BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) recently announced (23 August 2011) their new range of BlackBerry Curve handsets which will run on the latest version of RIM’s smartphone operating system (OS), BlackBerry 7 OS.
The range includes three devices, with the 9350 and 9370 supporting CDMA/EVDO networks, while the 9360 supports the UMTS mobile networks we see in South Africa.
According to the BlackBerry Curve 9360 spec sheet, the device has a 800MHz processor, 480×360 HVGA+ colour display, 512 MB eMMC/ 512 MB RAM, and a microSD slot supporting hot-swappable expandable storage of up to 32 GB.
It also has a 5 megapixel camera with a flash that supports VGA (640×480) video recording and 4x digital zoom, as well as support for 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi.
Rob Orr, vice president for product management at RIM, highlighted that the addition of the Curve to the new range of BlackBerry 7 OS handsets, which already includes a new Bold and two Torches, adds another layer of choice for users.
As with its predecessors, the Curve is aimed at the entry-level segment of the market. Orr said that it will be up to local network partners to determine pricing.
Limited forward compatibility
When RIM first showed off BlackBerry 7 OS earlier this year, they revealed that older devices – even the recently launched BlackBerry Bold 9780 and relatively new BlackBerry Torch – would not receive the upgrade to the new operating system version.
Last year (2010), RIM acquired QNX Software Systems, famous for their QNX operating system. Subsequently, RIM built their tablet OS, which is used in the BlackBerry PlayBook, on a version of QNX and announced their plans to eventually merge the BlackBerry smartphone and tablet OSes into a single QNX-based system.
Asked about the Curve’s forward compatibility, Orr said that they will continue to iterate and evolve BlackBerry 7 OS, but confirmed that the Curve won’t get the upgrade to the upcoming QNX-based version of BlackBerry OS.
Local pricing and availability
MTN South Africa’s senior manager for device portfolio management, Teddy Maduna, said that they have ranged the BlackBerry Curve 9360 and will be introducing later in the year, anticipating a retail price of less than R3,500. “This would be available both on pre and post paid packages,” said Maduna.
8ta‘s managing executve, Amith Maharaj, said that they too will be launching the BlackBerry 9360 and are busy completing the device’s technical acceptance. Maharaj added that they expect to launch the device in October. “Plans are in place to ensure that we launch in time,” Maharaj said. The expected retail price of the device will be confirmed in due course, Maharaj said.
Vodacom’s executive head of corporate communications, Nomsa Thusi, said that they have made no decisions on which of the devices to range, but said that they do intend to sell them. “We can only finalise the details on pricing once we’ve concluded our discussions with RIM,” said Thusi.
MyBroadband pointed out that on their spec sheets, the BlackBerry Curve 9350 and 9370 handsets are said to be aimed at CDMA/EVDO networks rather than the GSM/GPRS/EDGE and UMTS networks that Vodacom operates.
Asked whether it is accurate to say that Vodacom would only be looking at bringing in the BlackBerry Curve 9360, Thusi reiterated that the decision has not been made and that they will only be in a position to say which devices they will range once they’ve concluded their discussions with RIM.
Cell C was for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.