RIM recently re-launched its smartphone range, introducing four handsets, each aimed at a different type of user. What the phones have in common is that they run Blackberry OS 7.
The latest version of the operating system has new refreshed icons and a browser 40% faster than Blackberry OS 6 and 100% faster than OS 5. Although we need to mention the QNX-enabled Blackberry Colt which could be landing next year.
With the Blackberry 9860 launching last weekend and the Blackberry Curve 9360 on the way very soon, here’s a quick look at the which phone is which in Blackberry’s new line-up.
Blackberry Bold 9900
With a huge QWERTY dominating the front, in looks the Bold 9900 is closest to the handset style traditionally associated with Blackberry.
Build quality is excellent. The stunning, well-built combination of stainless steel and glass that feels fantastic to hold, but at 10.5mm deep it still manages to be the slimmest Blackberry to date.
The 2.8-inch screen 640×480 screen is small, but exceptionally bright thanks to Liquid Graphics Technology. Navigate by tapping the responsive screen or and the touch-sensitive trackpad.
Typing is a breeze and you get access to push-email and the handset can be used with Blackberry Bridge to get online using the Playbook tablet.
Powered by a 1.2Ghz processor, the phone feels very quick to use, with a respectable 728Mb RAM. Connections include: micro USB and a 3.5 mm jack, while the on-board camera is a respectable 5-megapixels and can capture 720p HD videos.
The Bold 9900 is the first Blackberry device to include an NFC chip for contact-less payments and although a there are very few places it can be used, it’s a sign RIM is future proofing.
Who should buy? The Bold 9900 is for the Blackberry hardcore, whose priority is messaging, with a touch of browsing thrown in.
Blackberry Torch 9810
Retaining the full QWERTY and 3.2-inch screen of the successful 9800, the 9810 bridges the gap between the solid QWERTY of the 9900 and the full touchscreen of the 9810, albeit with a slightly lower resolution of 640×480.
At 11.5mm deep, it’s slim for a Blackberry, but (unsurprising) considering there’s a full QWERTY keyboard, it’s not as slim as the iPhone 4.
Clearly the 9810 is designed to suit heavy messagers, yet the screen is still a big enough size to provide a comfortable multimedia and browsing experience with Liquid Graphics.
Sliding out from under the touchscreen, the keyboard is smaller than the Bold and it lacks that handsets premium feel.
It offers the same 5-megapixel camera/720p HD shooting mode as the other Blackberry phones, along with the combination of 8GB internal memory and microSD slot. But there’s no NFC….
Who should buy it? The Torch 9810 is a good option for anyone who wants to use the core functions like BBM and emailer, without losing the touchscreen browsing experience.
Blackberry Torch 9860
The Torch 9600 stray into different territory for RIM, there’s no solid QWERTY, instead all navigation is performed using the 3.7-inch screen.
With four buttons underneath it’s appearance has more in common with the Android smartphones – in short the appearance is much more conventional.
Like the Bold 9900 it uses Liquid Graphics technology and from our hands-on time provides a quick browsing experience on the high-res 800×480 screen. It’s the first time Blackberry OS 7 has been used on a full touchscreen phone
Spec-wise the Torch 9860 is very similar to the Torch 9810. It has a 1.2Ghz processor and 768MB RAM. Unlike high-end Android rivals like the Sensation, it isn’t dual-core processor though, instead pitched more against the HTC Incredible S.
Built-in memory is 4GB, slightly lower than the Torch 9810, although there’s a microSD slot and no NFC. The camera is the same though, shooting 5-megapixel stills and 720p HD movies.
Who should buy it? We haven’t had much hands-on time yet, but without a solid keyboard, it seems to suit the iPhone/Android generation for browsing and multimedia.
Blackberry Curve 9360
The Curve sub-range has always been the affordable alternative to the Bold, designed for the cash-conscious consumer and the younger audience.
Of course the main compromise is the build. The handset lacks the premium feel of the Bold 9900, but still feels solid and well built.
Another major compromise is the screen, which isn’t touch responsive. At 2.44-inches the resolution is a lower 480×360 (although this is higher than the older Bold 9780), which is still respectable and similar to it’s rivals in this category like the HTC ChaCha.
Likewise the 800Mhz processor (with 512MB RAM) won’t be as lightening quick as its 1.2Ghz rivals, but quick enough for most activities and it’s worth point out, it’s the same speed as the HTC Incredible S.
In terms of software however, there are few compromises. The layout is the same, with the same icons (albeit not as sharp), homescreens and features like Social Feeds and of course Blackberry Messenger 6, with it’s social integration.
Elsewhere, the camera captures 5-megapixel still, although the movie resolution is VGA (640×480) instead of VGA, which we don’t think is a major compromise – most people who buy the Curve 9360 will be using it for short clips. Connections include a 3.5mm jack, micro USB and surprisingly for a handset at this price bracket – NFC.
Who should buy it? Any RIM fan who can’t afford a Blackberry Bold 9900