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Dual-screen BlackBerry patent that never was hints at what could have been

As smartphone designs go, BlackBerry’s tried and tested top-half display, scroll ball, hardware keyboard layout had served the company well for a long time, but once the rest of smartphone market caught up to the Canadian manufacturer, it realised that it needed to diversify to survive and one such design, could have been the dual-screen example you see before you.

In the UK, our first touchscreen BBs came in the form of the Storm series with their unusual SurePress clickable screens and later, touchscreen iterations of the Torch, Curve and Bold emerged. Whilst in the US, the distinctive (if somewhat monstrous) BlackBerry Style clamshell graced the market, but as time went on, even with this more diverse portfolio of handset form factors, the BlackBerry user experience couldn’t keep up, and that’s where the dual-screen concept could have come in.

BlackBerry dual-screen patent concept
Seeing double – A dual-screen BlackBerry might have been novel, but would it have sold?

The patent seen here and turfed up by Engadget on the USPTO shows a very different future to the one BlackBerry finally chose with the likes of the Z10 and for that we’re thankful. The landscape dual-screen handset in this application doesn’t simply serve as a split widescreen format device, but rather was intended to offer up simultaneous app use: one on each screen. Not only that, with each display serving as a touchscreen, users would have been able to use gestures spanning both touch panels, allowing them to perform advanced actions such as swapping which apps were showing on which screen at any one time simultaneously.

In favour of this, BlackBerry has opted for the more conventional design of the Z10 with its buttonless touchscreen and BlackBerry Flow user interface, which focuses on controlling the fundamental aspects of navigation by swiping from the edges of the display. The dual-screen Berry’ would have turned heads had it ever come to market, but we’re less sure it would have had consumers opening wallets, at least not enough to help support BlackBerry in the direction they were headed at the time.

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