RIM is believed to be working on a handset code-named 'Colt' which uses the same QNX operating system that powers the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.
News blog Boy Genius Report credited unnamed sources in reporting that the first QNX-powered smartphone will arrive in early 2012.
The report suggests that the handset will ship without support for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and will preserve battery life by using a single-core processor.
RIM shipped the PlayBook earlier this year but, despite lofty expectations, the tablet fell flat in the market and total sales are well below the company's initial forecasts.
QNX is said to be playing a central role in RIM's long-term plans for its smartphone range. The so-called QNX 'superphones' could help RIM regain its position in the market.
RIM is currently the fourth largest handset vendor on the market with a share of 11.6 per cent, according to figures from IDC, and is seeing strong competition from Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and the emergence of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.
Falling sales and job cuts have prompted shareholders to criticise RIM for a perceived inability to keep pace with Android and iOS.
Some analysts have even suggested that RIM should split its handset and network appliance lines.
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