4G PlayBook launching next week in Canada, Europe later

The next generation BlackBerry tablet will launch next week and won't need Wi-Fi to connect.

BlackBerry-maker RIM will launch its 4G-enabled PlayBook tablet in Canada next week, while us Brits will have to wait "months", Reuters reports.

The current PlayBook is Wi-Fi-only, so the 4G version is the first RIM tablet to connect using a mobile network. RIM will roll out the tablet in Canada first, then it'll come to the US, Europe, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The UK 4G auction is set to take place at the end of this year, so a 4G PlayBook wouldn't be any good to us before then anyway.

The 4G PlayBook packs 32GB of storage and goes on sale in Canada from Thursday, 9 August.

RIM launched its original PlayBook over a year ago, but it's struggled due to a lack of email and no mobile connection. Competition from the likes of the iPad and the Nexus 7 won't have helped either. The PlayBook scored just two stars out of five in our review.

We first heard word of a mobile data-enabled PlayBook back in January, though back then the rumour was it would be 3G rather than 4G. More innocent times, you see. Then in April, pictures of the 4G version leaked, showing the SIM tray missing from the Wi-Fi-only one.

It'll be RIM's first major launch for a while. And with BB10 (its next mobile operating system), delayed until next year, don't expect it to launch much before then. This week, RIM's CEO hinted that the company was considering licensing BB10 to other manufacturers, so we could see the OS popping up in other companies' handsets. (RIM could even 'do a Sega' and duck out of hardware altogether, after the games company stopped making consoles to focus on games.)

According to RIM's leaked road map, the 4G PlayBook wasn't supposed to launch until the end of this year. Then a super-sized tablet named Blackforest would launch next year.

Is the PlayBook something you'd buy if it could connect to mobile data? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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