Details on the Touchscreen BlackBerry Thunder

By Kevin Michaluk on 13 May 2008 11:18 am EDT

BlackBerry Thunder Update: SEE REAL THUNDER IMAGE HERE

Disclaimer: the image is a photoshop. Cool bit of news here coming from the BG. While the BlackBerry Nation was in General Session at WES, he dropped some details on the BlackBerry codename "Thunder" touchscreen smartphone in the works.

Those of you who follow the CB blogs will remember I made mention a few weeks back of the BlackBerry Storm touchscreen in the works. Since then (if you're a CB podcast listener), you will have known we already talked about the BlackBerry Thunder name a couple of times and if you click into the CrackBerry forums the Touchscreen forum has referenced both the Storm and Thunder name for days now. Word on the WES floors is that the "Storm" is still the planned hybrid (which of course does contain a touchscreen) and the Thunder is the full-touch. Maybe we'll see some details on the Storm emerge in the days ahead. As for the BG's news on the "Thunder", here's the scoop:

The BlackBerry Thunder, as it is codenamed now, (all you "reporting" on it as the Storm are incorrect) will launch in Q3 of this year. It is a full touchscreen BlackBerry — no slide out keyboard — with only 4 physical keys. Those are the send / end phone keys, the BlackBerry menu key, and the back key. Here is the most interesting part, though: it will launch as a worldwide lifetime exclusive on Verizon and Vodafone! We’ve heard the unit will be a hybrid device with CDMA EV-DO Rev. C (for clarification, Rev C., known as UMB is practically dead. If the device will indeed launch with a 4G solution, our bet is on LTE), and GSM HSPA for traveling internationally. Verizon and Vodafone will have the same unit. Currently, the model number is the BlackBerry 9500, though it’s very early and that’s likely to change. This is HUGE for the Verizon lovers. For once they’ll get an exclusive device, but Verizon will have a sales quota for the device and if they don’t meet those numbers, we’ve heard the exclusivity will then dissolve and it’s over.

I have two thoughts on this... a) I can't wait to see REAL pics of this surface and b) I sure hope a couple of these babies come up for sale on eBay! Thanks for news Boy Genius, you've made many a Verizon customer extremely excited today.

Topics: News & Rumors

Reader comments

Details on the Touchscreen BlackBerry Thunder


If Verizon wants to kill the Iphone. They need to make the Blackberry Thunder able to have video Conferencing. Also they need to have better music down loads. I have been with Verizon since 94. Most of their devices if you download something it stays on that device, they need to open that process. Blackberry makes great devices. They need to study the Iphone and make their product better. If Blackberry was smart they would team up with Google Gphone,Cisco and knock the Iphone out of the water!

Picking chin off floor - WOW...Very interesting...although not impressed with only 2 lifetime carriers especially vodafone (don't want to change to them):(

Looking forward to seeing real pictures.

The concept of a user interface utilizing touchscreen technology is groundbreaking (makes for decent eye candy at least); especially when it came into fruition with the advent of the iphone...BUT; for anyone that says virtual typing on a touchscreen is anywhere close to being as comfortable, tactile and efficient as typing on a physical fooling themselves.

That difference; is the biggest dealbreaker for most. And to me, if you truly are a messenging troll; whether it comes to dishing out e-mails, texts, memos...a touchscreen device is NOT for you.

Even for you out there with an iphone, htc touch, other touch-interface devices; who say you guys are big on dishing out messages; and say that the touchscreen poses no real difference...are self-justifying your devices in that department. Just be honest about it.

I totally agree with you. My husband had an HTC Touch and did not lik it at all. He got a Blackberry Pearl instead.
The touch screens do not always work when you need them to!

Totally agree. There is still much to be improved in the area of touchscreen typing.
Nothing will beat a qwerty keyboard, small as it may be, in typing long e-mails.

Hope to see another great review Kevin! This at least gives Verizon customers something to celebrate about. I wonder what the UI will look like. Will it be close to the 9000 icons?

I would see the trackball as a potential pitfall if the OS is not ready for prime time to be used as a touch only device. I WON'T be returning to Verizon for this phone no thanks. I have my cash ready in hand today for the BB Bold.

This is HUGE! I don't think it has really sunken in with anyone yet. I've had an iPhone for almost a year.....yeah, I was one of those. I agree with all the comments about typing on a non-responsive touch screen. It will never be as fast. That aside, I'm also a died-in-the-wool Verizon customer. The iPhone was a little bit of a test for me between the two technologies and the two companies (AT&T and Verizon). In the end, there is no comparison. Verizon and their technologies simply work better. I travel full time and have checked out a lot of the U.S. in regards to service. If the Thunder proves to be what the early reports will be an iPhone killer. If typing on keys is a must, it sounds as if the Bold will be available to Verizon customers as well in the future.!

I have to say I disagree with you all together I have been a Verizon Wireless Customer since they were Airtouch and there technology has always been a decade behind other companies. Look at the Motorola Razr phones they took off all of the capabilities that were set on the phone to begin with and made it a piece of crap. I have had all sorts of phones of theres from samsung to motorola and each time the technology is so pathetic. I have an Iphone and I love it and I don't think this blackberry thunder will rival it at all. My husband has a blackberry pearl for size, and it is nice but men don't want to have a huge phone in there pockets that can get busted and that is why he didn't get an Iphone. I can guarantee you with a degree in business that Verizon's technology in phones is not going to turn the profit they are looking for. Apple's technology surpasses above and beyond all expectations.

i agree with you 100% that most carriers gut the phones meaning they lock out and disable features that the phone manufacturer built into the phones.this is like going to a car dealer and buy a new car but you fine out latter the the dealer took the jack out of the trunk so if you have a flat tire you have to call them to change the tire for you at extra payed for the features that the manufacturer built into the phone when you got it from the phone carrier.this nothing in the world but greed so the carrier can charge you more for some thing that you should have had to start with.the Motorola razr is a good example of this on the cdma carriers the web browser and email client are diable.

I definitely agree with you that Verizon devices seem to be decades behind the current technology. I myself, a Verizon customer have experienced this every time I went to upgrade my phone. However, Blackberry is equally as capable of producing an incredible phone as Apple. Both the iPhone and Thunder have different strengths - blackberry and it's task-management/messaging ability and iPhone with it's advanced music features and interface. Hopefully, Blackberry can master the media tools – because if it does, it’ll be more of a contender against the iPhone. Being a treo user, the Thunder will without a doubt be my next phone.

How do you know that men don't like big phones. Just because your husband doesn't like big phones doesn't mean that all other men don't. As far as I know your husband doesn't make up the general population. Also who would put their phone in their pockets when you have holsters. FYI all my male friends like bigger phones for the fact that the screen is larger, and the keyboard is larger enough for them to press the buttons with their large fingers. If you have nothing positive to say then just don't comment.

If you have nothing positive to say, then just don't comment.

I have taken the liberty of inserting a comma into the appropriate place for you. Anyway, your post speaks loads about who you are. Please take your hands off the keyboard and put them between your legs where they are better suited.

She was just making a statement about how, IN HER EXPERIENCE AND OPINION, men don't like to carry big things in their pockets. That's it. As far as positive comments, her post was giving her opinion. Your post was derived purely from the hate that you bear for the nerdy, inconsequential life that you have been dealt. I'm sorry for you.

Now everybody else FLAME ON!

Will it be memory expandable? Will the touchscreen offer any kind of bio-feedback? Will it have a camera and a removable battery? These are all things that could make it or break it considering that the Gen-2 iPhone is coming out.

Sounds great, but I hardly think I will get this phone since I just recieved the curve and have already used 2 early new every 2 "cards", plus anyway I will be getting the Bold, on which ever carrier has it, well to think about it I think by Q3 I will be ready for the Thunder LOL

Two things:
-Worldwide lifetime exclusivity? How awful! LIFETIME!
-Isn't Vodafone GSM? If so, that's a CDMA and a GSM version. Unlock anyone?

I know a lot of people want to see a touchscreen Blackberry. My question would be: Why?? It seems to me, if you want a touchscreen, get an iPhone. If you want a QWERTY keyboard, get a Blackberry. Despite the name, I doubt the 9500 is going to steal the iPhone's "Thunder." Personally, I'm much more excited over the Bold (although, I too, don't like the name). A hybrid may be interesting, but that seems a way off.

It's about time Verizon. As a longtime AT&T customer and store manager it:s nice to see Verizon start climbing the ranks!!!!!

Ive been with at&t sence AT&T wireless (before Cingular), and we have started to travle a lot out west and the Service SUCKS!
Well, im happy to say that THEY cut our phones off, and why you might ask?

Becasue of ROAMING to much! I went on there site and looked, and everywhere it has stripes on the map, is all roaming. And if you read waht it says, it says to much of partner usage may/can termainte(sp?) your contract.

Goobye AT&T, Hello Verizon!

And now that Sprint has been talking about selling there network, Verizon would be the first ones to buy it. Thats a lot of people to talk to for free... 134.6 or so million?

First of all, do NOT even get me started on sprint service. I don't even think verizon would consider buying them out due to how shitty the service it. And lastly, AT&T don't even have roaming sooo you might want to consider switching back before this or the Bold comes out.

It's nice to see Verizon getting something in a timely fashion but I'm not sure about not having a physical keyboard. I'll have to wait for the reviews on this one. As far as climbing the ranks goes, I'm not sure what that means since Verizon is well regarded for having the best network and support in the industry.
Is it the ranks of getting a cute new phone to appease its customers that want to be the first on the block to have a new device.

It looks good, but what will the price be? Will Verizon offer a good discount with the 2 year plan? Will it will be cheaper than the new iphone (AT&T is going to offer it with a $200 dollars discount). What kind of applications will it offer?

Now i could be wrong but i assume the storm will be the gsm equivalent to the thunder ( im hoping anyways).

I really wish it had a slide out keyboard though, although this device peaks my interest more than the rest of RIMs releases

You know, if you are a TRUE crackberry addict, it should never matter how your addiction is given to you.

Additionally, it does kind of bite to have to have a "lifetime" hold on something. There are far more GSM users than those CDMA users. RIM will may be missing the boat on that, but for me, I would switch to VZW to get one.

In start there where rumors that BlackBerry Bold 9000 will bring touch screen technology in BlackBerry devices but after the final release of BB 9000 in last week with AT&T proofs this statement wrong but now right after one week here is the most awaiting Smartphone is in rumors. Device shape is really cool and seems to the be the biggest hit from Verizon.

Why the need for a touch screen. Isn't what makes the Blackberry so great is the ability of one hand operation and the ease of use with a full keypad??? Not sure there is a need for a total touchscreen. Ever try typing on an iphone? Its a disaster.

I don’t understand why they would only let verizon and vodafone have all rights to this phone... isn’t the name of the game to make as much money as possible? If so, then don’t you think you should let all the other companies have rights to it also... like T-Mobile? :wink wink:
And i know its says if verizon doesnt sale enough that will change... but whats the point of it in the first place?

Let me tell you that exclutivity in the wireless market is only temporary. Unless a phone is made by the carrier it usually crosses. Look at the curve and the pearl. Each carriers model is "exclusive" to them. There's just a digit changed, and a minute feature. Atts have the navigator function, t mobiles has the fav 5. Being employed by att for the past couple years I've noticed that exclusive phones are bogus. Phone makers wanna make money, and there's no money in exclusive phones... Iphone aside...

Let me tell you that exclutivity in the wireless market is only temporary. Unless a phone is made by the carrier it usually crosses. Look at the curve and the pearl. Each carriers model is "exclusive" to them. There's just a digit changed, and a minute feature. Atts have the navigator function, t mobiles has the fav 5. Being employed by att for the past couple years I've noticed that exclusive phones are bogus. Phone makers wanna make money, and there's no money in exclusive phones... Iphone aside...

Im not sure whether to be happy or sad for the "thunder" that is releasing. Overall, im happy for the exclusive factor for verizon users but im a bit disappointed that its a full touchscreen phone. My reasoning is because of it not being email/text friendly *take a look at iphone. I wish i couldve had a physical keyboard present verse the onscreen keyboard. Dont get me wrong, the BB thunder is a nice/stylish phone but I'd like to rather pick up the 9000. I dont see it coming to verizon in the near future though.

Im a bit bummed about it being a full touchscreen. Def not text/email user friendly. I see many of its BB users being turned off about that feature but two each their own i guess. I guess im just used to the physical keyboard versus the on-screen feature.

All i can say for those looking to pick it up and test drive it, keep your other BB handy just incase you need to swap it out and sell it off.

Dammit you gotta let me know these things!!! You know what I dont even care cuz imma get it anyway!!! Im happy being on Verizon!!! Yay!!!

I dont know why you guys want a flip out pull out twist out or whatever kind of keyboard it is gonna make the phone bulky and old fashioned just like all the current blackberrys who can hold the iphone next to any current blackberry and say they like the BB better looks wise? I can type REALLY fast on my 8330(curve) I have had 4 BBs (8703,8130,8830,8330) and txt/email A LOT. My brother has an iphone and after a little getting used to I can actually type faster on his iphone. if you don't believe me search "fast iphone typing" on youtube. when you first look at the typing input method it seems like it SUCKS compared to full physical qwerty keyboard but give it a try for more than 30 seconds it really is better. if you make a mistake and press the wrong letter you can hold down the letter and drag it to the one you meant to type it is just a much better system.

so I think a full touch screen is the RIGHT move for blackberry because they really are great phones and extremely reliable

I've been in the wireless bisiness for 10 years and what "dairyman" said is true..keyboards may seem easier an more user friendly now but thay are (about to be)OLD- fashioned and the industry(not exclusively)is eventully going all TOUCH baby!!Even touch SCREENS will (soonier than you think) be old,..I'm talkn' full touch "projection-hologram" interface menus-now that's "clean"!..Not to mention, when voice recognition technology gets better, it will also be used more.

A lil piece of me died inside today, I have T-Mobile, and while I love my 8320, I was really looking forward to trading it in for the Thunder. Sigh...

This new phone is really exciting for Verizon customers (who haven't had the best selection of smart phones in recent years). However, although the device will probably be a workhorse and productivity-focused - what about other features? One of the most compelling reasons for individuals to buy the iPhone is that it also functions as an iPod - the ultimate all-in-one device - that allows consumers to purchase songs, media, and programs with ease via iTunes AND manage appointments, check e-mail, surf the web, etc. In order for the Blackberry Thunder to be success, it must be “multi-talented," to best adapt to an array of users. It also must also be sold at an affordable price, both the actual phone and the plan (not mimicking AT&T's ridiculous $30 data that lacks text messaging). Without these components, it’ll be too focused on a specific populace of users (corporate) and as a result, sales with not nearly match that of the iPhone, which attracts younger users. Regardless, as a Verizon customer myself, I’m elated to hear of this development and hope that the device combines the traditional blackberry business tools with innovative media features and a functional touch screen at an affordable price.

Well said. As a long-time Verizon customer I am also excited about the release of the Thunder and hoping for killer media capabilities that rival or at least match those of the iPhone. Why don't I get an iPhone? Honestly, I don't WANT to switch carriers. My service has been excellent with Verizon-almost NEVER a dropped call and very few patches of no service driving from Missouri to New Mexico.
I'm in the music BUSINESS which makes the business caps of the Blackberry combined with media caps of the iPhone very useful in my world.

As far as the touch screen, as I have said before- if you don't like it, don't buy it. There are plenty of other BlackBerries that ARE right for you. :)

As a verizon customer, I am still trying recover from the news. Is Verizon actually going to get a phone exclusively?! FINALLY! It always seems that Verizon gets stuck with crappy deals, meaning crappy, over-priced, phones usually, years after the device is released. I agree with Bob though, music is a must anymore.

This is awesome. Finally, a device from Verizon that looks promising amidst the release of AT&T phones with groundbreaking technology. Hopefully, this blackberry will really bring it on against the iPhone - if only its release date was July instead of September. One thing Apple surely has is brand-recognition and hype - you don't even hear about RIM's release events...

There is no way this phone can compete with the upcoming 3G Iphone's price and features. For those who have never used a touch screen keyboard, you don't know what you are missing. I have used qwerty keypads in the past and I could say I type 3 times faster on Iphone touch screen keypad. Just give it a try, if your bright you'll get the hang of it in about an hour.

The Thunder will definitely be able to compete with the upcoming release of the 3G Iphone - I mean, seriously, the pricing and features aren't that great. My guess is that Verizon will offer a separate price plan for the blackberry to increase sales, and that it will be loaded with features capable of beating any device offered by AT&T. Plus, everyone knows that Verizon's network is awesome - better than AT&T - but without the extreme corporate greed mentality.

I wish this Thunder had slide up keyboard(like Sony X-Peria). As much as I love this concept of thunder, but I'm not sure if I can use touch screen for typing all the time. I guess I'm going to have to test it out.

I have an Alltel HTC 6800 and have been waiting for BlackBerry to come out with a touch screen. This is on my to buy list.. The HTC is a OK phone. But it has windows on it. It locks up alot. Alltel and Verizon are to be one soon. ya Thank You BlackBerry..