updated 01:25 pm EDT, Sun September 11, 2011
BlackBerry 9980 prototype or concept shows
A BlackBerry design once thought to be fake has resurfaced in what could be hints of either a discarded prototype or a third-party overhaul. Referred to as a "9980," the phone seen in Beijing has a chiseled, mostly metal look that recalls Porsche Design's work. Although completely unlike any existing BlackBerry, the unit seen at MaxPDA boots the OS (either BlackBerry 6 or 7) and has many of the same parts, down to the official battery from the Bold 9900 and the overall layout of ports, cameras, and sensors.
That it's an officially sanctioned phone has been cast into doubt by the "proceeding" label on the top of the phone. BlackBerry phones do run on China Mobile, although the 9980 is running on EDGE (2G) and clearly isn't adapted to the TD-SCDMA the carrier uses for 3G.
The source of the shots claimed on Sunday that the phone will ultimately ship and has already been sold in three raw prototypes, but that it will be a limited luxury edition that will get diamond trim. Still unsaid to Engadget is whether or not it's officially blessed by RIM or if it's an extensive modification. Its most likely purpose is as a third-party brand's attempt to cater to the rapidly growing audience for upscale goods in China.
RIM hasn't commented on its possible involvement. [via CrackBerry]