Enterprise Mobility: BlackBerry Torch 9850, 9860: RIM Goes All-Touch

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-09-26 Print this article Print


The new BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860 embrace the current smartphone trend of a touch screen sans physical keyboard, a significant departure from the "traditional" BlackBerry model of physical QWERTY keyboard paired to a smaller screen.??í
Research In Motion is undergoing an evolutionary shift. To better compete with sophisticated competitors such as Apple's iPhone and the growing ranks of Google Android devices, the company is planning a series of QNX-powered "superphones" expected to make their debut within the next few quarters. Until those devices reach the market, however, RIM hopes that a new set of BlackBerry smartphones running the latest version of its current operating system—that'd be BlackBerry 7 OS, for those of you keeping score at home—will help retain its current customer base. In addition to refreshed smartphones with the "traditional" BlackBerry design (physical QWERTY keyboard paired to a smaller screen), RIM is releasing the BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860, which embraces the current smartphone trend of all-touch screen and virtual keyboard. How well does RIM play in that particular sandbox? The Torch's 3.7-inch screen, paired with a 1.2GHz processor, is responsive to touch, and is high-resolution enough to satisfy most users, whether they're answering email, cruising the Web or watching a video. In addition, BlackBerry 7 OS offers faster browsing and other tweaks to the interface, which could appeal to those dedicated fans of the BlackBerry franchise. However, in terms of innovation, RIM seems to be keeping the bulk of its powder dry for its QNX "smartphones:" What you have with the Torch 9850 and 9860 is a handsome update to the traditional BlackBerry, along with an affirmation that RIM can play the touch-screen-only game as good as anyone—but there's nothing here that represents a radical departure, good or bad, for the company.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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