The BlackBerry Torch is the best BlackBerry mobile device there has been yet, according to AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega at the devices' introduction. It pairs BlackBerry 6 OS with a touch screen and keyboard.
Research In Motion, with carrier partner AT&T, introduced the BlackBerry
Torch in New York Aug. 3. The
honors of revealing the device went to AT&T CEO
Ralph de la Vega, who, pulling it from the breast pocket of his suit to hold
aloft for the assembled audience, insisted it was, "The best BlackBerry
The BlackBerry Torch is the first handset to run BlackBerry 6 OS-the
new operating system that RIM has been sharing details about.
It's also the
first to pair a BlackBerry keyboard with an optical trackpad and a full
touch-screen experience-or, to be exact, a 3.2-inch capacitive touch display
with a resolution of 360 by 480.
A slim slider, the Torch measures 2.4 by 0.57 by 4.4 inches (5.8 inches when
it's open), weighs 5.68 ounces and includes 4GB of built-in storage, a memory
card slot for up to 32GB more and a 624MHz processor with 512MB of Flash memory.
It will be available exclusively from AT&T beginning Aug. 12, for $199 with
a two-year contract.
For a look at the BlackBerry Torch, click here.
AT&T is of course also the exclusive provider of the Apple iPhone, and
has taxed its network and its resources in the effort to transition to 4G. That
the network might find it challenging to additionally support "the best
BlackBerry ever" appeared not to be a concern for de la Vega, who
additionally told the audience, noting the rise of smartphones and connected
devices and the increasing prominence of fast broadband networks: "The U.S.
was a laggard, but that's no longer the case. The U.S.
is now the leader!"
The Torch is the first BlackBerry handset with a WebKit browser and
subsystem-it's named, after all, after the Web
browser developer Torch Mobile that RIM acquired
a year ago, said RIM
Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis.
"It's not only fresh and exciting but familiar," said Lazaridis,
reiterating a major theme for the Torch. "You'll notice we spent a lot of
time on the details."
These details include a Universal Search feature that lets users search the
device or extend that search to the Web. When displaying Web pages, the Torch auto-wraps
text when one zooms in on it, reformatting the article to read like an e-mail.
There's also a redesigned multimedia environment that, among other features,
simplifies the management of social networks and RSS feeds. Messaging has also
been simplified, with greater fluidity between applications.
The Torch also has a 5-megapixel camera that's complemented with location
awareness-which also works to inform location-based applications. And while
users can watch video over 3G or WiFi connections, they can also enjoy a host
of applications, such as PrimeTime2Go, which can be programmed to record a
user's favorite shows for later viewing.
Gartner Analyst Carolina Milanesi, in a
following the announcement, noted that touch-enabled devices have
of course been popular for some time now, and RIM first jumped on the trend
with its Storm and Storm 2 handsets. However, the RIM operating system that
worked well with the BlackBerry keypad-a favored feature among RIM users, who
tend to be heavy e-mailers and text-senders-worked less well with the touch
interfaces on those devices.
"The Torch bridges these two use cases to offer a more traditional
solution to RIM's core users with the added bonus of a new OS that improves the
touch experience," Milanesi wrote. "It will certainly offer a nice
upgrade path for Bold users."
Analysts have suggested that RIM needs
a new winning device
to more effectively compete against the Apple iPhone
and Android-running handsets in North America. But while
Milanesi said the Torch is likely to prevent BlackBerry customers from
straying, "I do not think we will see users moving in the other direction
because of the Torch," she forecast.
For AT&T, however, which is expected to lose its exclusive rights to the
iPhone in early 2011, the Torch is "certainly a good-to-have device,"
Milanesi wrote, "as speculations around the end of the iPhone exclusivity