RIM Brings Out the New Blackberry Torch 9800


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Canadian smartphone leader Research In Motion (RIM) brings something new to its stable with the release of the Blackberry Torch 9800.  It’s the first fresh breath from the moribund RIM since its last innovative Storm smartphone styling hit the shelves. We are expecting some great BlackBerry Torch deals to head our way very soon, so stay tuned.

This is proof positive that RIM is pitching its often staid corporate-bound products to a wider market giving nod the form factors and features that the markets have come to expect from mobile phones, smartphone or not.

Adding to the breath of fresh is the much awaited Blackberry OS v6.0 just released.  Its Torch 9800 is the first to run the new OS which RIM is positioning to compete with the emerging Android and iPhone platforms that have had a larger consumer market following.

Availability

For a while the exclusivity deal with AT&T in the United States seems to have limited its market reach as a worthy Android and iPhone opponent but we are glad to hear it is now available from other carriers.  Europe will soon see it coming from Orange and O2 as well as Rogers in Canada.

Vodafone has likewise announce it will carry the Blackberry Torch 9800. It started out with a SIM-free price of $799 at the Overseas Electronics site but if that’s any indication, expect it to be priced around €600 when it reaches the continent.

Hardware Features

RIM has fused in its Blackberry Torch 9800 its signature full QWERTY candybar keyboard form factor to Storm’s touchscreen with a more upbeat portrait slider. Closing it results in a touchscreen monolith measuring 111 x 62 x 14.6mm which is just about the size of the Storm 2 9770.

Sliding the screen up reveals a portrait QWERTY keypad typical of the signature Blackberry-esque look.  At 61g, it weighs only a gram more than Storm2.

So what else do you get? Starting with the display, you get one nearly identical with that on the Storm. It sports a 3.2 inch TFT resistive touchscreen with Half-VGA (350 x 480) resolution and 256k colors.  It doesn’t have the gravity accelerometer of the Storm2 but gets a proximity sensor for automatically turning off the touchscreen sensitivity when held against the ear in a call.

The Blackberry Torch 9800 is a veritable cornucopia of radio and data connectivity features. International roaming is seamless on GSM networks worldwide with a quad band GSM (850/ 900/ 1800/ 1900) radio with class 10 GPRS/EDGE data speeds on 2G.

It’s also a 3G phone on quad band UMTS (800 / 850 / 1900 / 2100) with HSDPA/HSUPA data speeds for high speed online presence. Hotspot surfing is served with its WiFi 802.11 b/g/n while other local data connectivity includes microUSB v2.0 and Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP for wired and wireless data transfers, respectively.

SatNav is supported from its integrated GPS receiver supporting A-GPS support.

Imaging on the Blackberry Torch 9800 is as good as it gets with a 5 megapixel autofocus camera that features LED flash, continuous autofocus, geo tagging, face detection and image stabilization including VGA video recording.

There’s no FM radio but multimedia entertainment on the road comes with the media players that can synchronize with iTunes and playback audio files in the MP3, WMA, eAAC+, FLAC and OGG formats as well as clips and movies in the MP4, WMV and H.263/H.264 video codecs. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired stereo listening option or enjoy wireless stereo listening with its A2DP profile support.

The Blackberry OS v6 runs on a 624 MHz processor that gets a 512 MB RAM and 512 MB ROM generous enough top run and multitask its apps and system files. For your multimedia files, it has a 4GB internal flash memory supported by a microSD expansion slot that can take in as much as 32GB. Its sale kit includes an 8GB microSD card free.

Talks times are about the same for 2G and 3G at around 5.5 to 5.8 hours and music playback can reach up to 30 hours from it standards li-ion battery rated at 1300 mAh when fully charged.

Software Features

With the Blackberry OS v6 and its redesigned UI, the Blackberry Torch 9800 benefits from a PC-like Web-Kit multi-tab multi-page browser, Podcast apps, the Blackberry App World and Social Feeds for social networking presence more updatable with a single page view of all your favorite sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live, Google talk, etc.

It comes with preloaded Blackberry maps and a document reader for PDF and MS Office files effectively making the handset an eBook reader.  Let’s not overlook the main reason why the name has endeared itself to security conscious companies – its BES push-mail facility for corporate email as well the Blackberry Internet Service and which now includes the Blackberry Instant Messaging service.  You also get access to the Blackberry app store which opens a whole vista of applications and games that make your handset seem new.

Conclusion

It’s often a cause of wonder how companies tend to be more reactive than proactive.  For years, the Blackberry smartphone brand has lorded it over the US smartphone markets hovering well above 40% market share.  The NPD statistics confirms what has been released earlier that Android has surpassed not only iPhone but RIM as well.  Android now command 33% of the market, followed by Blackberry at 28% and iPhone at 22%.

Now, it seems RIM is fighting back after being beaten by an upstart.  All the while, it was churning out some of the blandest smartphones on the market when they could have done better.  Can the more exciting Blackberry Torch 9800 bring back its number one position by the next quarter?  Tough chance.

This is one more case of doing too little too late. While the new Blackberry Torch 9800 has a lot of competitive features, there’s really nothing outstanding as most other flagship smartphones out there have them.  Worst, it falls short on some.

To begin with, what is RIM thinking putting a half-VGA display resolution when the competition in its price point already has 480 x 800 resolution, let alone the iPhone 4 retina resolution?  And if RIM wants a wider share of the smartphone market outside of the corporate world, was it too much for them to put a landscape slider along the line of a Droid?  Here’s wishing to the Blackberry Torch 9800 model a good show. You can read more BlackBerry Torch reviews here to get a better feel of what people are thinking of this new handset.

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