NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu, NEC and Panasonic are discussing a joint venture with Samsung that could be created as early as next year, Reuters reported recently. The companies will develop new smartphone baseband chips in an attempt to compete directly with Qualcomm, which currently has an 80% grip on the baseband chip industry. NTT DoCoMo will be the majority owner in the Japan-based joint venture and the total investment is expected to be about $390 million. The joint venture will help each firm cut down procurement costs. Samsung has considered using the new chips in its future family of GALAXY-branded handsets, but the group will also sell the new chips to other smartphone manufacturers. NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic and Samsung have not yet announced formal plans for the venture. More →
It’s always a lot of fun for us — and hopefully for you, the readers — any time we can run wild with pictures, news, and even reviews of an unannounced handset. Today, however, RIM spoiled our fun and formally announced the BlackBerry Bold 9700. Things like carriers, release dates and pricing have been withheld for the time being, but RIM has made a statement saying that we should all expect to see the BlackBerry 9700 go on sale “around the world beginning in November.” Spec wise, nothing has changed since our pre-release review, but just in case some of you forgot or weren’t paying a whole lot of attention, here’s a quick refresher on the critical specs:
- BlackBerry OS 5.0
- 624MHz CPU
- 256MB flash memory and support for microSD cards up to 32GB
- Quad-band UMTS/HSDPA (800/850/1900/2100 MHz) or tri-band UMTS/HSDPA (900/1700/2100 MHz)
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g with UMA support (carrier dependent)
- 2.44″ HVGA+ display
- 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash
- Optical trackpad
- Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP/AVCRP
- 1500 mAh battery
- 6 hours of talk time and 17 days of standby (3G)
- 109mm x 60mm x 14.1mm, 122g
In short, this is the BlackBerry device of your dreams. We’re expecting pretty much every single major GSM carrier on the planet to pick up the 9700 sooner or later, so we’ll be sure to keep the updates coming. As always, high res pics and a few other odds and ends are available after the jump.
UPDATE: AT&T, Rogers and T-Mobile have announced they will be carrying the Bold 9700 in the weeks ahead. AT&T and T-Mobile’s 9700 will go for $199.99 after a $100 MIR on 2-year deals while Rogers will be asking for $299.99 on a 3-year contract with a monthly minimum voice and data plan of $45. Bell and TELUS have yet to come forward with pricing but have confirmed they will be carrying the device.
It looks like four bands of HSPA is too much for a BlackBerry to handle as Japanese carrier DoCoMo has suspended all sales of the Bold due to overheating issues. Since its February 20th launch, DoCoMo has sold approximately 4,000 Bolds but after receiving more than 30 complaints about overheating keypads while charging, DoCoMo decided it was best to halt sales while RIM investigates the matter. RIM is being quite tight-lipped on the matter and would only comment with, “This issue appears to be specifically limited to the BlackBerry Bold devices sold in Japan since last week and sales of BlackBerry Bold devices in other countries are unaffected by this matter.” RIM went on to clarify that faulty batteries are not to blame. For those of you scoring at home, this brings the number of carriers that have suspended sales of the Bold up to two thus far. Anyone taking bets on who might be the third?
Not to rub salt in the wounds of T-Mobile customers who are still crying out for a 3G BlackBerry, but not even the Mighty Magenta could pull off a feat the likes of what Japanese carrier DoCoMo did: convince RIM to add in a fourth band of 3G on the Bold. That’s right, the Japanese Bold that went on sale over the weekend is a quad-band 3G device containing the 2100, 1900, 850 and 800 MHz bands of UMTS/HSDPA. It was wise of RIM to omit this intel from its English press release of course, because it would definitely cause T-Mobile customers to start complaining about the Bold’s lack of of AWS 3G. And just for those of you who are wondering, the 800MHz UMTS/HSDPA band is a part of DoCoMo’s FOMA Plus Area network which is used in rural areas where the low-frequency spectrum is better able to navigate long distances and mountainous terrain. Tell us, T-Mobile 8900 users, are you green with envy that Japan got a special HSDPA band put into the Bold or is UMA enough for you?
When Nokia announced it would be withdrawing from Japan and starting a new MVNO, we weren’t sure what it had in mind. History shows that MVNOs typically aren’t very successful because of the small market for such operators (almost always being dwarfed by mega-carriers), but Nokia has really shocked us with this one. Their new venture is called Vertu Club, which is essentially further isolating an already lonesome market. This particular MVNO is, you guessed it, only going to carry Vertu handsets. The first Vertu store will be the Ginza Flagship store opening in February 2009, but since the MVNO won’t launch until the second quarter, customers will only be able to buy unlocked Vertu models when the store opens. When you think of an MVNO and the reputation it carries, and the fact that Nokia and NTT DoCoMo’s joint venture will operate on a premium membership basis, the Vertu Club almost seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Oh well, the exclusivity premise worked out great for Voce…