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RIM Rumored to Have New BlackBerry Touchscreen Smartphone and Tablet in the Works


According to the Wall Street Journal, RIM has a couple of interesting new BlackBerry products in the works, including a vertical slider with a touchscreen interface and a companion tablet.

The smartphone has been long rumored, even coming with its own code number (the 9800) and a few leaked photos. The vertical slider design is, in my opinion, an underused smartphone form factor. I much prefer the smaller keys, as my clumsy thumbs have a shorter distance to move while typing, than in the more common landscape slider (as in the Motorola Droid and Sidekick phones).

The WSJ says the phone will run a new version of the long-stagnant BlackBerry OS that "works much like an iPhone," with swiping gestures and a more visual user interface. The piece also repeats the rumor we've previously heard about a universal search bar as seen in Android and Palm WebOS. That matches what we've previously heard about the upcoming BlackBerry 6.0.

The tablet is a new one, though, and an interesting beast. Reading between the lines, it's much earlier in the development cycle than the new smartphone, and might be sold as less a standalone device and more a companion device to a BlackBerry smartphone.

The only concrete rumor about this mysterious tablet is that it would rely on a BlackBerry smartphone's mobile Internet connection for its own connectivity, meaning it won't have its own internal wireless. That's an odd choice—presumably it has at least Wi-Fi, but restricting mobile internet access to a tethered BlackBerry could also reduce the potential market.

The BlackBerry vertical slider, probably numbered the 9800, will see release in 2010. The tablet may or may not follow next year.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one—you'll have to do the legwork yourself).