Early this morning, RIM announced three new smartphones (the BlackBerry Curve 9350, 9360, and 9370) that on the outside look exactly the same, but have a few subtle differences under their respective hoods. You might recognize this as the Curve Apollo and Sedona that we’ve been seeing in leaked shots for the last couple of months.
Let’s start with what they’ve all got in common. All three have near-field communications, a feature that was previously only available in the Bold 9900/9930, though I suspect these new Curves will be just as prone to carriers placing a software block on NFC. They BlackBerry 9350, 9360, and 9370 all have 800 MHz processors, which puts them dab smack between the first batch of OS 7 devices running at 1.2 GHz, and the old generation of BlackBerry devices, which clocked in at 624 MHz. The 2.4-inch display on all of them are at a 480 x 360 resolution, which is also a bit lower-grade than the new BlackBerry smartphones, but beats the snot out of the 320 x 240 screen on the old Curve 3G 9300 and 8500-series. Though they aren’t touchscreens, word has it than a variant called Orlando will make that upgrade. The 9350 and 9360 are getting by on 512 MB of RAM, but the 9370 keeps up with the big boys by including 1 GB. They all have 5 megapixel cameras with LED flash and VGA video recording, but apparently it’s using the same EDOF fixed-focus mechanism as the 9900 – that means pooptastic close-ups. In terms of connectivity, the 9350 will be HSPA/GSM, the 9360 will be EVDO/CDMA, and the 9370 will be able to play on both types of networks. The 9360 and 9370 will also support UMA, better known as calling over Wi-Fi, but that service is largely dependent on carriers.
At this point, RIM’s OS 7 strategy might seem a little scattershot (let’s release a whole bunch of phones and see what sticks), but it’s pretty consistent with their history. Lower-end devices like these actually tend to do really well, especially internationally where multi-year contracts are non-existant, and up-front device price can be a deal-breaker. Specs aside, the new Curves look pretty slick, borrowing at least a bit of style from the old 8800 series, while being the first of the new batch to bring in the classic Curve keyboard style. While RIM’s upper-tier OS 7 devices may be butting heads with the latest and greatest smartphones from other manufacturers (as well as their own QNX handsets due out early next year), these lower-end handsets don’t necessarily need to meet high demands to be successful. NFC is an interesting inclusion for a lower-end handset, and I suspect will help push the technology into the public eye a lot more quickly than the Bold 9900/9930.
Apparently Canada will be getting all three of these starting this month, with other parts of the world due to start launching early September. You can check out more info on the new Curves over at RIM’s information page. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on carrier announcements.
Update: Hey look, the Telus “coming soon” page is live, and Rogers has confirmed that they’ll be offering the 9360 alongside Virgin Mobile (which means Bell won’t be far behind). In the U.S., Sprint has confirmed the launch of the 9350 on September 9 for $79.99 on a two-year contract. In the UK, O2, Vodafone, and Three have confirmed they’ll be offering the 9360, and included demo videos, embedded below.