BlackBerry 7 OS, new Torch and Bold phones launched

RIM launched its updated operating system for BlackBerry today, as well as five new phones supporting the OS.

BlackBerry 7 OS comes with a browser 40 per cent faster than its predecessor, with the most powerful rendering tool in BlackBerry's history.

The updated BBM includes a host of new socially-orientated features, particularly in the latest iteration of BlackBerry Messeger (BBM).

For businesses, BlackBerry 7 OS offers users the ability to share information within apps via BBM, offering greater collaboration capabilities.

"We're brining a revolutionary social app experience," said Rob Orr, RIM's vice president for product management in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), at the launch in London this morning. "What were once solitary experiences are becoming social experiences."

Augmented reality features have been added too, thanks to RIM's tie up with Mobile Easy, allowing users to learn more about the world around them.

Business users will be pleased to see the premium version of Documents To Go is now included free of charge.

"We're going to bring more and more people into the community with BlackBerry 7 OS," said Patrick Spence, managing director for global sales and regional marketing at RIM.

New phones

A total of five new phones running on BlackBerry OS 7 were also announced by RIM the Torch 9810, 9850 and 9860, as well as the Bold 9900 and 9930 models.

The Bold models are the thinnest BlackBerrys ever made at just 10.5mm thick, with brushed stainless steel frame and a 1.2 Ghz processor, 5MP camera, 768 MB RAM, 8GB onboard memory and NFC capabilities.

BlackBerry Bold

The Torch 9810 comes in at 11.5mm thick as well as the largest resolution BlackBerry screen ever, measuring in at 3.7 inch.

Torch 9810

The Torch 9850 and 9860 phones are touchscreen only, as RIM wants to appeal to users hungry for that form factor. The phones have the largest display on a BlackBerry smartphone to date.

Torch 9860

"We're really going to be able to address that form factor (pure touch) and join the BB community," Spence said.

"RIM's new BlackBerry smartphones could well be the most important devices in the Canadian smart device vendor's history, following a recent slowdown in device shipments, staff cuts and doubts over the company's strategy and leadership," said Ovum principal analyst Tony Cripps.

"On the face of it the two new Bold devices and three new full touchscreen Torch models look competitive. The latest BlackBerry 7 OS and much-improved BlackBerry Browser certainly seem to offer a compelling device-side user experience, one very much comparable to the oft-maligned PlayBook tablet. However, the real proof of the pudding is whether that software-driven experience captures the imagination of third parties who might wish to write and deploy applications or content to those devices. "

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.