updated 11:30 am EDT, Mon July 19, 2010
New BlackBerry may already have iPhone 4 problem
RIM may have suffered an unintentional humbling today through a set of videos (available below) demoing the yet-to-be-launched BlackBerry 9800. While showing off the new WebKit and media browsers, clips given to Salomondrin has shown what appears to be the "death grip" symptom in action: while held in certain positions, the phone drops to one or two bars. The phone is a pre-release model but is using what should be the final design.
If real would be a potential blow to RIM, which just this weekend had insisted it didn't have reception problems like those manifested in the iPhone 4. In the demo, the phone shows significant changes regardless of how it's held.
Regardless of wireless performance, the videos show significant improvements through BlackBerry OS 6. The WebKit browser is not only much faster and more accurate than the slow existing browser in OS 5 but outperforms the previous benchmark, Apple's Safari. A run-through of the Acid3 test, which includes HTML5 rendering, gives the phone a total score of 209 where the iPhone with iOS 4 gets 192. Android 2.1 on an HTC Droid Incredible gets just 151; Android 2.2 should improve this as it uses more of the rendering engine from Chrome on the desktop.
More modest are RIM's improvements to the media player, which has been better-optimized for touch without having to use the click-down SurePress screen. OS 6 does add DivX support for fans of the format.
Barring delays, RIM is expected to ship the BlackBerry 9800 in August or September and to make it an AT&T exclusive for at least the short term.