BlackBerry Hamburg/Neon: Release date, specs and everything we know so far

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Blackberry is expected to launch three phones over the next year. One of them is the Argon and, by the sounds of it, this will be the company’s 2016 flagshipphone. It’s a big, all touchscreen device with a powerful processor, support for the latest Quick Charge and Type-C connectivity.

Then there’s the Mercury; the next physical keyboard-equipped Android phonewith a design reminiscent of the Passport and Classic.

Before both of those, however, there’s the Neon. This is expected to be another entirely touchscreen-based phone which fits neatly in to the high/mid end of the market next to phones from the likes of OnePlus, Alcatel and Oppo.

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All recent speculation suggests the BlackBerry Neon will essentially be a rebadged Alcatel Idol 4. Rumours have suggested for some time that BlackBerry has signed up TCL Communication to build at least some of its next phones. The same manufacturer is responsible for all of the Alcatel-branded phones available to buy currently, as well as the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 and Ultra 7.

A recent Neon leak showing off the rear panel showed what looked very much like the Idol 4 from the back. In fact, the only major noticeable difference between the Idol 4 and the device in the leak was the brand logo. Where one has Alcatel’s stamp, the other has BlackBerry’s. Otherwise it is virtually the same device.

The camera and LED placement in the top left corner is identical, as is the design of the metal frame around the edges, which includes the rear-facing speaker grilles on the top and bottom. With the Alcatel phone, this is a feature designed to enable clear stereo sound regardless of whether your phone is placed face-down or face-up. If it’s a genuine press render, we’re likely to see that in the BlackBerry too.

It could be a soft-touch plastic back rather than glass, but we won’t know for sure until the Waterloo-based company announces it officially.

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Unlike the BlackBerry Priv and what’s rumoured for the upcoming all-touch “Argon” flagship, which both have 5.5-inch Quad HD screens, the Neon is expected to have a 5.2-inch full HD 1080 x 1920 resolution display.

With this being the mid-range phone in the lineup, it’s unlikely that it’ll feature the curved edges like the Priv or Galaxy S7 Edge, but may still have the ever-popular 2.5D glass with subtle curves around the outside, near the frame.

Blackberry is set to place a mammoth 21-megapixel camera on the back of the rumoured Argon, so it makes sense that the Neon’s snapper is a little less pixel-dense. Leaked benchmarks have pointed towards a 12-megapixel camera, suggesting that it won’t be the same sensor/lens makeup as the Idol 4 from Alcatel. The same benchmarks also suggest we’ll be able to record 4K resolution video with the camera.

Selfies with the Neo should be just fine, with a 7-megapixel camera with 1080p video rumoured for the front panel of the all-touch mid-ranger.

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As spec-lists go, the Neon’s so far looks decidedly mid-range. Claimed leaked benchmark results have suggested that – as well as the full HD screen – we’ll see a Snapdragon 615/617 processor paired with 3GB RAM. While this should mean performance is generally smooth and stutter free, the power won’t exactly set the world alight.

So far, phones with the mid-tier Snapdragon processor have been mostly fine, but are noticeably slower at loading games than more high-end devices.

Along with the 3GB RAM, it’s expected that we’ll see 16GB built-in storage, which hints towards the very real possibility that we’ll get expandable storage via microSD card and hopefully Android Marshmallow’s adoptable storage feature too.

Along with all of that, the 2,610mAh battery should get through a day’s use on a full charge and – with Quick Charge 2.0 support – will be speedily refillable.

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We’re not sure exactly when the Hamburg/Neon is being released, but the device did recently show up in the FCC’s listings, suggesting that it will be announced at some point soon. A recently published roadmap from Venture Beat for the next 12 months suggests the Neon will be the first device of three coming between now and first quarter of 2017. In fact, it’s expected at some point in the next couple of months.

As far as pricing goes, it’s looking likely to be in and around the $300-$400 USD price range, which should mean a sub-£300/$450 price point in the UK. If we had to speculate, we’d probably predict it’ll cost around £250/$375, placing it right in MotoG4 Plus and OnePlus 2 territory.

We’ll be keeping an eye on all the rumours surrounding the BlackBerry Hamburg/Neon (whatever you want to call it) and updating as we learn more. You can follow all the news and reviews on the BlackBerry hub!

(pocket-lint.com, http://goo.gl/tIwbbm)

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