Purported BlackBerry 'Onyx' photos surface

Engadget has photos of what the tech Web site says is a prototype of a new BlackBerry 3G smartphone, called Onyx.

Engadget has photos of what the tech Web site says is a prototype of a new BlackBerry 3G smartphone, called Onyx.

Details are scarce, and there's no official word from Research in Motion. Various other tech sites have chipped in with intense speculation. The consensus seems to be that Onyx packs the BlackBerry Bold's 3G GSM radio, 802.11abg Wi-Fi and slightly different QWERTY keyboard into the BlackBerry Curve's sleeker, more compact package. It might also include an optical trackpad, which had been forecast for yet another rumored device, the BlackBerry Curve 8520, or Gemini.

The alleged specifications for Onyx so far:

* 2100MHz UMTS/HSDPA and AWS 1700MHz

* 3.2 MP autofocus camera (used in the Curve but not the Bold)

* GPS (both Curve and Bold have this)

* W-iFi (the Bold supports 11abg; some Curve models have 11bg)

* Full QWERTY keyboard

* Optical trackpad (a first for RIM)

* 480×360 screen (same as Curve 8900 vs Bold's 480 x 320)

* Carbon fiber back battery cover

Both the current Bold and Curve have full QWERTY keyboards built into the device. The Bold separates each row of keys with a thin strip matching the outer case.

Onyx would seem to continue RIM's traditional screen technology; only the BlackBerry Storm introduced a touchscreen, which was criticized by many reviewers though the device itself has been a strong seller for RIM. There are yet more rumors of a "Storm 2" due for release in September, which will feature an improved touch interface.

Also included in the speculation is that Onyx is intended for AT&T's network, while a model (called "Driftwood") that supports Unlicensed Mobile Access (for automatic roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi networks) will be available for T-Mobile. (The Curve 8900 is UMA-enabled for T-Mobile today.)

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