7 top things you need to know about BlackBerry 7
Research in Motion is the most beleagured mobile phone maker on the market these days. Its stock has taken a beating after losing market share to Apple and Android phones, down from a peak of $69 in February to the mid-20s. Industry sentiment is that the BlackBerry-maker needs to pull an impressive product out of its hat to regain investor confidence and win back users. With BlackBerry 7 OS, the fastest and sleekest BlackBerrys ever made are hitting the market now, and RIM is planning another revamp to its device lineup early next year. But are the offerings impressive enough to return this company to prosperity?
BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930
For BlackBerry diehards that can’t imagine a handheld device without a tactile keyboard, the Bold combines the best of both worlds. It has that familiar QWERTY key pad on the bottom half and a touch screen on the top half. The thinnest BlackBerry ever made, the smartphone is powered by a 1.2 Ghz processor, 768MB of RAM, and 8 GB of on-board memory, plus a 5 MP camera than can record HD video. The Bold has a 1230 mAh battery that should get you between 6.3 and 6.6 hours of talk time.
BlackBerry Torch 9810
Those who appreciated RIM’s flagship device when it debuted BlackBerry 6 have an upgrade in this new Torch. It’s slimmer, is powered by a 1.2 GHz processor, and has a 3.2-inch screen with a 640×480 resolution. The onboard memory is now a sizeable 8 GB, and the RAM has been boosted to 768 MB. The 5 MP camera now supports HD video recording and the battery lasts longer, providing up to 6.5 hours of talk time.
BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860
BlackBerry has done away with the Storm model and now offers an all-touch version of the Torch for those who can do without key pads. The 3.7-inch screen is the largest on a BlackBerry yet, with a resolution of 800×480 with 24-bit colour. The hardware specs are the same as the other new BlackBerrys, with 1.2 GHz processor, 768 MB of RAM, and a 5 MP camera. There is 4 GB of onboard storage, expandable with a micro SD card. The battery life will survive between 4.7 hours and 6.8 hours of talk time, according to RIM.
BlackBerry 7 OS
Continuing on the style of its BlackBerry 6 OS, Research in Motion has upgraded its OS with a flashier look (which it calls Liquid Graphics) and some new features. Office types will appreciate the Balance technology that puts a firewall up between personal and corporate data, so end-users can run their personal apps without risking corporate information. The new OS comes with a new WebKit browser that is said to be faster and supports HTML5. There’s also a built-in cloud-based backup system and support for near field communications (NFC) connectivity.
BlackBerry Messenger 6
Known simply as “BBM” among its users, this killer messaging app has become a favourite among the BlackBerry faithful. BBM 6 does everything older versions could, sending and receiving text and pictures to other BlackBerry users. Also, BBM is now integrated into some BlackBerry apps, allowing you to chat on BBM from within certain apps or share your location and recommend apps.
Focus on Apps
BlackBerry App World hasn’t been as prolific as Apple’s App Store or the Android Marketplace, but Research in Motion still wants its users to know that the BlackBerry OS is no slouch when it comes to running modern apps. For BlackBerry 7, the BlackBerry News app has been updated to import Google Reader subscriptions and tweaked for performance enhancements. BlackBerry Traffic works with BlackBerry Maps to check your route before you start driving, and gives you an estimated time of arrival at your destination. Third-party apps being featured by RIM include Amazon MP3, Facebook, Slacker radio, and Foursquare.
The Wikitude World Browser app offers augmented reality on other smartphone platforms based on Wikipedia and Qype content. Users can view their surroundings through their smartphone camera, and see information overlaid on top of it. BlackBerry 7 will feature this capability integrated into some of its apps, for example with BBM 6 users will be able to see if their contacts are nearby, but obstructed from view by a building. Information layers in the app also include YouTube videos, restaurant listings, and public transit stops.
What’s next? QNX
Research In Motion is set to launch an underwhelming range of QNX-based phones next year, according to a BGR report, that will be as good as dead on arrival. The first QNX-based RIM phone is codenamed the BlackBerry Colt, according to BGR, whose sources are mostly spot-on, but sometimes way off. The phone is expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2012, and besides being hobbled with a single-core CPU, it will launch without supporting BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server. This means that in order to use Exchange e-mail on the device, Microsoft’s ActiveSync will need to be used.
(Photo courtesy of BGR, text from PCWorld.com)