Research In Motion on Tuesday introduced the BlackBerry Torch, a touch-screen and sliding-keyboard device that will be the first to feature the sixth version of the company's phone software.
The phone, which goes on sale August 12 will be an AT&T exclusive. New or otherwise upgrade-eligible customers will be able to get it for $199 with a two-year contract. There's no word yet on whether it's available without a contract, and, if so, how much it will cost without a contract.
The marquee feature of the device, besides the touch screen and QWERTY combination (which Palm did with the Pre), is the inclusion of the BlackBerry 6 operating system, which features a WebKit-based Web browser, universal search, and contextual menus. RIM has also built in a social-feeds application that can group together updates from several social networks, and pipe them into one stream.
During the press conference about the device, RIM's CTO David Yach was keen to note that the BlackBerry 6 OS will work with all previous BlackBerry applications. The company is also releasing new APIs that will let developers build BlackBerry 6 OS features into their apps, such as integration with the new system search.
While there was no support for Adobe Flash announced, the new Webkit browser supports HTML5, which has been a selling point by Apple and Google on their mobile devices.
On the hardware side, the phone features a 3.2-inch diagonal capacitive touch screen with a 480x360 (HVGA+) resolution, and 4GB of built-in memory and 512MB of Flash memory. That can also be expanded up to 32GB through the device's MicroSD/SDHC card slot. There is a 5-megapixel camera with a flash. RIM has also built in an image stabilizer--something few smartphones have. Additionally the camera software supports geotagging with the phone's built-in GPS unit, as well as autofocus.
Other notable specs include 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, a quad-band antenna, 18 days of standby on GSM, 30 hours of music playback with the built-in media player, and 6 hours of video playback--all with a removable battery.