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10/4/2012
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RIM Preps Hero Smartphone Codenamed 'Aristo'

Research In Motion's first BlackBerry 10 smartphones need stellar designs to help get the platform off the ground. The Aristo might be such a device.

RIM can't afford to make any mistakes with the first wave of BlackBerry 10 smartphones. If the hardware isn't appealing to consumers, the platform itself might not stand a chance. Details leaked this week about a smartphone codenamed Aristo that shows that RIM is in fact serious about bringing a hero device to the market.

An internal Research In Motion slide contains all the specifications of the Aristo, though no photos of the device. Based on the specs, the Aristo could be the BB10 smartphone to rule them all.

The Aristo (which is Greek for "the best" according to RapidBerry.net) will be based on Qualcomm's Krait platform, which includes a quad-core processor rated at 1.5-GHz per core mated to 2 GB of RAM. The device will have 16 GB of built-in storage and a microSD slot for additional storage.

Radio support for the North American market looks pretty good. It'll have quad-band GSM/EDGE radios, WCDMA in the 850/1800/2100 bands, and LTE in the 700/850/1700/1900 MHz bands. What does that mean? It'll be a killer 3G/4G device for T-Mobile USA and AT&T. The device will ship with different radio support for other markets. Of course, it will also include GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and 2.5-GHz/5-GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi.

[ Check out RIM's smartphone competition. See Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour. ]

The display will measure a healthy 4.65 inches and boast a resolution of 1280 x 720p with a 16:9 aspect ratio. In other words, RIM got the memo about what people want in a smartphone display. It will use on-cell touch active-matrix light-emitting diode (AMOLED) technology from Samsung.

The Aristo's camera rates 8 megapixels and can capture 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. The user-facing camera rates 2 megapixels and can capture 720p HD video for good-looking video chats.

Worried about size? Don't be. If the leaked specs are to be believed, the Aristo may be one of the thinnest BlackBerrys yet at 8.85 mm. Despite the slim profile, it will pack a massive 2800-mAh battery, too.

Whether or not the details of the Aristo are all accurate, the mere existence of a spec sheet such as this from RIM is a good sign. RIM's BB6 and BB7 devices are solid enterprise messaging machines, but don't offer the same appeal that today's leading flagship devices do. RIM has always built solid hardware, but has also been trapped in conservative design language and strictures regarding battery life.

Most consumers now use their smartphones as the electronic equivalent of the Leatherman. Smartphones have become gaming devices, cameras, media players, and social networking hubs in addition to email machines.

A device such as the Aristo could get consumers excited enough about BlackBerry again to give the new hardware--and new platform--a shot.

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