Onyx enters first field trials with the carrier
Last modified on Monday, 10 August 2009 10:18
As we have been telling you for some time, the Onyx is coming and it is now known as the BlackBerry 9700. The first of the carriers in North America to get it, not surprisingly, will be AT&T. Our sources tell us that the 9700 has just entered first field trials with the carrier.
The Onyx or the BlackBerry 9700 will be the first BlackBerry in a form factor similar to the Curve that will offer 3G support. This news will likely not be good for those on AT&T that have already upgraded to the 8900, which did not offer 3G support.
While the 9700 is a bit smaller than the BlackBerry Bold 9000, it offers a feature set that in many ways is similar to the Bold, but somewhat less than the previously released Curve models. The 9700 will ship with version 5 of the BlackBerry OS, but only includes 256MB of memory; which seems to be fine, according to our sources, but many will complain that it does not include 512MB. Memory expansion is possible via a MicroSD slot that is located behind the battery door and can be changed without pulling the battery. It is said to support MicroSD HC cards up to 32GB.
Sources tell us that the keyboard on the 9700 features keys that are a bit closer together than the Bold, but the feel is good and it is usable. The new track pad which replaces the track ball used in previous Curve and Bold models works well, and the learning curve for it is not very steep. The track pad could be a bit firmer and offer a bit more resistance, but overall it is said to work well.
The 3G performance works well and is said not to impact battery life in a negative way. Battery life is said to be strong and has been improved over the Bold, and it said to be especially evident when the Bluetooth is turned on.
The 9700 will have to pass field trials first and then final technical acceptance testing. Once this has been completed we should know more about the exact release date of the 9700. The 9700 will first ship in a charcoal color on AT&T when it is released, and we suspect that you will see the 9700 released on AT&T before the end of the year; and we suspect that it could arrive as soon as late October, but we think early November might be more likely, according to our sources.