On Deck: RIM's BlackBerry 9800 Torch

RIM's BlackBerry 6 slider phone named Torch, hopes to win a place among Apple iPhones and Google Androids.
Publish date:

Updated since Monday with new info on BlackBerry features.



) --Not a moment too soon,

Research In Motion


is set to unveil the BlackBerry 9800 phone dubbed Torch, and its new BlackBerry 6 operating system.

RIM and


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have scheduled a press conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Manhattan to introduce the new device --


will be there, live-blogging all the action.

New features are expected to include touchscreen and trackpad control using finger gestures like flicking and pinching to scroll and zoom, a unified desktop and Web search, BlackBerry maps and a barcode scanner, according to

presentation materials

obtained by BGR.

The touchscreen slider phone -- originally known by its code name Talladega -- is RIM's most important development since


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iPhone arrived three years ago and radically remade the smartphone category.

Preview: BlackBerry 6 home screen

The unveiling of the new phone and BlackBerry 6 software likely means the phone will be available in the coming weeks. One analyst says RIM has completed the "gold" version of software and now awaits final approval from AT&T. At best, this process could be done and the phones could be in stores as early as the end of August, says the analyst.

Here is a

sneak peak video of BlackBerry 6

software in action.

Barring any major hitch, the summer arrival of the BlackBerry slider would be a welcome surprise to RIM investors. With Apple and


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Android phones taking prominence among consumers, RIM has struggled to keep up with outdated phones and woefully lagging software. RIM shares have slid 26% over the past year on concerns it was going the route of


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-- The BlackBerry 6 software promises to bring multitouch finger control, more applications, built-in social networking features and an improved Web browser. In other words, this BlackBerry will have some of the cool features that iPhones and Androids already have.


-- People who have handled the BlackBerry slider say it is thin; roughly the same thickness as the BlackBerry Bold 9700. If true, that would make it just over a half-inch thick. The touchscreen apparently slides up like the Palm Pre to reveal a physical keyboard that looks very similar to the BlackBerry Bold.

RIM has whiffed a couple times

in building an effective touchscreen phone. The Storm and Storm 2 never managed to compare favorably to the iPhone or Android phones.

But RIM still has a stronghold in the business user market. If BlackBerry 6 can finally crack the touchscreen code, the 9800 and its keyboard may turn out to be a crowd pleaser. The important question is whether the 9800 is good enough to crash the two-player smartphone market and win the interest of people who are focused on either the iPhone or the Android.

Meanwhile, RIM

shares were under new pressure

Monday as UAE officials threaten to ban BlackBerry data services in Dubai starting in October over national security concerns. RIM's stock was slipping more than 2%, or $1.29, to $56.24 in late morning trading.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.