RIM has not released any high-end smartphones for the best part of a year, and is aiming to make up lost ground by launching three major handsets from the end of August.
V3 got some precious hands-on time with the Bold 9900, Torch 2 and Torch 9860 and, judging by first impressions, RIM looks to be back on track after an unsteady start to 2011.
RIM was particularly keen to show off the Bold Touch, which is a significant improvement over previous models in the range. Although the Touch retains the familiar candy bar form factor, numerous changes have been made to the design.
The Touch weighs in at 110g and is just 10.5mm thick, making it RIM's thinnest device to date. Premium materials have been used to craft the 9900, and it really shows. The high-end look is perfectly illustrated by the distinctive stainless steel frame and the space age back cover. This is definitely the best looking RIM device to date.
As the name suggests, the Bold Touch will be the first in the range to have touch-screen functionality. This allows users to touch applications to open them, swipe between home screens, as well as scroll and pinch-to-zoom when viewing web pages.
The responsiveness of the touch screen was impressive, but it remains to be seen how well touch input will actually work on a display that is only 2.8in in size.
RIM has always had one of the best Qwerty keyboards on the market, and the firm has made the letters on the Touch a little bit bigger and reduced the annoying clicking sound. Another impressive feature is browsing, which RIM claims is 40 per cent faster. Anyone who has used a Bold will know that web pages can take an age to load over 3G, so this is an overdue improvement.
The Bold 9900 will ship with a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 768MB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. However, as the majority of smartphones now ship with dual-core processors and at least 1GB of RAM, RIM needs to improve in this area, much like HTC.
Meanwhile, we found the 3.7in Torch 9860 intriguing, although it is unlikely to make a significant dent in sales of the iPhone and high-end Android devices. Design-wise it is similar to the Google Nexus S, as it has a curved back.
RIM also showcased the BlackBerry Torch 2, which is more of a standard refresh. RIM has doubled the power of the handset and loaded BlackBerry 7 OS.
V3 will post full reviews of the BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900, Torch 2 and Torch 9860 soon.
A video demonstration of the Bold Touch is below:
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