back to article Blackberry QNX phone details leaked

Images and specifications for the first Blackberry running QNX have surfaced, but if these are accurate then the Blackberry Colt is underpowered, incompatible and doomed from the start. The details come from the Boy Genius Report blog, which claims inside information and a photoshopped image of the handset. That information …


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  1. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Oh dear

    So they can't even port their own software over to their phone?

    Honestly, they really don't have a bright future. Perhaps the experts in BES were laid off?

  2. MikeyD85

    C'mon RIM

    Stop engineering yourself in to a bigger mess than you're already in!

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    QNX doesn't need much power as long as it doesn't need to support resource intensive subsystems like Java a single core should be fine. QNX has always excelled at multitasking. Anyway, unlikely to matter much in such a small form factor device which is focussed on messaging.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I might be an old fuddy duddy

    But seriously, quad core, in a phone? I know phones do a lot more these days (I own a smartphone) but even though I can get 2 days on a single charge on my HTC Mozart with fairly regular usage, my first priority would be greater energy efficiency and better battery life.

    I'd like to think in 18 months when my contract is up that there's a smartphone that can last 5 days on a single charge.

    1. IanPotter

      You'll be lucky

      The success of the current "charge every day" phones seems to have convinced the manufacturers that we're happy with that and so their concentrating on upping the performance while not letting battery life get any lower.

      The obvious exception was Symbian, and look where that is now...

    2. Anonymous Coward


      My HTC Sensation comfortably lasts a day on a charge, and I'm fine with that, I come home, go to bed and plug it in on my bedside table overnight... oh the horror of having to do that, I'm surprised it hasn't driven me to suicide or bankrupted me with the insane use of a few watts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But if you're on the road

        The use of charging everynight assumes you're someone who never is away from a mains socket at night. However I enjoy outdoor pursuits and travelling where the Smartphone (stowed away mind) could be very useful, compass, maps etc. However, due to the poor battery life, I have a Nokia 1800 for my phone needs, lasts 2 weeks on one charge!

      2. Chris Parsons

        Why do I need a title to reply to a post?


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: I might be an old fuddy duddy

      I completely agree if it's simply a race to make the phones faster / higher spec'd and sod the battery life, but I was under the impression that it was possible to actually improve power consumption with multiple cores (e.g. 2x600Mhz vs 1x1.2GHz), as entire cores can be disabled when not in use, etc. That doesn't seem to be what's happening at the moment, but hopefully common sense will kick in.

    4. Shonko Kid

      " my first priority would be greater energy efficiency and better battery life."

      As it happens multi core does that.

      Thanks to the magic of physics, running 1 core at 1GHz uses more power than running 2 at 500MHz. Of course that doesn't stop developers from thinking 'multi-core == free lunch' and making the software even more bloated and cycle hungry, so you end up having to run both cores at 1GHz.

    5. Joe Montana

      Quad core...

      One advantage of quad core, is that 3 of the cores can spend 99% of their life turned off to save battery life but unlike a lower spec cpu, can still perform if necessary.

      Someone else made a good point tho, android is saddled with an interpreted runtime and wouldn't need such resources if it ran compiled native code... Also, if they used native code instead of java, oracle wouldn't be suing them right now.

      As for a one day battery life, most people seem to consider charging every day perfectly acceptable. You have to sleep sometime, so why not just put the phone on charge as you sleep?

      1. Manu T

        RE: Quad core...

        "One advantage of quad core, is that 3 of the cores can spend 99% of their life turned off to save battery life but unlike a lower spec cpu, can still perform if necessary."

        Then why use a quad core cpu at all? Instead of using a quad core at 600MHz and shutdown 3 cores, just use a single core 600MHz cpu. This is cheaper and apparantly sufficient enough for most of the work. I can only think of webbrowsing that'll really benefit from more performance and offcourse games (not that zuma or bejeweled, which are the only playable games on a touch screen phone anyway, really benefit from more performance).

        I think that's what Nokia tries to prove with their current 680MHz S^3 phones. They last 2 days and are powerfull enough to record 720p, navigation, browse the web, playback divx/xvid movies with subtitles and do all the stuff you do on any other smartphone.

        Perhaps Nokia's RD isn't that stupid after all.

  5. DrXym

    Bu-bu-but I thought it was for security

    I think it was fairly obvious that the claims that there were no email clients on the tablet "for security" was complete nonsense. More likely their software is monolithic piece of crap developed over 10 years, touched by countless hands, fragile, arcane, with business & UI logic inextricably linked together and simply just very hard to port from one disparate OS to another.

    They'll get there eventually but it was such a hugely silly situation to find themselves in.

  6. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

    Why do you need a dual core anyway?

    This "throw another core at it" nonsense is the result of Android phone makers no longer having control over their OS. Performance sucks? Google not doing anything about it? What other option do you have..

    iPhone4 has a middling CPU spec by market standards, but Apple make intelligent use of the hardware they've got to give it the most fluid user experiences. All on "only" one core.

    Similarly, Nokia's new N9 is also "only" a single core platform, but it's still slicker than dual-core Android phones. Shows what you can do when you don't cripple a Linux kernel with an interpreted runtime; and QNX is (still) a more efficient embedded OS than Linux.

    I'm a bit tired of tech "journalists" looking over a specsheet and pronouncing that something is "underpowered" because the number is smaller.

  7. Shonko Kid

    "is underpowered, incompatible and doomed from the start"

    Copying Nokia's strategy then?

    ".. needs something remarkable to regain trust in its brand, and an incompatible and underpowered handset isn't going to deliver that"


  8. Mage Silver badge

    QNX is not Linux

    Linux is a bloated copy/clone of 1976 UNIX. Kernel release (only) about the same time as entire NT 3.1 OS release in 1993.

    Phones work best with a RTOS, unless you have a 2nd CPU to run the Phone stack. QNX is a RTOS, Standard Linux is not a RTOS, though it's been kludged.

    Linux is a Macro Kernel OS. QNX is not UNIX like, no matter what Wikipedia claims, unless you think NT3.1 or Minix are "UNIX" like.

    NT had "POSIX" subsytem for years like QNX has, that doesn't make it UNIX like.

    QNX is *REALLY* old, dating from 1988, but unlike Linux is a complete design for embedded systems and was really only used for Industrial Controllers, SCSI subsystems and automotive systems till RIM bought it.

    Is it a good idea for a phone? I don't know.

    Does it need the latest and greatest CPU? No. It likely needs as little or less than Symbian, much less CPU than Linux + Java, (Or Android Davik which is really Linux + Java).

    Though X windows was ported to QNX somewhile ago, QNX is more known for NOT having a GUI. RIM has their work cutout. They might have been better going for Meego, Windows phone 7 or Android.

    1. Rodrigo Valenzuela


      I agree with that. QNX is not Linux, but QNX made a graphical interface for their OS.

      If I remember correctly, QNX runs on a "nanokernel", and it is really good at that.

      I have a clear memory of a demo which was downloadable from QNX web site several years ago.

      That demo did the following:

      - provided a bootable OS

      - a graphical interface (I believe it was called "photon")

      - some basic programs, like a calculator and a plain text editor

      - worked on several and very different kinds of PCs, including a "Virtual PC" emulator on a Mac

      - had a usable internet browser (for that time, this was at the end of the 90s)

      - it was *fast*

      And... all of this was comfortable installed, with space to spare, in a 1.4 Mb floppy disk (remember those).

      I believe if RIM can understand the philosophy of QNX, they will be able to come out with great products. On the other hand, if they try to bloat, the will end failing miserably.


    2. DrXym


      Linux has real time extensions you know so assuming they were necessary they are there to be used. As for bloat, the kernel is as large as the number of modules you link into it. Given that Linux is found more often than not on random set top boxes, tvs, blu ray players etc., as well as smart phones, firewalls, NASs, it's certainly a big deal.

      QNX is certainly a nice OS but that doesn't mean a phone built over the top of it is any better than what already exists. I used to hear the stupid argument from Linux-heads about PDAs, how PalmOS or Windows CE stunk, about how we should all be using Linux but the reality is that it's not the kernel that matters but the user experience.

      Android phones aren't selling because Linux is in there somewhere. They're selling because they're fully functional phones with a nice user interface.

      If Blackberry wants to regain its thunder it has to remember that. No one gives a crap about the kernel if the GUI is deficient. Fix the GUI and it could be running on the tears of kittens for all anyone cares.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    GIven the product isnt out then there will be a few area's still needing work - funny that. That said, whilst the whole single core thing is utterly fine as QNX isn't a slow bloat OS like most, the aspect that BES hasn't been ported but M$ active sync has is utterly and completely lamentable and indicative of what realy bad managment/HR there is there. Seriously, unable to port your own protocol and able to port a competitors - seriously are yoru dev's in bed with M$ grooming you for some borging as I can see no other explanation - unless there own development tools are soo bad they cant even wrtie there own apps for there own phones let alone allow others to do it. But the aspect that the BES stack aint ported onto a phone you designed and a OS you own and you can get BB connect that does the BES stack for many competitor phones - seriously if you were to fire all your dev's and recruit new people the business impact would be no different to were you are now and if thats the case you realy have some serious questions that you realy should be asking and answearing fast.

  10. Gil Grissum

    Fix it

    They need to definitely get an e-mail client onto the Playbook as well as their first QNX phone. E-mail and security are the two strengths of the Blackberry. BES integration is essential. They need to either lose one or both of their CO-CEO's because neither is doing the job of catching RIM up to everyone else.

    Regarding dual core, RIM is going to at least have to keep up with the others in order to stay relevant. If the iPhone goes Dual Core and RIM doesn't, they will definitely get left behind, but Single core with no BES integration is the death knell for RIM.

  11. uhuznaa


    It's not the OS itself that sucks power, it's the various subsystems. And saving power comes not from chosing the right OS, it comes from having decent power-management, which means integration of OS and hardware down to a level where you can throttle down or switch off every little bit of hardware that is not needed at a given moment. In phones and tablets that can mean running the radios independently from the actual CPU and waking up the system from low-power states only if the network buffers have filled up and there's actually a chunk of data to process.

    All this is really hard to achieve, you need tight and deep integration of soft- and hardware development and you need engineers knowing about all the thousands of little tricks and strategies to save a microampere here and another there. This is nothing you put on its feet in a few months. "Porting to QNX" is the easiest part here.

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