updated 05:40 pm EDT, Sun July 13, 2008
BBerry Thunder Real Photos
Research in Motion's BlackBerry Thunder touchscreen phone has at last been shown in real-world photography, courtesy of a leak by Crackberry. The device is identical to user guide drawings and other escaped images and is dominated by its touch display; four buttons underneath let RIM hide many extra software functions in menus rather than having to expose them with always-on visible buttons, as with the iPhone. The design should allow the Canadian company to implement its first touch interface without alienating most existing users.
The Thunder's keyboard has also been spotted in the leak and reveals a very different approach to typing than with the iPhone. Both devices can automatically adjust to landscape mode in certain cases, but the BlackBerry will change the layout itself to ensure that keys always remain large. In landscape mode, the device has access to a traditional QWERTY keyboard, while a vertical mode switches to RIM's SureType scheme borrowed from the BlackBerry Pearl, which puts two letters on each key .
Earlier reports have also suggested the Thunder will have localized haptic feedback that vibrates the screen near the point at which the user types, simulating a physical button push.
Despite the confirmation of the new touch BlackBerry as a real device, few other pieces of information have been supported by the leak, although it's widely understood that the Thunder will support 3G calls and data on both CDMA and GSM phone networks, advanced media playback, and a significantly new interface. A launch isn't expected until late in the year.