The latest rumour concerning BlackBerry’s forthcoming 9000 3G smartphone is that it will feature a front-mounted camera, allowing it to be used for video calls.

The rumour originates from a Spanish blogger and photographer called Luis Rodriguez, who appears to have had access to a pre-production version of BlackBerry’s new handset.

Quite whether the video call function will generate any more interest in BlackBerry's new model than it does in the myriad of similar 3G, front-camera-sporting phones already on the market remains to be seen though.

Put it on expenses

Perhaps BlackBerry is hoping that a video call feature will take off in the corporate world more so than it has in that of the consumer, where it’s largely redundant. If company expenses can be relied upon to pick up the bill for this type of usage then Blackberry could well be on to something.

In addition to video calls, Senor Rodriguez also claims that the 9000 will feature a microSD expansion slot and pack a larger battery life than other BlackBerry models.

Talk of a larger battery is interesting. Especially given a well-sourced report in The BoyGenius at the beginning of April that claimed the 9000’s battery life "sucked" allowing for "a little less than two hours browsing the web with Wi-Fi switched on".

Excellent batteries

It could well be that a larger battery has since been fitted to correct this shortfall. As Eric Zeman from InformationWeek notes, BlackBerrys are known for their "excellent battery life".

While battery issues are expected to lead to a delay in the 9000’s rumoured June launch, it does seem that BlackBerry is doing everything it can to ensure the resultant handset is able to fully compete with Apple’s iPhone.

As these photos show, it's even nicked the iPhone’s curves.