New York - Research In Motion (RIM) and AT&T
unveiled today the BlackBerry Torch 9800 running on RIM's new BlackBerry 6
customers on Aug. 12 in AT&T company-owned retail stores and online at www.att.com/blackberrytorch, as
well as Best Buy, Walmart and RadioShack stores.
The Torch 9800 will be available for $199 with a two-year service agreement
on a qualifying rate plan with a smartphone data plan required. New
smartphone customers may choose from two monthly AT&T data plan options:
$15 for 200MB of wireless data or $25 for 2GB.
Enterprise and small-business customers should contact their account
representative for pricing details.
The Torch uses RIM's BlackBerry 6 operating system and comes with full
touchscreen BlackBerry keyboard. "Whether users choose to type out messages on
the capacitive touchscreen or easy-to-use BlackBerry keyboard, browse the
Internet using pinch-to-zoom, or fluidly navigate with the optical track pad,
the BlackBerry Torch allows them to communicate any way they want," RIM said in
Ross Rubin, The NPD Group's wireless and CE analyst, who attended
today's press conference, told TWICE that the Torch is "a good, solid product.
It gets [RIM] back in the game" with Apple's iPhone 4 and Motorola's Droid X in
the 4G market.
Mike Lazaridis, RIM's president and co-CEO, said, "With a new user
interface, new browser and new handset design, the highly anticipated
BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry 6 deliver integrated and uncompromising
capabilities for consumers and business professionals that preserve the
industry-leading strengths of the BlackBerry platform while adding exciting new
The BlackBerry 6 OS also features a redesigned interface that works with
the touchscreen and track pad, includes expanded messaging capabilities with
features to simplify the management of social networking and RSS feeds, and
provides integrated access to the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Facebook,
Twitter, MySpace and various instant messaging applications available on the BlackBerry
Torch smartphone. It also includes a dedicated YouTube app and Podcasts app.
BlackBerry 6 integrates a new and rich WebKit-based browser on that renders
HTML web pages (as well as HTML email) and features tabs for accessing multiple
sites simultaneously, pinch-to-zoom for easy navigation, and an auto-wrap text
zoom feature that can wrap text in a column while maintaining the placement of
a page's key elements with a double tap
on the Torch.
The Torch is 4.4 inches (5.8 inches open) by 2.4 inches by 0.57 inches and
weighs 5.68 ounces. It has a 3.2-inch 360 by 480 capacitive touchscreen
display, a 35-key full QWERTY backlit slide-out keyboard designed to feel
optimally balanced when opened for typing, and an optical track pad.
Among the phone's other main features is a 624Mhz processor with 512MB Flash
memory, 4GB built-in memory storage plus a MicroSD/SDHD memory card slot that
supports up to 32GB cards; a 4GB card is included, giving users 8GB of storage
out of the box.
Also included: a 5-megapixel camera with flash, continuous autofocus, image
stabilization, scene modes, geo-tagging and zoom, as well as video recording at
up to 640 by 480 resolution, built-in GPS for location-based applications and
geo-tagging, and Wi-Fi access to more 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots
nationally at no additional cost.
The phone also comes with a removable, rechargeable 1,300 mAh battery that
provides approximately 5.8 hours of talktime on 3G networks, 30 hours of audio
playback or six hours of video playback.
The Torch is preloaded with icons that allow them to
download and immediately begin using a variety of rich entertainment and
social-networking apps to access sites such as Bloomberg, ESPN, The Weather
Channel and Slacker Radio, in addition to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others.
Also available is AT&T's Web Video Search, a unique new app that searches
video content from more than 70 major Internet video websites.
In addition to searching the Internet for video, the BlackBerry Torch
smartphone also features more multimedia apps that let users download TV shows
and watch live TV, as well as create video content and upload it to YouTube. A
new podcasts app makes it easy for users to find and manage audio and video
Forrester Research mobile analyst Charles Golvin's said, "The Torch and OS6 put Research In Motion on firm competitive ground against Apple's iPhone and the Android devices, with a touch screen on par plus the Blackberry keyboard. The key question is whether RIM can convince developers to prioritize this new platform above the competition. RIM has a strong appeal for developers because of the size of their installed base. With a new platform that base is reset to zero so developers will apply different criteria to their decision on prioritizing BlackBerry vs iphone, android, etc. Having addressed their shortcomings in OS and UI, this is the huge challenge for RIM."