Today, RIM released their latest Blackberry. Called the “Torch” 9800, it combines a touchscreen with a slide out keyboard (think Palm Pre). Here’s the key facts:
- 5 megapixel cam with flash.
- Full QWERTY on a portrait slide. It looks like the Palm Pre. Hope it feels better than that keyboard.
- 802.11n WiFi support so that you don’t give too much money to your cell carrier.
- 4GB of storage onboard paired with a 4GB microSD card in the box.
- 512MB each of ROM and RAM.
- A quadband 3G radio so you can go everywhere with it.
- A 480 x 360 touchscreen display. Hey RIM! 2007 called and they want their screen back. With 800×400 screens aplenty, this looks really lame.
- The optical trackpad that you gotta get if you get a Blackberry.
The big news is that this comes with Blackberry OS 6 which brings a Webkit based web browser (think Apple iPhone), universal search functionality, social network aggregation, and WiFi-powered media sync with your desktop music collection among other things. RIM really needed a new OS as their existing OS was looking extremely dated. If you have a Bold 9700, Bold 9650, and Pearl 3G, RIM has also committed to bringing BlackBerry 6 as an upgrade to those devices too.
So, does it put RIM back in the game seeing as they’ve been losing marketshare to iPhone and Android? Yes. But that’s a qualified yes. The “Torch” doesn’t blow my mind. But the new OS makes them competitive with Android and iPhone. They’ve also fixed the mistakes that they made with the “Storm” series by adding a keyboard which is a key strength of RIM. The key weakness? The display. When you have the iPhone (960×640) and Droid X (854×480) with much higher displays, the display on the “Torch” looks dated. RIM should have done a better job there. I think that this will stop some Blackberry addicts from defecting to other smartphones, but I think that RIM really needs to do more to really stop the bleeding.