Research In Motion's Blackberry 9900 Bold handset

Blackberry announces new handsets � future of Storm in doubt

Blackberry makers, Research In Motion, have today launched five new models in its battle to win back smartphone market share from Apple and Android handset makers.

The launch is the most extensive ever with agreements made to distribute the new handsets with 225 carriers around the world. The new phones will feature RIM's new Blackberry 7 operating system.

In total 3 handsets will be released in each market. A new large Bold 9900 (with the same sized keyboard as the old Bold 9000) also features a touch screen. A new Torch 9800 has been released featuring the familiar touch screen with a slider keyboard.

The company has also announced, for the first time a pure touch screen keyboard without any mechanical feedback – the Blackberry 9850/9860.

Previously the company had criticised the concept of pure touch screen keyboards – suggesting that they were inferior to mechanical keyboards.

Research In Motion’s touch screen Storm family of Blackberrys featured a mechanical underlay with gave the user mechanical confirmation that a key had been depressed.

Vivek Bhardwaj, head of software EMEA said, “We are focused on the Bold and Torch families today, but we have nothing currently to add to the Storm family.”

Bhardwaj confirmed that the Storm 2 is still available for sale but did not confirm whether further development of the brand will continue.

All three phones feature the same chipset which at its heart has a 1.2 Gigaherz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. These devices also feature a separate GPU which Blackberry claim gives the user interface a more 'fluid experience'.

Other performance enhancements include HD video recording, 24 bit graphics and gyroscopic sensors to support augmented reality apps.

Bhardwaj also confirmed that Blackberry 7 operating system will not allow users to use 3G as a wireless hotspot. Currently many Android and Windows handsets allow this functionality.

Rollout of the new handsets will commence in a “few weeks”, he said.

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