suggest that some or all of the hardware was built by RIM.
The smartphone also employs the same BlackBerry JM1 battery that powers the two newest BlackBerrys, the Bold 9900/9930 and Torch 9850/9860. A “Made in Canada” sticker clearly appears in some pictures–RIM’s headquarters are located in Canada, and some device prototypes are presumably made and tested there. The device also appears to feature some sort of new navigation mechanism in place of the common trackpad or trackball found on RIM’s latest smartphone, which is part of the device screen/body, instead of a separate component. And this seems like a logical progression from the trackball/trackpad.
One thing that rubs me wrong about this strange smartphone, though, is the keyboard. RIM is known for its ergonomic and functional keyboards, and frankly, the keypad on the pictured device looks neither ergonomic nor functional. Though, again, the device could potentially receive some major enhancements, including a new keyboard, before it’s released.
I wanted to see what RIM had to say about this whole deal, so I reached out for a comment, but received the expected canned response from spokesperson Marisa Conway: “Sorry, RIM doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
So, to sum that all up: Nobody really knows what exactly this new device is, or if it’s a legitimate RIM handheld at all. And RIM isn’t talking. But a number of signs suggest that RIM did indeed build it, or at least many of the components used to make it. It is currently running RIM’s BlackBerry 7 OS, not the upcoming and much anticipated QNX-based BlackBerry OS. And reports suggest it will be a limited edition device if it is a genuine BlackBerry–and a pricey one at that, if the diamond rumor pans out.
You do, however, have to wonder whether or not RIM, and perhaps Porsche, is reconsidering a possible release after the almost exclusively negative online public response to the leaked images and video.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.