According to Canalys Principal Analyst Chris Jones, Canadian phonemaker Research In Motion Ltd. (TSE:RIM) desperately needs to "continue to innovative and recapture lost momentum." Today RIM made
the first step towards that goal, but the question will inevitably whether it will be enough to right the ship.
RIM's partner carrier AT&T, Inc. (T) today pulled the wraps [press release] over RIM's next generation BlackBerry 7 OS series, to launch this August. The first model revealed might look a bit familiar -- it's the BlackBerry Torch with a slight hardware refresh.
The previous Torch -- the BlackBerry Torch 9800 -- came out approximately a year ago, in Aug. 2010 and was the first BlackBerry 6 OS device to launch. Despite falling a bit short of expectations, the Torch saw decent sales and placed sixth in IBTimes's 2010 list of top smart phones.
The new Torch -- the "4G" BlackBerry Torch 9810 -- adds a 3.5G HSPA+ modem (which AT&T rebrands as "4G"), for faster data traffic. It also significantly bumps the processor trading the slow 624 MHz Marvell Tavor PXA940 for an 1.2 GHz model from an undisclosed manufacturer. The NAND flash memory capacity is doubled from 4 GB to 8 GB.
The camera sticks at 5 MP, but it appears to have some sort of improvements as it can now take 720p video, versus the previous model which could only record at up to 480p. The display looks identical to the previous model at 3.2-inches.
AT&T describes RIM's new BlackBerry 7 OS, writing:
BlackBerry 7 OS delivers speed, efficiency and UI enhancements and enables new hardware capabilities, including HD video recording, more fluid and responsive graphics, digital compass, and augmented reality. Browsing with the new BlackBerry 7 based smartphones is up to 40% faster than BlackBerry® 6 based smartphones and up to 100% faster than BlackBerry® 5 based smartphones.
Intriguing, AT&T also announces a coming Torch-branded smart phone that's all touch screen. Hopefully RIM can pull this one off and deliver a solid all-touch phone this time around. Its only full-touch effort to date has been the problem-plagued Storm, which became the bunt of many a joke, even among RIM supporters. (To be fair, the second generation Storm did offer some modest improvements.) The new phone is branded the "4G" BlackBerry Torch 9860.
AT&T also announced a coming refresh of the popular "Bold" series. The new model will be branded the "4G'" BlackBerry Bold 9900. AT&T did not reveal any hardware details about the Bold 9900 or Torch 9860.
According to a preview in Engadget, the Bold 9900 will feature very similar specs to the new Torch, with a larger 2.8-inch display, a 1.2 GHz processor, a 720p-ready 5 MP camera, and a 10.5 mm thin case (on par with the iPhone 4).