RIM has announced two of their long-leaked devices this morning: the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and the BlackBerry Torch 9850/60. Both are confirmed to have 1.2 GHz processors and 768 MB of RAM. As expected, the Torch 9810 will beat out the 9850/60 on local storage with 8 GB versus 4 GB, but that’s more or less evened out when you put microSD cards into the mix. The screen sizes and resolutions are also confirmed to be 3.7 inches and 800 x 480 for the 9850/60, and 3.2 inches at 640 x 480 for the Torch 9810. A nice little surprise for the BlackBerry 9810 is that it will be UMA-capable, allowing for calls over Wi-Fi if the carrier supports it. They’ll both have magnetic compasses, enabling augmented reality apps. They’ll also both be running the new OS 7 software, which has a handful of user experience improvements, like voice-activated universal search, and a new rendering engine that should make navigation and web browsing much more smooth. RIM is being coy with some of the specifics however; the Bold 9900/30, which was announced a few months ago as the first OS 7 device, is the only one mentioned to have NFC capabilities.
With all of that being said, the only real discernible difference between the two devices is the form factor. The 9850/60 will have the added flexibility of both CDMA and GSM models being available, but all of the important features are consistent across both smartphones. NFC remains the wild card, and may very well be the one thing that puts the Bold 9900/30 ahead of the whole bunch, but that remains to be seen. As far as marketing goes, I’m still not entirely sold on naming the 9850/60 a Torch. I get that RIM wanted to get away from the negative stigma of the Storm brand, and the Torch was already well established, but it feels like the character of the name is watered-down when it’s shared by two devices that really look nothing alike. How well will they do in the long run? I think that’s up in the air. BlackBerry as a whole has been getting knocked on pretty hard by the competition lately, but if these OS 7 devices can at least stay within arm’s reach of the current Android and iOS alternatives, RIM should be able to buy enough time before their dual-core QNX-powered handsets launch early next year.
We’re still expecting a few more OS 7 devices from RIM, including the Curve 9360, Bold 9790, and the BlackBerry Orlando, but if leaked release dates are any indication, those should be coming before the end of the year. No dates were given for the launch of the phones announced today, though RIM says this is their widest product launch to date, spanning 225 carriers which will include AT&T, Rogers, Telus, Bell, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular. I’ll be getting some hands-on time tonight with the two new devices tonight, so stick around for some video. In the meantime, you can check out the official features of the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and Torch 9850/60 at their respective landing pages.