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BlackBerry’s new smartphones: Bold enough to compete?

BlackBerry’s new smartphones: Bold enough to compete?

There’s no denying that BlackBerry has an intensely loyal bunch of customers. But with Research in Motion’s (RIM) dwindling financial figures and smartphone share down to just 11.6 per cent according to IDC research, its new Torch and Bold phones are going to have to do some serious business between now and Christmas.

So have the phones got what it takes to succeed? Or will they just be left behind by the iPhone 5 and a whole slew of new Google Android devices?

The BlackBerry Torch 9860 is undoubtedly RIM’s big hope. Slim and with a full touchscreen, it’s the device that the Canadian mobile-maker expects to give Apple and Google plenty to think about. But on paper at least, that seems a tall order.

BlackBerry Torch 9860

720p video is decent, but with full HD video now starting to become standard at the top-end in terms of Android and the iPhone 5 also likely to make the jump to top-notch video this feels like a missed opportunity.

Likewise, a five megapixel camera really isn’t up to snuff. The design, however, is certainly sleek and marks a huge improvement on the hulking, ugly Storm.

The Torch 9810 builds on last year’s original slider Torch, with the same HD video smarts and 1.2GHz processor to keep things ticking along. But again, the specs feel resolutely upper mid-level.

There’s nothing screaming out here that’ll make potential tech-hungry owners switch to BlackBerry. Of course, specs aren’t the whole story and the proof comes from a decent period of usage. But surely Google and Apple will trump this device, on paper at least, very quickly?

The Bold 9900 is a slightly different case, offering as it does the classic form factor still so beloved by businesses the world over.

The touchscreen is welcome, but really such input doesn’t matter when you’ve got a hulking QWERTY panel sitting underneath. The biggest concern, however, is the development of BlackBerry 7 OS, which is the bedrock of all RIM’s incoming handsets.

BlackBerry Bold 9900

The QNX operating system working under the hood of the BlackBerry PlayBook has been widely heralded as a smart piece of software and something which some had hoped would land on a BlackBerry smartphone sooner rather than later.

Yes there’s better HTML5 support, tweaked browser and a new Balance feature to separate work and play. But last December RIM’s co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said a phone with QNX would land when dual-core processors were ready. Well, dual core is here now and we’re still waiting.

BlackBerry 7 is essentially a tickled version of OS 6. It’s not the intuitive operating system that RIM needs in order to give iOS and Android a run for its money.

The new Torch and Bold phones look solid if not startling. But their lack of QNX means they’ll struggle to give RIM the extra market share it so desperately wants.

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