Well, the BlackBerry Torch 9800 is a real thing! It's a crazy-thin touchscreen slider BlackBerry running Waterloo's latest and (probably) greatest software, the revamped BlackBerry OS 6. It is interesting.
To start, it still looks a lot like a BlackBerry! Just, like it with a slight mutation in its DNA, so it was born with a touchscreen and a full keyboard. It's on AT&T, and it will cost $199 with a two year contract when it goes on sale August 12. It's named the Torch after a WebKit company RIM acquired named Torch.
You've already seen a bunch of what makes the Torch really new, which is BlackBerry OS 6. Like the new, glory-be-to-WebKit browser, BlackBerry App World 2.0, social networking bits, and multimedia stuff and revamped homescreen and interface.
RIM's CEO is heavily touting a handful of features: Universal search across the device—apps, emails, feeds, contacts, music, internets, etc.; a universal inbox, which is basically a stream of all your emails, messages, social networks and RSS feeds; and wireless music syncing a la Zune, which sounds like hotness.
It's curious how frequently RIM is saying at the announcement event that the BlackBerry Torch offers something "familiar." Below are the basic specs for the Torch itself, along with the full press release for it and OS 6. [RIM, RIM]
• Approximately 4.4" x 2.4" x 0.57" (closed), 5.8" x 2.4" x 0.57" (open)
• Approximately 5.7 oz.
• 512MB Flash memory, 4GB on‐board memory, microSD/SDHC memory card
slot (4GB card included, cards up to 32GB supported)
• Half‐VGA+ touchscreen display, measuring 3.2" (480 x 360 at 188 ppi)
• 5 MP camera with flash, continuous autofocus, face detection, geotagging
• 802.11 b/g/n
• Built‐in GPS
• Audio format support: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, FLAC, OGG
• Video format support: MPEG4, H.263, MPEG4 Part 2 Simple Profile H.264, WMV
• Network support: GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz; HSPDA/UMTS: 800/850/1900/2100 MHz
• Talk Time: 5.5 hrs, Audio Playback: 29.8 hrs, Video Playback: 6 hrs
• Operating System: BlackBerry 6
AT&T AND RESEARCH IN MOTION IGNITE CUSTOMERS WITH
THE NEW BLACKBERRY TORCH
BlackBerry Torch Smartphone First to Feature New BlackBerry 6
Combines New Touch Screen Experience with Easy-To-Use Keyboard and Rich WebKit Browser
First Smartphone to Support AT&T's Next Generation Messaging Experience, and First to Offer Locations Feature
New BlackBerry App World Pre-installed with Carrier Billing Support
DALLAS and WATERLOO, ONTARIO, August 3, 2010 - Joining forces to offer the first smartphone to feature the highly anticipated BlackBerry® 6 exclusively on the nation's fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T* and Research In Motion (RIM) today introduced the new BlackBerry® Torch™ 9800 smartphone. Adept for socially connected consumers and packed with the tools business customers love, the new handset is the world's first smartphone to combine a BlackBerry® keyboard with a full touch screen experience. Whether users choose to type out messages on the capacitive touch screen or easy-to-use BlackBerry keyboard, browse the Internet using pinch to zoom or fluidly navigate with the optical trackpad, the BlackBerry Torch allows them to communicate any way they want.
"We were the first to launch the BlackBerry solution in 1999 and have a rich history of innovation and collaboration with Research In Motion," said Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "The two companies that brought the first BlackBerry smartphones to market have teamed up again with the new BlackBerry Torch, creating a true generational shift in hardware and operating system for this enormously popular service."
"This is one of the most significant launches in RIM's history and we are proud to introduce the new BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry 6 together with AT&T," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-ceo, Research In Motion. "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 dimensions."
The BlackBerry Torch is the first BlackBerry smartphone to launch with BlackBerry 6, a new operating system that retains the familiar and trusted features that distinguish the BlackBerry brand while delivering a fresh, approachable and engaging experience that's powerful and easy to use.
BlackBerry 6 features a redesigned interface that seamlessly works with the touch screen and trackpad, includes expanded messaging capabilities with intuitive features to simplify the management of social networking and RSS feeds (Social Feeds), and provides integrated access to the BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™), Facebook®, Twitter™, MySpace™ and various instant messaging applications available on the BlackBerry Torch smartphone. Its enhanced multimedia experience rivals the best in the industry and includes a dedicated YouTube app and Podcasts app.
BlackBerry 6 also integrates a new and rich WebKit-based browser on BlackBerry Torch that renders HTML web pages (as well as HTML email) quickly and beautifully for a great browsing experience. It features tabs for accessing multiple sites simultaneously, double-tap to zoom that can intelligently wrap text in a column while maintaining the placement of a page's key elements, and pinch to zoom.
Universal search, always accessible from the Home Screen, allows users to search through email, messages, contacts, music, videos and more on the smartphone, as well as extend search to the Internet or to discover applications on BlackBerry App World™.
Messaging has always been a core element of the BlackBerry smartphone experience and the BlackBerry Torch smartphone expands on RIM's popular messaging solutions with the support of AT&T's advanced messaging features for SMS and MMS. RIM's new Text Messages application is especially exciting for users who communicate most via SMS and MMS, providing support for AT&T's next-generation messaging experience, which includes group messaging with "reply all" functionality for up to 10 contacts. And for the first time, AT&T's platform includes a new Locations feature.
Locations lets users easily search for points of interest, businesses, and even the user's own location, and insert this information directly into a message, all without leaving the messaging application. Using group messaging and locations together, users can arrange to meet a group of friends easily by sending one message to all of them, discussing together where to meet and then sending a map – all in one threaded conversation. AT&T designed the service based on research that revealed customers want features that help facilitate social planning, improved message organization and location sharing.
Apps At Your Fingertips
After powering up the BlackBerry Torch smartphone for the first time, users will notice a set of pre-loaded icons which allow them to download and immediately begin using a variety of rich entertainment and social networking applications to access Bloomberg, ESPN, The Weather Channel and Slacker Radio content in addition to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more. Also available is AT&T's Web Video Search, a unique new app that searches video content from over 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. The new Podcasts application makes it easy for users to find and manage audio and video podcasts.
Another application that puts a key function of a phone at your fingertips is Visual Voicemail, which benefits customers by allowing them to select the voicemails they want to hear first.
The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is also the first BlackBerry smartphone to include BlackBerry App World™ pre-installed, supporting carrier billing through AT&T, making it easier for customers to discover and purchase applications.
BlackBerry Torch Smartphone Features
· Elegant styling, measuring approx. 4.4" (5.8" open) x 2.4" x .57" and weighing 5.68 ounces
· 3.2" 360x480 capacitive touch screen display
· 35 key full QWERTY backlit slide-out keyboard, designed to feel optimally balanced when opened for typing
· Optical trackpad that makes navigation fast and smooth
· Powerful 624 Mhz processor with 512 MB Flash memory
· 4 GB built-in memory storage plus a microSD/SDHD memory card slot that supports up to 32 GB cards; a 4 GB card is included giving users 8 GB of storage out-of-the-box
· 5 MP camera with flash, continuous auto focus, image stabilization, scene modes, geo-tagging and zoom, as well as video recording at up to 640x480 resolution
· Built-in GPS for location-based applications and geo-tagging
· Wi-Fi® (802.11 b/g/n); qualifying smartphone customers can enjoy seamless connectivity to over 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots at no additional cost
· 3.5mm stereo headset jack
· Premium phone features, including voice activated dialing, speakerphone and Bluetooth® (2.1) with support for hands-free headsets, stereo headsets, car kits (including systems that support the Bluetooth Message Access Profile standard) and other Bluetooth accessories
· New BlackBerry® Desktop Software 6 with integrated media sync for easily syncing music, photos and videos**. It also includes Wi-Fi Music Sync, a unique feature that allows users to view their entire iTunes® or Windows Media® Player music libraries from their BlackBerry smartphone, create and edit playlists as well as select music for download. When in range of their home Wi-Fi network (or via USB), the changes are synced with iTunes or Windows Media Player and the songs are automatically downloaded to the smartphone
· Tri-band HSDPA (3G) and quad-band EDGE support for the option of voice service in more than 220 countries, data service in more than 195 countries and 3G connectivity in more than 125 countries, including Japan and South Korea
· Removable, rechargeable 1300 mAhr battery that provides approximately 5.8 hours of talk time on 3G networks or 30 hours of audio playback or 6 hours of video playback
Pricing and Availability
The BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone will be available only for AT&T customers on August 12 in AT&T company owned retail stores and online at www.att.com/blackberrytorch, as well as Best Buy, Wal-Mart and RadioShack stores.
The BlackBerry Torch 9800 will be available for $199.99 with 2-year service agreement on a qualifying rate plan and smartphone data plan required. New smartphone customers may choose from two AT&T monthly data plan options, $15 for 200 MB of wireless data or $25 for 2 GB. Enterprise and small business customers should contact their account representative for pricing details.
Waterloo, ON - Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced BlackBerry® 6, a new operating system for BlackBerry® smartphones that retains the trusted features that distinguish the BlackBerry brand while delivering a fresh, approachable and engaging experience that is both powerful and easy to use. BlackBerry 6 features a redesigned interface that seamlessly works with a touch screen and trackpad, expanded messaging capabilities that simplify managing social media and RSS feeds, an advanced multimedia experience that rivals the best in the industry, a convenient new Universal Search tool, and a new and efficient WebKit-based browser that renders web pages quickly and beautifully for a great browsing experience.
"BlackBerry 6 is the outcome of RIM's ongoing passion to deliver a powerful, simplified and optimized user experience for both touch screen and keyboard fans," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-ceo, Research In Motion. "Following extensive research and development to address consumer needs and wants, we are delivering a communications, browsing and multimedia experience that we think users will love, and we are thrilled to debut BlackBerry 6 on the amazing new BlackBerry Torch smartphone."
Visual, Fluid Interface
BlackBerry 6 has been redesigned making it easier and more intuitive, with clean, sleek visuals and natural, fluid navigation. Designed to be both fresh and familiar, the new interface enables a productive, fun and highly satisfying user experience whether using a touch screen or trackpad and keyboard.
BlackBerry 6 offers multiple views that help users better organize their applications and content. Icons are arranged on the Home Screen in 5 customizable views (All, Favorites, Media, Downloads and Frequent) that are navigable with simple swipes. Users can organize where they want their icons to appear, and can add contacts or web page shortcuts directly to the Home Screen.
Also new to BlackBerry 6 are visually-rich, context-sensitive Action Menus. Within a given application, by clicking and holding the trackpad or through an extended touch of the display, users can bring the most common actions or tasks of an application to the surface. In addition, users can seamlessly multitask by holding down the Menu key, which pops up a visual grid of all the applications currently running, so users can instantly switch between applications.
A powerful Universal Search tool is also accessible from the Home Screen. By simply clicking or tapping the Universal Search icon, users can search for any content on their handset, the web or in the new BlackBerry App World™, which is also integral to BlackBerry 6.
Fast Rich Web Browsing
BlackBerry 6 integrates a new and efficient WebKit-based browser that renders web pages (as well as email) quickly and beautifully for a great browsing experience. It features tabs for accessing multiple sites simultaneously, an auto-wrap text zoom feature that can intelligently wrap text in a column while maintaining the placement of a page's key elements, and pinch to zoom.
Social Feeds and Text Messaging
The new Social Feeds application simplifies the management of social networking and RSS feeds and provides integrated access to the native BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™), Facebook®, Twitter™, MySpace™, AOL® Instant Messenger™, Google Talk™, Windows Live™ Messenger and Yahoo!® Messenger applications for BlackBerry smartphones. Social Feeds streamlines the user experience, provides an integrated view of friends' activities across multiple social networks, and let's users post updates across multiple networks simultaneously. Users can also easily add their favorite RSS Feeds from the Social Feeds application or directly from a website while browsing.
RIM's new Text Messages application also adds exciting new features for users who communicate mostly via SMS and MMS, including the ability for users to now view a conversation in one threaded 'chat' as well as share photos, videos and other rich content.
Engaging Multimedia Experience
The multimedia experience in BlackBerry 6 is designed to give users a more engaging and streamlined experience with album art everywhere in the new music and video players. The new BlackBerry® Desktop Software 6 integrates media sync for easily syncing photos and videos as well as iTunes® and Windows Media® Player music with the smartphone*. It also includes Wi-Fi Music Sync, a unique feature that allows users to view their entire iTunes® or Windows Media® Player music libraries from their BlackBerry smartphone, create and edit playlists, as well as select music for download. When in range of their home Wi-Fi network (or via USB), the changes are synced with iTunes® or Windows Media® Player and the songs are automatically downloaded to the smartphone.
BlackBerry 6 also gives users access to a range of camera modes that can help them capture better images. Editing, organizing and sharing shots is amazingly simple, with intuitive options for grouping pictures.
The new Podcasts application makes it easy for users to find and manage audio and video podcasts. Users can view all the podcasts saved on their smartphone, browse a catalogue of podcasts available for download, subscribe to them, and wirelessly download the content directly onto their smartphone. There is also a dedicated YouTube® application, so viewing and sharing videos is easier than ever and users can also easily search for videos using the new Universal Search tool in BlackBerry 6.
Compatibility with Existing BlackBerry Smartphones
BlackBerry 6 will debut on the new BlackBerry® Torch™ smartphone (announced today) available from AT&T on August 12 and it is also designed to run on select BlackBerry smartphones already in market. Subject to carrier certifications in the months ahead, the new OS is expected to be available for the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9700, BlackBerry® Bold™ 9650 and BlackBerry® Pearl™ 3G, as well as future BlackBerry smartphones.