BlackBerry Curve 9320 is pictured with its dedicated BBM button

Back in January, a leaked BlackBerry roadmap mentioned a low spec’d entry level model called the BlackBerry Curve 9320. This is a great model for the first time smartphone user as it won’t get you too wrapped up in features and bogged down in customization. While the physical QWERTY on this model isn’t as amazing as the one on the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930, it still is a great feature for your thumb twirling texting teen who might not need a touchscreen as long as she can keep that conversation with her BFF going.

One feature of the BlackBerry Curve 9320 that both new and old ‘Berry users will appreciate is the dedicated button on the side of the handset that launches BBM. The rest of the specs include a 2.44 inch QVGA non touchscreen display with pixel density of 164 ppi. A single core processor of unspecified clock speed is under the hood with 512MB of RAM aboard. The microSD slot that is on the device is strategically placed to allow hot swapping, and can accept as much as an additional 32GB in storage and there is a 3.2MP camera on back that does capture video. BlackBerry 7 OS should be installed out of the box. This model replaces the similarly low spec’d BlackBerry Curve 9300 aka BlackBerry Curve 3G.

As we noted when BlackBerry India leaked some photos of this device earlier this month, this phone is still unannounced by RIM so important things like launch date and pricing are unknown at the moment. One interesting observation from BlackBerry India is that while the phone is made of plastic, the quality of the plastic used is superior to that used by Samsung on some of the Korean based manufacturers higher-end models.

RIM reveals new $120 PlayBook keyboard case [video]

Following the much delayed BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 update, the tablet finally has a native email client, other PIM apps and a larger selection of apps thanks to its Android player. Research in Motion is now looking to further boost interest in its debut slate, and it has announced the BlackBerry Mini Keyboard for those users looking for a physical keypad option on top of the virtual one.

The accessory retails for a lofty $119.99 and is available for pre-order starting today, with shipments going out on March 23rd. The concept of the keyboard is similar to the competition. It includes a multitouch trackpad for browsing, a keyboard for easy input and a battery that last up to 30 days. Unlike the ASUS Transformer Prime, RIM’s accessory does not have a docking feature and is just a carrying case with an integrated Bluetooth keyboard. RIM’s video demonstation follows below.


BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 Now Available for Download!

FINALLY!! After what’s been a Long Road to BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, it’s finally here and available for download! If you own a BlackBerry PlayBook, just go to Settings > Software Updates > Check for Updates and you should find PlayBook OS 2.0 available for wireless download. Follow the instructions on screen for the easy installation process. When a new PlayBook OS update becomes available it sometimes takes a little while for it be accessible by all users, so if you check and it’s not there just yet, have patience. It will be there soon. We promise.

BlackBerry PlayBoook OS 2.0 is a MAJOR software update to the operating system of Research In Motion’s first tablet, and it brings with it a ton of upgrades that owners have been waiting for. In addition to a revamped homescreen experience, native email, calendar and contacts along with social service integration (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) are onboard. Behind the scenes, the introduction of the Android App Player in OS 2.0 will broaden the selection of apps available via BlackBerry App World. And for those who own a BlackBerry Smartphone, combined with an update to the BlackBerry Bridge app you’ll unleash some useful and fun functionality, like the ability to use your phone’s keyboard to enter text on the PlayBook or use your phone as a remote control for your tablet.

PlayBook OS 2 offers a ton of other feature enhancements as well, and we’ll bringing them all to you here on CrackBerry this weeek and beyond. We have a ton of great coverage planned, so you’ll want to be visiting often. In the meantime, get that software update going and be sure to jump into CrackBerry’s BlackBerry PlayBook forums, the hub for BlackBerry PlayBook owners worldwide!


BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 said to launch on February 21st

When Research In Motion released its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, the device had its fair share of problems. RIM promised an operating system update that would address these problems but the launch was delayed by several months. A new report from N4BB claims the official release of the PlayBook 2.0 update is set for February 21st, just over a week later than the company initially planned. The PlayBook OS 2.0 update will include native email, calendar and contacts apps, but unfortunately native BBM will remain absent from the tablet and can only be accessed through BlackBerry Bridge.


Facebook and Twitter are more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol, study finds

A new study suggests that social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter are more difficult to resist than cigarettes or alcohol. A team from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business recently conducted an experiment involving 205 people in Wurtzburg, Germany to analyze the addictive properties of social media and other vices. Participants in the week-long study were polled via BlackBerry smartphones seven times per day and asked to report when they experienced a desire within the past 30 minutes, and whether or not the succumbed to that desire. They were also asked to gauge each desire on a scale from mild to “irresistible.”

In total, 10,558 responses were recorded and a total of 7,827 “desire episodes” were reported by participants. The results of the team’s study will soon be published in the Psychological Science journal, however preliminary data provided to The Guardian suggests the highest rate of “self-control failures” were tied to social media services.

“Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success,” said Wilhelm Hofmann, the leader of team conducting the study. Hofmann suggests people may fail to resist social media so much because there is no obvious or immediate downside to checking services like Twitter or Facebook. He does warn that these services can ultimately be a huge drain on users’ time, however.

“Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist,” Hofmann said. ”With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs – long-term as well as monetary – and the opportunity may not always be the right one. So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time.”


Turn your BlackBerry into a Game Boy

You know what would go down well with this particular Game Boy skin for a range of BlackBerry devices from RIM? I am thinking a Game Boy emulator software, although the BlackBerry isn’t exactly the most optimal device to have fun with on the go, considering this is more of a business tool than anything else. Still, if you grew up in the era of the Game Boy and have your GamePaks all stowed away in alphabetical order, and mastering two-player Tetris, then you might just want to check out just what this $8.99 BlackBerry skin is able to offer.

Apart from making your smartphone look like a Game Boy from the outside from a certain angle, it will also offer minor protection from surface scratches, but do make sure you specify just which BlackBerry model you are ordering this skin for when you checkout. As far as we know, supported BlackBerry models comprise the Blackberry Bold 9000, Blackberry Bold 9650, Blackberry Bold 9700, Blackberry Bold 9780, Blackberry Bold 9900, Blackberry Bold 9930, Blackberry Curve 8520, Blackberry Curve 8530, Blackberry Curve 8900, Blackberry Curve 9300, Blackberry Curve 9330, Blackberry Curve 9350, Blackberry Curve 9360, Blackberry Curve 9370, Blackberry Curve 9930, Blackberry Torch 9800, Blackberry Torch 9810, and the Blackberry Torch 9850.


Research In Motion pushing for sale to Samsung

Research In Motion is currently weighing every single option it can think of in an effort to reverse a negative trend that is approaching a boiling point for investors. Reports that RIM is currently in talks to license its software to other vendors are accurate according to our trusted sources, though we have been told that RIM is most likely leaning toward an outright sale of one or more divisions, or even the whole company. The front runner, we have been told by a trusted source with knowledge of the situation, is Samsung, which might be interested in RIM for a number of reasons.

One of the biggest assets RIM has is BlackBerry Messenger, and it would be a smart way for Samsung to differentiate itself inside the Android ecosystem. HTC has its Sense suite and it recently bought into Beats by Dr. Dre. Samsung could buy RIM, or a part of the company, and integrate not only BBM but also several other enterprise features into Android to make its devices an even bigger threat to competitors. This could also help Samsung better differentiate itself on the software and OS level, pulling more control into its hands and away from Google.

We have heard that Jim Balsillie is actively meeting with almost every company that might be interested in either a part or all of RIM, in addition to having talks about licensing. “Jim is going hard after Samsung,” said a source with knowledge of the negotiations. One of the reasons no deal has been struck, however, is that RIM’s co-CEOs are asking for way too much.

We have heard the company is looking for more than $10 billion for a full sale, likely somewhere in the $12 billion to $15 billion range, or between approximately $22.90 and $28.60 per share. RIM’s market capitalization currently sits at about $8.5 billion, though several analysts think that even $8.5 billion is more than an interested party would consider bidding at the moment.

Samsung declined to comment and a spokesperson for RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s certainly an interesting time at Research In Motion, and we’ll have much more on RIM in the coming days.

UPDATE: In a statement provided to Reuters Wednesday evening, a Samsung spokesman said the company is not interested in an outright purchase of Research In Motion. The spokesman did not address reports that Samsung is considering licensing RIM’s software, however, or purchasing a portion of RIM’s assets.


RIM reportedly prepping two new PlayBook tablets for 2012

Research In Motion is reportedly working on two new BlackBerry PlayBook tablets that are currently scheduled for release in 2012. BlackBerry watcher N4BB claims that while RIM had initially scrapped plans to produce a larger PlayBook tablet, the vendor now plans to release both a 10-inch and a new 7-inch tablet this year.

RIM’s new 7-inch model will feature embedded 3G connectivity when it launches in April according to the report, and the 10-inch BlackBerry tablet will reportedly include support for 4G LTE networks when it launches in December. The site also reiterates that RIM currently only has one BlackBerry 10 smartphone slated for 2012, which BGR exclusively reported earlier this month, and it states that at least two more low-end BlackBerry Curve models will launch this year as well.

WhatsApp for BlackBerry gets refreshed, here’s a first look

The most popular and successful multi-device communication platform is without question WhatsApp. More of a text messaging replacement than straight BlackBerry Messenger competitor, WhatsApp has been the number one service people rely on to communicate across iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices. We were sent a preview copy of the new version of WhatsApp for BlackBerry smartphones, our exclusive first look is after the break.To start, the entire app’s user interface has been refreshed, and it really looks strong. It’s clean, it’s sophisticated, and it’s one of the better interfaces on a BlackBerry product that we’ve seen. The app contains the same basic 5 tabs that you’re used to — chats, favorites, contacts, status, and settings — but it’s done in a way that feels natural and light. There’s a really intuitive context button on the right of the top tab bar, and it changes based on what tab you’re on. If you’re in the chats tab, the button changes to allow you to start a new chat, if you’re on the favorites tab, it changes to refresh favorites button, a search option on the contacts tab, add a status on the status tab, and add a friend on the settings tab.

I have noticed a couple little issues using this pre-release version on my BlackBerry 9900, though. The touch area for the tab buttons at the top of the interface are a tad small and I have tapped a contact’s name and started a chat instead of changing to the tab I aimed to switch to. Additionally, the rows that list your favorites or contacts are very narrow, and while that works fine for navigation with the trackpad, not the best possible spacing for touch selection.

All in all, the app gets a very welcome refresh, and the best multi-platform communication service gets even better. It should be available tomorrow directly from WhatsApp’s beta site, and in BlackBerry App World soon after.

”Our current UI for BlackBerry is something only an engineer could love. With this update, we’ve had a designer who has no knowledge of BlackBerry UI difficulties mock up new screens for every part of the app.  It has then been our engineering challenge to make those mockups reality across the wide range of BlackBerry devices available.  When we started, it looked very challenging to make these screens happen, said Michael Donohue, Senior BlackBerry Engineer of WhatsApp, This is truly a great UI for BlackBerry.”

”WhatsApp wants consumers to have the ability to message easily, intuitively to that degree we have overhauled the UI, making it simple, clean and easy to use. Our overall commitment to product quality and continued improvement to the BlackBerry is important to us, it is a great messaging device and we are fully committed to supporting the consumers who use it, said Jan Koum, CEO, WhatsApp.”


BlackBerry Bold 9900 Video Review

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the GSM version of the CDMA network BlackBerry Bold 9930 on Verizon and Sprint. Beyond the cell radio inside and carrier branding, the phones are identical.

T-Mobile’s version of RIM’s latest QWERTY flagship phone has 4G HSPA+, and you can really feel the difference vs. 3G on the Verizon and Sprint versions. Web pages download faster as do email attachments and applications, though App World remains mysteriously slower at download compared to its iOS and Android counterparts. Reception is excellent as is call quality: RIM knows how to make a phone that works well for voice calls. Read more

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