The First BlackBerry 7 Phones Look Mighty FamiliarS

If you were hoping for a revolution with RIM's first BlackBerry 7 phones, you might as well throw yourself off a cliff while trying to send a BBM for help on the way down.

First up, the most pedestrian of the bunch is the Torch 9810 for AT&T, a steroid-injected refresh of the original Torch with a 1.2GHz processor, an "HD" 3.2-inch display with what RIM's calling "Liquid Graphics" for faster response, 8GB of onboard storage, 720p HD recording, HSPA+ connectivity and of course, BlackBerry OS 7. It'll land sometime this month.

Next, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 series is the mythical touchscreen BlackBerry Bold, which happens to be the thinnest BlackBerry ever. They've got the same 1.2GHz processor and 5MP camera, along with NFC powers. The touchscreen's a scant 2.8 inches, 'cause you've gotta fit that massive keyboard in there somewhere.

Finally, the confusingly branded Torch 9850/9860 for AT&T and Sprint is a totally touchscreen BlackBerry, with the biggest display RIM's put on a phone yet—3.7 inches. It's also got a trackpad. Otherwise, it's got the same guts as the Bold 9900. It and the Bold are officially slated to be landing this fall.

RIM's slowly moving in the right direction with these phones—they're finally on par hardware-wise with the rest of the world—but the big question is whether anyone is still interested in these BlackBerrys. Not just because Android's making great strides, Windows Phone's finally looking fantastic, and the iPhone 5 looms, but because BlackBerry 7 is essentially a stop-gap until the true next-gen BlackBerry is here, powered by the same QNX-heart as the BlackBerry PlayBook. [AT&T]