updated 07:25 pm EST, Tue January 31, 2012
RIM-made BlackBerry London render escapes
RIM's BlackBerry London has been refined in looks ahead of what could be an attempt to return to the US in force. New leaks to CrackBerry have the render of the first BlackBerry 10 phone's expected finished look making it considerably more refined than the very angular, Porsche Design-like look of a dummy unit. A presumably mock screenshot also points to a more refined media player than either on BlackBerry 7 or on the PlayBook.
What may be more important is an expanded launch strategy, sources argued. The London might be a UK- or Europe-specific model where two variants previously only hinted at, the Laguna and Lisbon, would be meant to bring the phone to AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon in short order. While speculative, it's possible the US variants would ship to the US first.
Reflecting the importance is a hint that RIM may change entire chipsets to make sure US carriers get support. A 1.5GHz TI OMAP5 and a similarly clocked Qualcomm Snapdragon chip are supposedly both in testing. Qualcomm might be meant to get CDMA into the chipset where TI tends to favor GSM, although both were already expected to carry 4G LTE.
While RIM is unlikely to confirm the rumors before the device is ready, the multi-carrier strategy and hardware changes would show the importance of the London. It's expected to be the cornerstone of its 2012 strategy and may only come in the late summer or early fall, leaving a wide gap in releases between now and then. Having multiple carriers onboard for the same device would help make up for lost time effectively handed over to Apple and Google.