RIM Trying To Regain Mojo With Touchscreen Phones

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Waterloo, Ontario - Research In Motion is out to get its mojo back by expanding its selection of touchscreen smartphones with faster processors and other enhancements in what it called its largest-ever worldwide product launch.

The launch also marks the debut of the company's BlackBerry 7 OS. The first phones with the QNX OS are due next year.

All five models features color touchscreen, and three add hard QWERTY keyboard. All also offer such improvements as 1.2GHz processor, 720p HD video recording, and dedicated 24-bit high-resolution graphics processor.

The products include the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930. Both are the thinnest BlackBerry smartphones ever at 0.41 inches deep, and both are the first Bolds to add a touchscreen to supplement their BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard. They're also the first BlackBerry phones with built-in near-field communications (NFC).

The other three products are the BlackBerry Torch 9810, which features 3.2-inch touchscreen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and the all-touch BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860. The latter two offer the largest ever displays on a BlackBerry, at 3.7 inches.

The quintet will roll out worldwide through 225 carriers and others starting later this month, RIM said. Three of the models will be available from AT&T, and all will be AT&T's first 4G 14.4Mbps HSPA+ BlackBerry phones. All of the AT&T models will also operate in foreign 2.1GHz HSPA+ networks. Pricing wasn't announced.

The first of the new BlackBerry phones from AT&T will be the Torch 9810 slider, which the carrier will offer on an exclusive basis beginning in August. The second-generation Torch will replace AT&T's first-generation Torch, which also comes with touchscreen and slide-out keyboard. Pricing wasn't announced.

Sometime later this year, AT&T will offer the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and the all-touch BlackBerry Torch 9860, which will be AT&T's first all-touch BlackBerry smartphone. Pricing wasn't announced.

The Bold 9900 is also destined for other U.S. carriers, as is the Bold 9300. Previously, T-Mobile said it would offer the Bold 9900 on its 1700/2100MHz 4G HSPA+ network with international 4G roaming on the 900MHz and 2.1GHz bands. For its part, RIM previously disclosed that the Bold 9930 operates in U.S. 3G CDMA Rev. A networks in the 850/1900MHz bands and also operates in the foreign 2.1GHz band. Details of the two Bolds were previously announced in May.

Other U.S. carriers that will offer the Torch 9860 haven't been announced, nor have the U.S. carriers that will offer the Torch 9850.

BlackBerry 7 OS:

Thanks to the new OS, all five phones feature a next-generation BlackBerry browser with faster, more fluid web browsing, the company said. The browser engine, combined with hardware enhancements, yields browsing results said to be 40 percent faster than BlackBerry 6-based smartphones and up to 100 percent faster than BlackBerry 5-based smartphones. The new browser also offers improved zooming and panning as well as HTML5 support.

Other BlackBerry 7 OS features include voice-activated search to conduct a universal search for content on the phone and web. Additional personal and productivity apps are included out of the box.

The OS also adds BlackBerry Balance, which separates personal content from secure corporate content, giving corporate users the ability to use their handsets for personal email and other personal-use apps. Corporate IT departments will be able to remotely wipe only corporate data from the handset and block work-related content and apps from being copied or forwarded to personal contacts.

 The OS also supports the phones' Liquid Graphics touchscreen, said to deliver fast touch-based navigation, web browsing, pictures, video, and graphics-intensive games with video up to 60 fps.

Other enhancements:

In other enhancements, all five phones feature the newest release of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messaging, which is integrated with other apps.

 An updated Social Feeds app now captures updates from media, podcasts, and favorites in one consolidated view. The new Facebook for BlackBerry app brings features such as Facebook chat and integrated BBM to make it easier to chat with Facebook friends in real time.

As previously reported, the two new Bolds feature dual-band 802.11 Wi-Fi, with Wi-Fi b/g/n at 2.4 GHz plus 802.11 a/n at 5GHz,  brushed stainless-steel frame, optical trackpad, 8GB onboard memory, MicroSD slot and 5-megpixel camera.

In comparing its new Torch 9810 touchscreen slider to the first-generation Torch, AT&T pointed out that processor speed doubles to 1.2GHz, included memory goes to 8GB from 4GMB, RAM increases 50 percent to 768MB, and the display goes to 480 by 640 VGA.


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