Live Photos From New York: The BlackBerry 9800 Torch Smart Phone Unveiled!

Alan Fackler

NEW YORK—Research in Motion and AT&T this morning announced the BlackBerry 9800 Torch smartphone. The device combines a 3.2-inch 480-by-360-pixel touchscreen display with a sliding QWERTY keyboard, and BlackBerry’s latest operating system—BlackBerry OS 6. Priced at $199 with a two-year AT&T contract and compatible data plan starting at $15 per month, it will be available beginning August 12.

The first BlackBerry to feature both a touchscreen and sliding keyboard, the Torch includes a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with flash, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a UMTS 3G wireless radio. The device does not include the controversial click screen featured on the BlackBerry Storm and Storm 2.

The BlackBerry 9800 Torch is the first smartphone from Research in Motion to feauture both a touchscreen and sliding QWERTY keyboard.

The Torch is the first device to feature BlackBerry OS 6, which provides additional services and features without completely overhauling the interface. “This is a new OS and UI that is not only fresh and exciting, but it’s also familiar,” Research in Motion President Mike Lazaridis said at Tuesday’s launch event in New York City. “If you’ve ever used a BlackBerry, you’ll instantly know how to use this.”

The new device and OS will ship with a variety of pre-installed applications, such as CNN, ESPN, YouTube, and MobiTV. Users will also be able to add applications with ease, thanks to the overhauled BlackBerry App World, which supports additional payment methods, including direct AT&T billing, PayPal, and credit cards. Previous versions had been limited to PayPal transactions.

The BlackBerry 99800 Torch's touchscreen is fixed, unlike the clickable touchscreen included with the Storm and Storm 2.

One of OS 6’s banner features, Universal Search takes cues from Apple’s iOS 4, by offering seamless searching of device-based content and contacts, as well as Internet content, such as YouTube videos and Google search. Universal Search will also support third-party applications, allowing users to search for a musical artist and instantly play Slacker content from that artist, for example.

BlackBerry OS 6 also revamps access to social media content, such as AIM conversations, Twitter feeds, and Facebook content, among other services. Users can access all of their social media content directly through Universal Search.

The BlackBerry Torch includes additional features, such as Wi-Fi Media Synch, with support for iTunes and DRM-Free Windows Media Player content. OS 6 also includes advanced BBM Group Messaging, which supports group chats with up to 10 contacts.

RIM has not announced BlackBerry OS 6 compatibility with previous BlackBerry devices.

The BlackBerry 9800 Torch includes 4GB of Flash memory and a 4GB MicroSD card, measures 0.58-inches, and weighs 5.7 ounces. The device ships with a 1300 mAHr Lithium battery with up to 5.8 hours of UMTS talk time. Priced at $199, the Torch will be available directly from AT&T beginning on August 12. International availability has not yet been announced.

Check out additional pictures on the next page.

Ralph De La Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, introduces the Blackberry 9800 Torch at Tuesday's launch event in New York City.

Research in Motion Founder and CEO Mike Lazaridis talks about his company's partnership with AT&T at Tuesday's BlackBerry 9800 Torch launch event in New York.

The BlackBerry 9800 torch combines a 3.2 inch 480-by-360-pixel touchscreen disdplay with a sliding QWERTY keyboard.

Pictured with the BlackBerry Bold 9650 (right), the 9800 Torch offers additional hardware features with a similar footprint.

Around the web