It was something of a black eye for BlackBerry when it came out that Sprint wouldn’t be carrying the all-touch Z10 BB10 smartphone. A huge relaunch, integral to the company’s future success, and one of the four major U.S. carriers was taking a pass on the first hardware. But the carrier is going to sell the keyboard-toting Q10, and will also sell what could be a Z10 successor, complete with touch-only interface, later in 2013.
AllThingsD reported earlier today that Sprint would have an all-touch device, which it described as not just a slightly modified Z10. This new phone is being launched in the second half of the year, according to AllThingsD’s sources, likely well after the launch of the upcoming Q10 with its hardware keyboard. The Verge followed up this earlier report with a supporting claim that describes the Sprint handset as a “version 2.0” of the Z1o, according to its sources.
Sprint’s decision to pass on the Z10 while all its competitors look poised to offer both that handset and the Q10 makes a little more sense in light of this rumor. The device may be a carrier-exclusive variant, which is something BlackBerry has been known to do in the past in its former guise as RIM. But both sources of these new reports seem to indicate that what we’ll see won’t be simply a refreshed Z10 with some different specs, but a different all-touch device. No word on where it might fit in term of appealing to upscale or more budget-minded consumers.
A Z10 follow-up might actually be worth waiting for those interested in BB10, since the Z10 itself was impressive, but nonetheless a little rough around the edges. Some more time to bake might be just what the doctor ordered for an all-touch BlackBerry 10 device, and Sprint might be banking on that to help it become the carrier of choice for RIM’s next-gen mobile OS. We’ve contacted BlackBerry to see if there’s any official comment about device release plans for Sprint, and will update if any is forthcoming.