RIM released new BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Torch smartphone models on Wednesday, a year since it last released a phone.
Canadian-based Research in Motion released two new BlackBerry Bold models, the 9900 and 9930, and three new BlackBerry Torch models, the 9810, 9850, and 9860, which will all operate on the company's new BlackBerry 7 operating system.
"This is the largest global launch of BlackBerry smartphones in our history," said RIM's co-chief executive Mike Lazaridis in a statement. "We think customers will be thrilled by the improved performance and enriched mobile experiences delivered by these powerful new smartphones."
The Torch 9810, which will be the first to hit the market in the next few weeks, appears to mostly be an upgrade from last year's Torch 9800. The phone features a touch screen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a browser that is 40 percent faster than phones using the BlackBerry 6 OS and 100 percent faster than those still using the BlackBerry 5 OS.
The BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860 are the company's second and third forays into the all-touch screen smartphone realm. The company famously bombed its first attempt, the BlackBerry Storm, but is hoping that these two new phones will capture the attention of consumers and tap into the lucrative all-touch screen market.
The phones feature a 3.7 inch touch screen, a refined user interface for easy email usage and cameras that support HD video recording at 720p, among other features.
Videos of the BlackBerry Bold 9930 leaked last week on the Internet and reviews were mostly positive. The phone is billed as the thinnest BlackBerry ever yet and has the largest QWERTY keyboard to date. The phone will also feature near field communication (NFC), which will allow users to pay for items, such as PayPal, with their phones and without credit cards or cash.
Google and iPhone have also incorporated the technology in their phones.
In July, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis announced the company would be releasing seven BlackBerry 7 OS smartphones over the course of the year. Lazaridis stated that despite the delays in getting the phones to the market, which has erodes its market share, these new phones will help the company come out on top.
"It may have delayed us, but we are going to come out ahead," RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said.
The company has seen its share of problems this year, most notably drops in its stock price and smartphone market share, so it will be intriguing to see if these new phones can jumpstart it.
One of the biggest complaints against BlackBerry phones are the slow, clunky browser that is unable to compete against the quick download and easy-to-use browsers of the iPhone and Android. If it is actually a major improvement, it could at least maintain the phone's dwindling base versus losing them to Apple or Google, as recent studies and articles have implied.
At the very least RIM is hoping that these new BlackBerry 7 OS phones can work as an effective stopgap before the release of QNX-based phones next year. The company has a lot of hope riding on the QNX phones, and analysts and carriers have shown great interest, but it has yet to get the phones out to the market.
A strong sales showing with these new Bold and Torch phones could go a long way in keeping the company afloat before the QNX phones are released.
The phones will be released world-wide through over 200 carriers over the next few weeks.