A Closer Look at the NFC antenna battery door on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 (and reasoning why the new Torches do not have NFC)

BlackBerry Bold Battery Door
By Kevin Michaluk on 4 Aug 2011 11:18 am EDT

Of the new BlackBerry 7 devices announced to date, the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 is the first and only one to offer NFC support. I did ask around at the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night as to why NFC didn't also make an appearance in the Torch 9810, 9850, 9860, and while I didn't get a 100% straight answer, between the partial answers and a closer look at the battery door on the Bold 9900, I feel there's an explanation here.

Back at BlackBerry World, when we first went hands-on with the BlackBerry Bold 9900, we weren't allowed to take off the device's battery door. It turns out there's more to the new Bold's battery door than just good looks. As you can see in the picture above, the Bold 9900's battery door actually contains the NFC antenna. When you clip the battery door onto the 9900, the antenna leads connect back to internal circuitry. Cool stuff. And not only does the Bold 9900's battery door look cool and weigh next to nothing, but the carbon weave glass also allows for the signals (both radio and NFC) to pass through easily. 

So when it comes back to the new Torches not having NFC, I think part of the explanation here is simply that to enable NFC you need to ensure the overall hardware design supports it (not just the chipset/software) and that likely the 9810 and 9850/9860 designs were finalized without considertion for this (or it was considered, but the ultimate design they wanted to go with didn't allow for a well-placed NFC antenna and/or thin battery door without doing some structural redesign). You need to be able to get the NFC antenna in a good place where it's going to work. In other words, RIM could have put NFC into the Torch 9850/9860, but it would have meant altering the shape of the device to get it all working 100%, which they didn't want to do with these devices, especially on a device like the 9850/9860 where you can tell design and feel are paramount. 

Historically RIM has often rolled out new features (WiFi, GPS, Camera, etc.) only on one device model first, so putting it only on one of the new BB7 devices announced isn't a total surprise. And if they are going to put it on one device first, it makes sense RIM would first introduce it on the BlackBerry Bold. Though we were told all future devices will have NFC. But with NFC really still in its infancy, I don't think it's that big of a deal not to have it on the Torch 9810 or Torch 9850/9860. 

What do you all think? It is a huge deal that the new Torches don't have NFC? Or not that big of a deal?? Let us know in the comments. And PS. If you read this post and don't know what NFC is, click here.

Reader comments

A Closer Look at the NFC antenna battery door on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 (and reasoning why the new Torches do not have NFC)


do you have something to say besides "first"?

Well I hope the first batch of QNX phones next year have NFC and not just on 1 model.

omg, who invented that stupid hype for people that are thinking they are at the top of the world because their first, shut up you fucking troll.

I don't agree, I think it's because they want to make the 9900 the premium device of the line and the two torches are mid-range. NFC is probably pretty expensive to add.

yes and no...

these devices are all on the same hardware platform, so i dont think there's really much of a different cost in adding it in (maybe just the antenna component.. but once it's on the chipset and the software support is there, it should all be the same).

i think you're right that positioning it on the bold first and considering it premium makes sense. but i do think you'll see this feature hit all bbs.  remember some of the leaks going back to early this year that showed even the curves would get NFC? so i think it'll come to everything high and low end... so not sure the premium reason will hold for long. 

Why are there some people here on CB trying to start a "Torch is mid-range" meme? The 9900 is no more or less powerful than the 9810. Aside from the hardware differences -- the Torch has a bigger screen, the 9900 has a bigger keyboard -- they're both the same. NFC on the 9900 does not convert it to a "premium" phone (or make the Torch "mid-range"), particularly because 99% of the people with an NFC-equipped device have nothing to use it with right now.

I'm not trying to start a 'torch is mid-range' meme (even though the word meme does not apply at all). I only got the idea because I was watching a video walkthrough from yesterday in london and those were the exact words the Blackberry employee said. Not to mention, the Torches have plastic screens (the 9850, at least) and no metal body, and obviously no NFC.

right...the premium reason may not hold up, and another reason being is because the 9900/9930 may not be true 4G/LTE.
With that Verizon leak that shows the new Curve to be a 4G Smartphone, how could the new Bold be considered a completely PREMIUM device, without being 4G/LTE enabled??
"Premium reason" is not the case here with the whole NFC thing

NFC I think is still very new, and like you said in your article, I don't think it will be a huge deal these phones not having it. Most of us (including me) are not even fully clear on what and how nfc works. Where we can use it etc. I would imagine that once it is as common as the debit card, having it on your phone will be important. As for me, I am glad that the 9900 is my form factor of choice and that I will be "future" ready...

meh either way with the application of nfc in the general world minimal its a none issue for now

I agree that you hit the nail on WHY, but disagree on how big a deal this is. It is a huge deal, and the only reason I haven't jumped ship to an android phone.

The only vendors out there now that can do this are paypass (you guys know what that is right?) and of course RIM. Coming next are your stupid emplyee badges going NFC, and P2P payments (direct by VISA and MC) and google wallet already exist. SO no more wallet, no more cards, and maybe one day you wont even need your drivers license.

Then we get the hacker community, built in RFID readers, fun!

Once again, we'll be limited with app offerings because of we're not android, but perhaps being first will help us (besides tha monolithic android phone with no keyboard) the 9900 is first(ish).

It will make Seidio oversize doors and batteries either a non starter or way more $$$

P S. You home now Kevin? Looking forward to info from last night.

packing up right now from hotel room and heading to airport.  will keep the videos going to tonight.  there's a torch 9810 walk through on our youtube channel i haven't posted yet youtube.com/crackberrydotcom

hotel internet is throttled on uploads.. took all night just to get two vids up.

more coming later today, promise! 


I think that since the first Torch is so lacking in everything except design - RIM could have and should have put eveerything on the 9810.

I do understand that RIM's purpose is to make money though. So my Torch after next will have it all - I hope.

It's not really a big deal that NFC is not on the 9810 - but I wish it was on there because I always want my devices to be all they can be out of the box and not on the next device or 2 that I'll have to buy.


I'm very upset with this I really wanted NFC on my Torch and for them to only put it in one phone, come on. They could have done it., and should have done it across the board. It would be a new feature BlackBerrys have and now no its just a feature on one phone. I'm still def getting the Torch but I would really like the NFC, I guess ill just ave to wait for my QNX phone for that.

No big. Don't have a need for it now. Once NFC becomes more popular, I'm sure new Berrys will be out by then.

As someone who has extensive use of NFC-enabled phones from Asia and had general excitement for the tech coming this way across the pond, I gotta say that I'm kinda miffed that they only chose one device to place it in. RIM really could have set the bar, honestly. Android, I believe, only has one or two devices with the tech (namely, the Nexus S), and Apple is (presumedly) nowhere near using it, if the abundance of credit card reader and app attachments are any indication.

You could say that it's not a big deal, but for those like me, I would like to be "future-ready" in situations like this. Better to have the tech now and have little function for it so that once the tech flourishes, you are good to go. Plus with what I've seen RIM attempting to use NFC for (in addition to the possible adaption or emulation of Google Wallet), you'd think they'd at least tried to get it on all their phones like they said they were.

But I digress. The Bold DOES take precedent over any other device in their lineup, even when majority of the consumer market prefers the full touchscreen format.

SS >__>

Of course, to a certain extent, RIM not putting NFC in the format that "the majority of the consumer market prefers", means that they are actually providing new features to their well established niche first.

I wonder if a hard case/holster would mess up the signal. Considering the carbon weave (which I don't really care for aesthetically) 'helps' with the signal.

perhaps the reason they were showcasing 9900 accessories in the glass case by the entrance? these may be the first generation of cases that are NFC compliant...made by BlackBerry (no doubt!) and likely at a reasonable price (let's hope).

appearing soon on shopcrackberry.com ---- YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It would have been better if all the BB7 devices have NFC, so when you make a decision on which device to get, you won't feel like ur missing out on features, but I can see that since NFC is not so popular yet it will not make a difference.

Personally, I don't plan to buy any of the BB7 phones, mainly because if RIM is ontrack with their QNX phones, they might all have NFC and I would be eligible for a hardware upgrade then and won't have to pay full price for the device.

While I'm not worried too much about NFC, it is a little upsetting that as you said Kevin, RIM said all new devices will have NFC, and here they are not delivering on their word again. They need to either deliver on what they say, or not make statements that they can't deliver on. They seem to be getting worse and worse about this.

The fact that ONLY the 9900 has it kind of kills your BS excuse for Balsillie. No other devices have it, not "many" and not "most". NONE. As in, he lied...Again...

Exactly! I'm not worried about NFC at this point, but I'm VERY worried about the fact that RIM continues to make strong statements that turn out to be "lies". They said, in no uncertain terms, that all OS 7 models would have it. They also said that the delays on OS 7 devices were from "technical acceptance", but it's been widely reported that faulty hardware was to blame. They're really showing a pattern of outright lies and it's genuinely becoming troubling.

And where are the devices? So far, all we've heard about the 9850/9860 in the US is Fall, which translates to November! This is supposed to be the "biggest launch in RIM's history", but several more months of waiting isn't this launch at all! It's a separate, future launch!!

NFC is not a big deal to me at this point. Harder to understand is why only 4GB on the Torch 9850/60 versus 8GB on the Bold. That won't keep me from getting one necessarily, as I'm really doing fine with the memory on the Storm2, but it is odd.

I was wondering the EXACT same thing.. I mean I guess the only explination is it being a flagship device, but more importantly the app size/program sizes of any NFC stuff.. I mean what other reason would there be?

Most likely because the Torch 9810 and 9850 were further along in development and were delayed only when they decided to go with the 1.2 Ghz chips. The 9900 was likely designed from the start to incorporate NFC.

one of my customers wants to replace barcodes by NFC tags, but uses bold's and Torch's - so at the moment we cannot switch.

Your customer is cool. My company just brought in bar code handhelds made by Motorola running WinMo 6.1. It's so slow.

NFC payment methods are going to take some time before they are widespread so it's not very important. It's just one of those features that people want only because it's new, they really don't know what they will use it for.

RIM is looking at putting NFC in use for their secure access business and companies will need to do trials before they make a switch. It will take a year or so for trials of that nature to complete and by then, RIM will have had time to work on redesigns and improving NFC for the rest of their line-up.

Still, that shouldn't stop them from being able to place the tech in their phones and simply limit or outright lock the feature until the software is ready for primetime. I mean, look at the Nexus S. It released WELL before the concept of Google Wallet made itself prevalent.

I dunno, maybe it's the fact that they placed the tech in a phone format I have no interest or prefer.

SS -___-

Even if NFC is not a big deal right now, it will be before RIM launches their next batch of phones next summer. There is really no excuse not to have this on the 9810, 9850, and 9860.

Having NFC capabilities on both Torches would be nice but lets be honest here, its something RIM can boast later on about specifically when these QNX powered devices come to the forefront and they can say "hey all of our handsets has it" but unsurprisingly I'm not surprised RIM's flagship handset only obtains it. Its in a small class of handsets NOW universally that do have NFC technolgy. But ultimately I believe in the long run manufactuers will start making this available in handsets and then AGAIN RIM will be behind, especially when iPhone 5 bandwagon starts to come and overpopulate considering it will have the NFC capabilities as well. I just hope they're beginning a mass exodus on this ONX thing in Waterloo.

Its my understanding most carry their phones for 3 years before they switch. In tech time, 3 years is huge. NFC may not seem like your giving up much now, but a year from now - who knows. You might be sad to carry the phone for 2 more years missing out on the benefits. They said the phones would have it, they should have followed through.

All I can say is that if more BBs and phones don't come with NFC, the NFC technology will be DEAD by the end of 2012 or so... Look at successful marketing at Apple Inc. Apple marked out "made for iPod" or "made for iPhone" and now it is catching like wild fire and many different brands and companies lining up to make Apple compatible devices.

If ALL BlackBerries don't have NFC, I think NFC on mobile phones will end up as a failed technology soon.

Sort of what I was worried about too. You have to ensure compatibility. Nobody is going to install payment terminals in their stores that only work with one model of phone...

I don't know anything about NFC beyond what was on the Wikipedia link, so I'm asking:

1. Is NFC a technology that will only be utilised by mobile phones?

2. Or is it more like GPS (as a poor example) where it will be utilised by many different types of devices.

Because if it's 1) then it's a case of the NFC tech needing to 'sell' to the phone manufacturers.

If it's 2) then the phone manufacturers will have no choice but to get on board.

All a bit chicken and egg, but at this stage do we know which one's which?

I understand the technology but just don't today see a lot of uses of it at least here in Dallas. But I plan to get a 9300 so I guess I'm covered if Verizon ever releases the phone!

This is just like the 3G / 4G arguments, Lot's of folks wanted a 4G phone when they first came out, but there were limited, albeit increasing, places where it did any good. NFC is the same. If, and when, it becomes more widespread the capability will be made available on more units.

I wonder with the 9900/9930 being RIMS flagship phone leading into the future and having NFC and upgraded specs, will the 9900/9930 be software upgradeable to QNX, because I definitely dont see RIM improving on the specs even higher then what there about to release this month. and getting the 9900/9930 locks alot of people down for 2 more years. so it doesnt make sense not to have the software upgradeable. or there not on track at all to release QNX smartphones early 2011 and more like a year from today. I wish RIM would give its fan base some answers because info is scattered and all over the place.

just would hate to buy this and then 5 - 6 mos later QNX is here and front facing cameras are added, and 8mp cameras are on the hardware, and android market is implemented. lol. I'd be pissed!

That's an interesting point you make that no one else seems to have considered (or maybe this is not the thread for it)...

What sort of phone will BB bring out to release the QNX OS? Logic says there will have to be improvements in hardware because otherwise they'd just release the OS and not a new phone.

its a bit chumpish to further fragment an already heavily fragmented eco system. it also gives the impression that the torches are only mid range.

In what ways are these phones fragmented from one another in a way that does not equal a clear choice to the consumer?

No point in having overlap between devices. This seems like a pretty elegant line up to me, I reckon BlackBerry should stop right here and forget about the Curve.

@Kevin crackberry.com
How is the sound quality. The original Bold 9000 had some amazing speakers. You can hear folks very clearly in loud setting. However if you use an IPHONE and put your finger or palm covering the bottom, the sound gets muffled down and sound only comes from 1 side.

That set up doesnt look very sturdy to me it looks as if it is either going to get worn out or come off one day when you open the battery door. How much of a pain is this going to be for those of us that want to go for the extended battery...not so easy to replace that battery door anymore.