RIM launches BlackBerry Torch, touchscreen with slide-down QWERTY, runs OS 6.0

3 Aug

blackberry torch 9800 OS 6Research In Motion (RIM) today announced its first smartphone that will counter Apple’s iPhone and other Android smartphones. The BlackBerry Torch runs on an updated Operating System (BlackBerry OS 6), which is optimised for a touchscreen user interface and brings in many social networking and multimedia features to the essentially enterprise-oriented smartphone platform. It is RIM’s latest attempt to ensure its users don’t switch to other smartphones which have better Internet browsing and multimedia experience.

The handset maker had earlier tried its hand on touchscreen phones in the form of the Storm and the Storm 2 but had limited success as the user interface was not designed for touch input. BlackBerry is the phone of choice for most corporate and enterprise users for its robust e-mail service. Lately, RIM has been able to entice youngsters with its relatively cheaper BlackBerry 8520 (available at approximately Rs 12,000) and by lowering the price of its services and even offering them to pre-paid subscribers on many carriers.

The Torch, which has a 3.2-inch, 480×360 pixel touchscreen along with a slide-down QWERTY keypad, is the first BlackBerry to run on the new OS. It also has a 5.0 MP camera with flash and a 4 GB internal memory. The Torch runs on a 624 MHz processor and introduces a new wireless music sync feature that can sync a user’s iTunes or Windows Media Player music library over Wi-Fi.

The Torch was first leaked a few months ago as the BlackBerry 9800. Apart from overhauling the entire UI to make it more relevant in the age of iPhones and Androids, RIM has included a new webkit-based browser courtesy of Torch Mobile, a company that it had acquired sometime back. Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android OS and even Nokia’s phone employ browsers that are based upon webkit. BlackBerry phones, which were popular for their e-mail service, had one of the worst Internet browser on any smartphone.

RIM has launched the Torch with AT&T, which also has the exclusive rights to sell Apple’s iPhone in the US. It will start retailing in the US from August 12 for $199 with a two-year contract with AT&T. It is not yet clear when RIM will launch the Torch in other countries but we have a feeling that we won’t have to wait for long. Typically, newly announced BlackBerry handhelds are launched in India withing a couple of months.

No Responses to “RIM launches BlackBerry Torch, touchscreen with slide-down QWERTY, runs OS 6.0”

  1. James August 3, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    It looks fantastic, the big question being of course: “is it a slick and smooth user experience?”

    The specs and the descriptions of the OS sound great, but how this translates to a user experience is anyone’s guess. Blackberry’s have never been the slickest experience probably due to their Java-based platform. If this is anything less than instantly responsive and super smooth, it will be a flop because the whole point of this phone is to compete in the multimedia phone market and iPhone/Android devices have a smooth, slick interface which make them a pleasure to use.

    I will always stick with Blackberry while it remains the best for email and business, but I will be waiting to see how the UI rates among phone enthusiasts before I do the switch from my steadfast Bold 9000.

  2. Rajat Agrawal August 3, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    Agreed. A bigger challenge for RIM would be to incorporate the same UI experience on a non-touchscreen environment. It will be updating the Bold 9700, the 9650 and the Pearl 3G to 6.0. A lot would depend on how the transformation takes place as barring the Torch and the two Storm variants all BlackBerry phones are non-touchscreen devices.

  3. Thakur August 3, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    I agree with James in that this phone will not have much success. Perhaps a 4.3″ screen like the Droid X could be a differentiator when compared to the iPhone

    • Rajat Agrawal August 4, 2010 at 12:34 am #

      I don’t see lot of non-BlackBerry users buying the Torch when they have superphones like the iPhone and those running on Android. The only great thing about the Torch is probably e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger. But then, that’s true with every BlackBerry phone.

      The Torch just seems like a stop-gap arrangement to prevent BlackBerry users from hopping over to Android or iPhone rather than getting new users hooked on to the BlackBerry experience. In my opinion, cheaper BlackBerry smartphones like the 8520 and the Javelin 8700 will bring RIM far more new customers than the Torch.

  4. John Smith August 4, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    Good write up. Bd Phone. Will RIM have the same fate as Nokia

    • Rajat Agrawal August 4, 2010 at 2:26 am #

      RIM won’t really have “the same fate as Nokia” as it has a killer feature – BlackBerry Mail. Till the time no one else measures up to the security and encryption that BlackBerry provides it is unlikely to end down in the dumps. The problem with Nokia is it does not have any killer feature on its phones that would give it an upper hand against other smartphone platforms.

  5. Shivann August 4, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    It saddens me to see a company like RIM release a product that is so lousy looking. Were they trying to emulate the Palm Pre? RIM is really caught between a rock and a hard place. I think with Windows 7 will further reduce RIM’s market share.
    RIM had a dominating 10 year run. Adios!

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