BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. introduced five new handsets that run on its new BlackBerry 7 mobile OS, in a bid to regain ground against rivals like Apple Inc.
The new smartphones -- which include two BlackBerry Bold models and three new BlackBerry Torch devices, of which two feature full-touch screens -- are the first overhaul of the handsets in a year. The handsets are expected to become available to consumers worldwide in late August from carriers including Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile .
"This is the largest global launch of BlackBerry smartphones in our history," Mike Lazardis, RIM's president and co-CEO, said in a statement.
All five of the devices include an improved 1.2GHz processor, a high resolution display, 768MB of RAM/ up to 8GB of on-board memory and expanded up to 32GB, a 5MP camera with HD video recording, zoom and flash, as well as standard connectivity features of WiFi and GPS.
The Bold, however, appears to be the only device to feature near field communication.
"We believe these features are competitive compared to other devices in the market," said Barclays Capital analyst Jeff Kvaal. "The improved processing speed in particular, doubling that of the first Torch 9800 launched in the summer 2010, is nice to see, though expected, given previous negative commentary on the power of RIM's devices."
Kvaal said the Torch 9800 featured RIM's fastest processor at the time of the launch but feedback thus far suggests that it is still slow at times.
In particular, Kvaal expects RIM to regain some lost share in the U.S. smartphone market in the second half of 2011, giving the Canadian company a boost for the upcoming holiday season.
The highlights of all the five new BlackBerry devices include:
-- Improved browser with a faster, more fluid browsing experience. Tests showed that the new browser delivered results that were up to 40 percent faster than the browser on OS 6.
-- Other features include zooming and panning for smoother web navigation. The new browser will support HTML5 for gaming and video.
-- Liquid Graphics technology supports a higher resolution display and more responsive touch interface. Pixel resolution at 640x480 for the 9810 and 800x480 for the Bold and Torch compared to 450x360 on the previous Torch. This is equal to modestly below that of competitors of the Apple Inc.'s iPhone (960x640), Motorola Droid 3 (960x540), and the HTC Thunderbolt and Samsung Charge (800x480).
-- Integrated BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) across a range of other apps. For example, the new Facebook app will include BBM integration.
-- Enterprise focus with the inclusion of both Documents To Go as well as BlackBerry Balance. BlackBerry Balance was first introduced at RIM's analyst day and essentially allows your BlackBerry for both work and personal uses. This is RIM's response to the increased trend of bringing your own device to work.