That’s just what RIM has done this week with the introduction of three phones — the BlackBerry Bold 9930, Torch 9850 and Torch 9810. RIM has also knocked its operating system version up to No. 7 and says the new software will perform far better than previous iterations, thanks to something it calls “Liquid Graphics.”
If those models are giving you flashbacks, don’t be surprised. All three are refreshes of familiar BlackBerry phones, and at least one is nearly a shot-for-shot remake. The Bold 9930 looks almost identical to the original BlackBerry Bold released in 2008, though this version is thinner, more solidly built and touts a touch screen in addition to the optical trackpad RIM has been including on new devices. The Torch 9810 is little more than the original Torch wrapped in a gaudy silver casing — the phone’s screen slides up to reveal a keyboard beneath. And the all-touch-screen Torch 9850 is essentially the latest in the company’s keyboard-less Storm line of phones.
The Torch models aren’t especially exciting, but if you’re a fan of the classic BlackBerry design, you’ll fall in love with the Bold 9930. It’s what the brand is supposed to represent: tough, clean devices that feel great in your hands, are easy to type on and look like they’re all business.
The hardware keyboards on the Bold 9930 and Torch 9810 are terrific, though I preferred the Bold’s variation, which is wider and has more give on the keys. The Torch 9850 uses an on-screen, virtual keyboard for typing, but the software’s text-correction and text-prediction logic lags far behind that of Android or Apple’s iOS.
Inside, the three smartphones share the same central processor (a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon model running at 1.2GHz), 8 gigabytes of storage (expandable up to 40GB using a microSD card), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G radios. At the time of this writing, the Torch 9810 is available on AT&T’s 3G HSDPA network, while the Torch 9850 is being sold for Sprint. The Bold 9930 is available on Verizon’s 3G, CDMA network. It also sports world phone capability, meaning you can take the device overseas and still get service.
All the phones have a 5-megapixel camera with a flash, though the Bold 9930’s lens doesn’t offer auto-focus, meaning that capturing close subjects or photos with detail is nearly impossible. The Torches fare a bit better thanks to their continuous auto-focus, but all three devices are capable of taking good-quality photos. RIM promises “zero shutter lag” when snapping away, and it’s true that you can quickly grab images without waiting for the phone to play catch-up.