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BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860

 BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Available now
3th August 2011

At first glance, the BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860 devices look like a standard black slabby smartphone that you might find running Android. But of course this is a BlackBerry, and it runs the latest version of RIM's proprietary BlackBerry OS, called BlackBerry 7.

This version of the BlackBerry Torch is one of three new devices running BlackBerry 7 along with the already announced BlackBerry Bold 9900 and the new BlackBerry Torch 9810. BlackBerry 7 is a much needed update to attempt to bring the BlackBerry user interface up to the standards that customers expect having seen rival Android and iPhone devices. Whether or not this will be successful remains to be seen - the recent BlackBerry 5 and 6 OSes were a pretty poor attempt to spruce up an obviously archaic user interface.

 BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 The hardware specification is very reminiscent of the current crop of rival Android devices. On the front is a 3.7" 480 x 800 pixel TFT display, on the back is a 5 megapixel camera with 720p video capture capabilities. Inside is a 1.2 GHz CPU with 768MB of RAM. This is coupled with the usually efficient BlackBerry OS, so you can expect the Torch 9850 / 9860 to be very fast indeed.

All the usual smartphone features are here, including GPS (with BlackBerry Maps), an accelerometer and compass, microSD expandable memory plus 4GB internal flash, Bluetooth and WiFi support. Software includes a web browser, email client and of course BlackBerry devices are well known for excellent email support. There's a comparatively modest software library available for BlackBerry handsets, although not a patch on the range available for Android or the iPhone.

 BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 The difference between the 9850 and 9860 models is in the cellular radio. The 9850 is a US version with CDMA/EVDO, quad-band GSM and UMTS 2100 support. The 9860 is a world model with quad-band GSM and either tri-band or quad-band UMTS depending on exact model. The 1230 mAh battery will give over 6 hours talktime on both models and between 11 and 13 days standby time, and the whole package measures 120 x 62 x 12mm and weighs 135 grams.

RIM are competing with a mass of Android handsets head-on, although realistically they are unlikely to get customers to ditch their Droid and move over to a Torch. However, it could stem the flow of customers to rivals, especially in the US, as the Torch 9850 and 9860 offer many of the advantages of rival smartphones but with the familiar BlackBerry environment.

RIM say that the Torch 9850 and 9860 should be available later this month from carriers around the world. No guidance was given on price, but we would expect the handset to retail for around €500 to €550 at launch.

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BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 at a glance

Available:

August 2011

Network:

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
CDMA/EVDO 800 / 1900 (9850) +
UMTS 2100 (9850) or
UMTS 2100 / 1900 / 850 / 800 (9860) or
UMTS 2100 / 1700 / 900 (9860)

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSPA + WiFi
+ EVDO (9850 only)

Screen:

3.7" 480 x 800 pixels

Camera:

5 megapixels

Size:

Medium tablet smartphone
120 x 62 x 12mm / 135 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

MicroSD

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

GPS:

Yes

OS:

BlackBerry 7

Battery life:

6 hours talk / 11-13 days standby (3G)

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