It seems that every BlackBerry-lover on the Internets is making a big deal over this AWS spectrum-equipped BlackBerry 9100, and while it’s great to have confirmation that the unit is hitting T-Mobile (and maybe even visiting our Canadian friends at WIND, too), all in all, it doesn’t really mean much. Here’s why:
Enter the BlackBerry 9700. RIM has done something incredibly smart. They’ve been using identical hardware for every single BlackBerry 9700, regardless of the carrier it is intended for. Let’s revisit that… RIM has used the same exact hardware for AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone, WIND, Rogers, TIM — whatever. How could this be, you’re asking? The chip RIM uses in these units supports practically every 3G band out there, and so do the antennas. What controls the hardware is the vendor/branding of the device. This enables RIM to produce one set of hardware, and brilliantly change the software to enable the 3G bands they desire. This keeps manufacturing costs lower as they only have to manufacture one single piece of the puzzle as opposed to two completely different ones, and this also will apply in theory to 3G devices going forward.
That means that BlackBerry 9100 you see with AWS bands will be able to be flashed with AT&T branding (by RIM, not by you), thus enabling 850/1900/2100MHz 3G bands without any effort. While this won’t necessarily speed up the release of these new smartphones on every carrier (they still have exclusivity agreements), you can at least rest assured that any model 3G BlackBerry from now on, will in theory support your local 3G bands, even if it doesn’t support your local 3G bands.