Research in Motion (RIM) has launched the latest addition to its BlackBerry range, the much anticipated Torch slider touch-screen handset.
The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is the first to feature BlackBerry OS 6, an update to RIM's mobile OS which features multi-touch controls, better integration with social networks and a revamped browser.
The handset itself has the look and feel of the BlackBerry Storm, but the capacitive 480 x 360 3.2in touch screen slides up to reveal a standard BlackBerry keypad.
It also adds a 5-megapixel camera with flash, 512MB Flash and 4GB onboard storage, and a 624MHz processor. There is a video recorder, but it records in VGA rather than HD, and there is no video calling like Apple's FaceTime.
Wireless tethering is also possible with the Torch.
Push was a big feature of the launch event, and RIM demoed a push feed of various networks running on the Torch. This means that the device is pre-populated with updates from Twitter, YouTube and MySpace, as well as RSS feeds from the BBC or Google News, for example.
RIM was also very excited about its new universal search tool. This will let users search once and get results from across their entire device and applications, from Google and YouTube through to BBM and email messages.
The Torch also aims to offer a much improved browsing experience via the addition of the Webkit browser. The device's name comes from the acquisition of Torch Mobile about 18 months ago, which handed RIM the Webkit browser.
RIM said that Blackberry OS 6 will be available on two existing models, the 9700 and 9105, as well as the Torch and all future handsets.
The Torch is available from 12 August in the US, exclusive to the AT&T network. EMEA availability is due in the coming weeks, and will be offered through various operators.
Although EMEA pricing was not given, the US model will be sold at $199 (£125) on a $15 (£9.40) contract for 200MB or $25 (£15.70) for 2GB.
RIM will be hoping that the 9800 helps it gain market share over rivals such as struggling Nokia and mobile phone upstart Apple.
The Canadian firm is also rumoured to be working on a tablet device set for launch later this year. However, RIM refused to be drawn on any future releases at today's event.
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