When Research in Motion (RIM) announced on 3rd August that it was having the biggest global launch of BlackBerry smartphones with more than 225 partners around the world, we were eager to know if our sunny island would be one of them. After all, nobody wants to be left out of such major product launches. We were excited after receiving an invitation by RIM to a special preview session of the new BlackBerry 7 smartphones. We joined RIM this evening for some hands-on with the finest BlackBerry smartphones to date. Read on to find out more about the upcoming BlackBerry 7 smartphones:
Although the BlackBerry Torch 9810 looks no different from its predecessor, the BlackBerry Torch 9800, it is actually much more powerful. Under the hood lies a speedy 1.2GHz processor and 768MB of RAM, which is a significant upgrade from the 624MHz processor and 512MB of RAM in the 9800. You must be pondering why RIM decided to go ahead with a single core processor when the rest of the competition is charging ahead with dual-core mobile chipsets in their devices. According to RIM, dual-core processors currently have negative impacts on battery life. RIM believes in balancing between battery performance and providing an optimal user experience on its BlackBerry smartphones. After all, RIM is well-known for churning out devices with long lasting battery life.
Key highlights of the BlackBerry Torch 9810
Gone are the days of the SurePress technology that plagued the BlackBerry Storm2 9520 and Storm 9500. RIM hit the home run with the BlackBerry Torch 9860 by combining a generous 3.7-inch high resolution display with the fast and fluid BlackBerry 7 experience. The Torch 9860 also claims the honor of having the largest display ever featured on a BlackBerry smartphone. Moreover, the Torch 9860 touts the Liquid Graphics technology which delivers fast and smooth graphics.
Key highlights of the BlackBerry Torch 9860
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is nothing new to us since our hands-on during CommunicAsia 2011 in June. To find out more about the BlackBerry Bold 9900, click here. For the benefit of those who want a summary of what the Bold 9900 has to offer, here is a quick recap of the features of the Bold 9900. It is not only the thinnest BlackBerry smartphone at 10.5mm, it is also one of the fastest with a 1.2GHz single-core processor. Those who prefer QWERTY smartphones will definitely love the Bold 9900 as it has the best in class wide QWERTY keyboard, similar to the one on the Bold 9000.
Being the flagship Bold model, RIM uses a brushed stainless steel frame that is designed with precision for both performance and functionality. When asked if there is going to be a white variant of the Bold 9900, RIM acknowledged that there are different segments in the consumer market that have color preferences, and hence will continue to explore the possibility of offering one. However, it is too early to determine if a white Bold 9900 will be available anytime soon.
Key highlights of the BlackBerry Torch 9900
We had mixed feelings about the BlackBerry 7 OS. After two hands-on sessions and a preview of the new BlackBerry smartphones, we felt happy that RIM has stepped out from the shadow of dated user interfaces. The BlackBerry 7 OS looked promising with its next generation browser that offers a faster and more fluid web browsing experience. We also liked the Liquid Graphics technology that could hold its own against the likes of Super AMOLED screens (from Samsung) and Retina displays (from Apple).
However, we wondered if these changes came a little too late as RIM has been losing market share to its competitors. In addition, we felt that RIM is always a few steps behind the competition with its offerings. Although BlackBerry 7 OS offers a refreshing look, many would find it inferior compared to Apple iOS and Google Android especially in the aspect of user interface and app numbers.
While it is known that future BlackBerry smartphones will be running on the QNX OS, RIM has not provided us with a specific time frame as to when we can expect the first QNX-powered device to arrive in the market although we were told to keep a lookout in 2012. RIM also made clear that the BlackBerry 7 OS currently provides a compelling user experience for its users while it runs further testing and evaluation on the QNX OS.
We also asked RIM on its plans for the upcoming BlackBerry DevCon Asia in December. RIM's response was that the focus would be on app development in Asia Pacific as the region is increasingly important. BlackBerry devices are ranked the number one smartphone in several countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. They aim to accelerate app growth by providing a wealth of tools, services and supports for developers.
Moreover, RIM is facing competition in areas that they are once considered invincible. For example, the upcoming launch of iOS 5 will bring iMessage to Apple iPhones. When asked to comment on the threat of iMessage, RIM stated that it believes strongly in the BlackBerry Messenger platform as it has been tested and proven over the years to be a reliable, stable instant messaging service. RIM also claimed that BlackBerry Messenger provides a superior instant messaging experience over competing services.