BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) is known for a lot of things in the smartphone space: proven mobile security; solid hardware; top-of-the-line wireless antennas; and industry-best battery life, just to name a few.
But one thing RIM is not particularly good at: Keeping its new and upcoming BlackBerry smartphones under wraps until they're officially announced and/or unveiled. That's unfortunate for RIM, but great for CrackBerry addicts anxiously awaiting news on the next must-have BlackBerry handheld.
Here are the most recently leaked details, technical specifications, images and video on three cool new BlackBerry smartphones, all of which are expected to be released at some point in 2011: the "Torch2" 9810; "Storm3/Touch" 9860; and the "Bold Touch" 99xx.
(Note: The majority of information on these as-of-yet unannounced BlackBerry devices presumably comes directly from RIM, and should therefore be accurate. However, nothing about these smartphones is official at this point, and changes to device names, tech specs, etc., could be made before any are released. RIM is expected to officially announce at least one of these new handhelds in May at its BlackBerry World conference.)
BlackBerry "Torch2" 9810
The BlackBerry Torch 9800 was RIM's first BlackBerry handheld with both a touch-screen and full-QWERTY "physical" keyboard, and on the outside, its successor, currently being called the "BlackBerry Torch2 9810," looks very similar, except for a slight change in exterior color from shiny chrome and black to chrome and matte silver. (Read my full review of the original Torch, to see what worked for the 9800 -- and what didn't.)
The real differences between the Torch and Torch2, codename "BlackBerry Jennings," are under the hood. Specifically, the Torch2 will run RIM's next major BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 6.1. (Read more details about BlackBerry 6.1.) It will reportedly pack a much more powerful processor than the 9800's 624MHz chip; the 9810 should employ a 1.2GHz processor, likely a Qualcomm Snapdragon, which would give this new Torch much more processing power.
The Torch2 should also feature 768MB of RAM, compared to the 9800's 512MB, and double the original Torch's built-in storage with 8GB -- both devices also support microSD cards up to 32GB. The 640x480 (VGA) display on the Torch 2 is a higher resolution than the Torch 9800's 360x480 (half VGA) screen. In addition, the Torch2 will pack an accelerometer, magnetometer and proximity sensor.
Both Torches should use the same roughly-1300 mAh "F-S1" power pack, so Torch2 battery life should be similar or better than 9800 battery life. And the Torch2 9810 should also support Near Field Communications (NFC) for mobile payments and more.
Check out more BlackBerry Torch 2 9810 technical specifications.
BlackBerry "Storm 3/Touch" 9860/9850
The BlackBerry "Touch 9860," codenamed "Monza" and thought to be a successor to RIM's BlackBerry Storm2 95xx device, has been unofficially dubbed the "Storm 3." This device is perhaps the sleekest, best-looking handheld of the three highlighted in this post. It looks a bit like the Storm2, but thinner and more "modern-looking," and will have a trackpad for improved navigation.
Like the Torch2 9810, the BlackBerry Touch 9860 smartphone will run RIM's BlackBerry 6.1 mobile OS, with support for NFC. And it is expected to pack a powerful 1.2GHz processor, 768MB of RAM, but unlike the new Torch, the Touch 9860 has less on-board storage -- just 4GB -- and a higher resolution display at 800x480 (WVGA). The Touch 9860 should also have the largest display of any BlackBerry at 3.7 inches, measured diagonally.
The Touch 9860 also employs a brand new, 1230 mAh "BlackBerry J-M1" battery.
And RIM should release a CDMA version of the Touch 98xx, which will likely be called the Touch 9850 -- codenamed "Monaco."
BlackBerry "Bold Touch" 9900/9930
The BlackBerry Bold Touch 99xx, a successor to RIM's popular original Bold smartphone, the BlackBerry 9000, is the handheld many BlackBerry aficionados have been dreaming about for years -- myself included.
The Bold Touch 99xx looks very much like its BlackBerry-9000-counterpart, but with sleeker styling, a thinner profile and a touch screen -- hence the "Bold Touch" name. The best thing, however, about the original BlackBerry Bold is still intact: The large, full-QWERTY BlackBerry keyboard, which many smartphone and gadget geeks consider to be the most functional keyboard to ever grace a handheld device.
The Bold Touch is expected to come in two "flavors:" the GSM/UMTS variant, the Bold Touch 9900, codenamed "Dakota;" and the CDMA version, the Bold Touch 9930, codenamed "Montana." Both devices should sport 640x480 (VGA) displays and pack 1.2GHz processors.
Like the other handhelds featured in this post, both versions should run RIM's BlackBerry 6.1 OS, with support for NFC, magnetometer, proximity sensor and more. The Bold Touch will also offer 3G mobile hotspot functionality to allow multiple Wi-Fi equipped devices to connect to the Web using the Bold's cellular connection. And the Bold Touch is expected to pack a 1230 mAh battery.
Just to recap, no official release dates have been announced for any of the BlackBerry smartphones mentioned in this post, but you can expect to hear more about at least one of them at BlackBerry World in May.