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BlackBerry Thunder to be RIM's iPhone killer?

updated 10:45 am EDT, Tue May 13, 2008

BlackBerry Thunder Rumor

The first early details have surfaced regarding Research in Motion's first touchscreen device and position it as a direct answer to the iPhone, according to a rumor launched by BGR. Tentatively labeled as the BlackBerry Thunder for the public and the 9500 with its model number, the device bucks earlier expectations by dropping any signs of a physical keyboard in place of an almost entirely touch-driven interface. Only the call, answer, BlackBerry, and escape keys survive the transition, according to the claim.

The device may also have the most technically advanced cellular wireless support ever, according to the claim. If accurate, the Thunder would include both CDMA and GSM support for world roaming, and would also handle 3.5G or pre-4G data: it may support up to Ultra Mobile Broadband (also known as EVDO Revision C) on CDMA networks, downloading up to 280Mbps in peak conditions, while adding full High Speed Packet Access support on GSM services. This support would allow the new BlackBerry to operate in nearly any country with 3G or better Internet access.

This dual-mode operation will be key to the launch strategy, the report states. Both Verizon and its European stakeholder Vodafone will allegedly share the device as perpetual exclusives in their respective service areas and are counting on strong sales for the hardware in the US as part of the deal; a sales shortfall at Verizon would end the exclusivity arrangement and allow other carriers such as Sprint to offer the Thunder.

An announcement of the phone may occur as early as summer of this year, according to the rumor, putting the handset in competition with the 3G iPhone. The apparent leak is nonetheless labeled as early information that may be subject to change.

Electronista readers should note that the reported launch information also conflicts with some of Verizon's existing and future plans. The company today operates a relatively slower EVDO Revision A service for data and has already announced plans to switch to Long Term Evolution for its next-generation wireless network, dropping CDMA entirely in favor of a 700MHz 4G standard that it will likely share with AT&T, Vodafone, and other carriers that today use GSM.

Verizon hasn't announced plans to upgrade its EVDO support beyond Revision A and says it will launch LTE by late 2009, with wider service most likely available by 2010. Vodafone already supports HSPA but itself says it will switch to LTE in a similar timeframe.

Thunder mockup (unlikely to represent the final model)

by MacNN Staff





  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Touch Screens

    There is a HUGE difference between a touch screen and Apple's Multi-Touch screen. Until these guys realize this, a simple touch screen will NEVER compete with the iPhone or iPod Touch.

    BTW: the mockup is just the BB Bold with the keyboard removed. To those that claimed the BB Bold doesn't look like a copy of the iPhone, just look at this mockup.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ENOUGH with the "iPhone-killer" or "iPod-killer" c***! And I thought we had broken MacNN of that!

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    killer of the week

    And can we PLEASE stop with the "(insert apple product here) killer" headlines? It is good to see what new products are out there to compete, but we all know it is no killer.

  1. GORDYmac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Can we also...

    ...stop posting without reading prior posts?

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: can we also

    take a look at the times, they were being written at the same time, needless to say it is good for MacNN to know there is a consensus on the subject.

  1. JohnnyFive

    Joined: Dec 1969



    there's nothing like thunder to break some wind . . .

    sorry, i just had to try.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPhone Lightning

    Because Lightning always comes before Thunder.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: touch screens

    So, you're saying that people should avoid all phones except those with multi-touch screens, because anything else is just poor imitation? Yet, if they used multi-touch, people would just proclaim they were imitating apple. So, I guess it comes down to that all phone companies should just stop developing phones, as they'll be nothing but piss-poor comparisons to the greatest device ever made.

    And, as for the mock-up, it is a MOCK-UP! Saying "It's a copy!" because some mock-up looks like it is just pointless. But, even so, how could it be much different than an iPhone if you are planning on doing a large screen on the device? It's not like there's much design choice after that.

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Where's the keyboard?

    No way are loyal BlackBerry fans going to put up with a touch-screen BB without an honest-to-goodness keyboard. So unless this model has a slide out keyboard, RIM won't be able to sell it to it's own user base. RIM's president said that screen keyboards suck (especially the iPhone). RIM is going to figure a way how to pop up keys right from the screen. Mark my words. Haha.

    Personally, I think BlackBerrys are cool, keyboards and all. I think there's enough room for both iPhones and BlackBerrys in the smartphone world and the choices are great for users.

  1. ricardogf

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Where are the "pundits"?

    So, WHERE ARE the geniuses that said that touchscreens were not "professional" enough, or that those tiny, ridiculous keyboards were better than the iPhone's virtual keyboard?

    Yes, they are nowhere to be seen, especially after soon-to-be-dead RIM's latest release...Testudo, have you bought one already?

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