Can the BlackBerry Torch relight RIM’s fire?

4 Aug 2010

With yesterday’s announcement of the new touchscreen BlackBerry Torch handset, RIM hopes to keep loyal users happy while catching up to the likes of Apple and HTC.

The BlackBerry Torch, when officially announced, was not unexpected as images and details of the handset had been leaked out months previously.

A touchscreen phone with a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard, the Torch also has the new BlackBerry 6 operating system that promises faster web browsing and a more integrated social-networking experience.

Like the interface of handsets including the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S, the Torch will have multiple, “swipe-able” screens, which are customisable, for housing apps.

The operating system allows for multitasking and has a feature called Action Menu: while inside any given app, clicking and holding down the trackpad or touching the screen for an extended period will bring up a menu of the most common actions associated with the app and will allow users to swap between multiple open apps.

It also has universal search and BlackBerry 6 brings faster web browsing with tabs and auto-wrap text zoom as well as pinch to zoom.

Social Feeds takes care of social networking and RSS feeds, and integrates BlackBerry Messenger as well as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger.

But what is that elephant in the room? Two, actually. Yes, the BlackBerry Storm and Storm 2. Panned by reviewers and doomed to oblivion, these were RIM’s first attempts at a touchscreen smartphone and while the Storm 2 improved on the clunky and awkward original, the damage had been done.

Thankfully, the Torch appears to be worlds apart, both in terms of design as well as user interface with the new OS.

“This is one of the most significant launches in RIM’s history and we are proud to introduce the new BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry 6 together with AT&T,” said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO, RIM.

“With a new user interface, new browser and new handset design, the highly anticipated BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry 6 deliver integrated and uncompromising capabilities for consumers and business professionals that preserve the industry-leading strengths of the BlackBerry platform while adding exciting new dimensions.”

While the Blackberry Torch is exclusively with AT&T in the US, there is no news as of yet about a European release date.