RIM unveils five Blackberry 7 Bold and Torch smartphones

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has unveiled five smartphone handsets running the Blackberry 7 operating system (OS).

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Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has unveiled five smartphone handsets running the Blackberry 7 operating system (OS).

The smartphones include US-only Bold 9930 and Torch 9850. The Torch 9860 (pictured on the left), Torch 9810 and Bold 9900 (pictured on the right) will be available in the UK.

The new handsets mark the company's largest global launch, RIM said in a statement.

"This is the largest global launch of Blackberry smartphones in our history," said Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO at RIM.

"The Blackberry solution offers a best-in-class mobile communications experience that customers love and we think they will be thrilled by the faster performance, enhanced browsing and richer multimedia delivered by these powerful new Blackberry Bold and Blackberry Torch smartphones," he added.

Blackberry OS 7, which was showcased at Blackberry World, includes voice-activated searching as well as support for HTML 5 in the web browser. RIM claims web browsing is up to 40% faster on OS 7 compared with smartphones running Blackberry 6.

"Particular attention has been paid to further improving web browsing, incorporating HTML 5 capabilities, and to usability, with a range of improvements to the user interface that have improved the overall Blackberry experience," said Pete Cunningham, principal analyst at Canalys.

Blackberry Torch 9810 features a touch display and slide-out keyboard, while Torch 9850 and 9860 feature an "all-touch design". The Bold 9900 and 9930 are the first Blackberry smartphones to include built-in support for near-field communications (NFC).

"The support of NFC in OS 7 should not be underestimated. It is an acknowledgement of the importance of this feature to RIM's operator partners and it is an area in which Canalys expects to see significant activity and growth in 2012," said Cunningham.

Ben Wood, mobile and wireless industry analyst for CCS Insight, said the Bold handsets, rather than Torch devices, will be key for RIM's existing customers.

"The full touch device looks nice, but for hardcore RIM users the querty [keyboard] is a massively important element. Having tried the Torch 9810, touch screen text entry does not come close," he said.

The new Blackberry smartphones will start shipping in August 2011.

The latest update of Blackberry Messenger (BBM) allows developers to embed the Blackberry instant messaging platform within third-party apps.

RIM recently announced plans to axe 2,000 jobs to cut costs.

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