Blackberry 9800 Preview: Specs and Input Review

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Introduction to the BlackBerry 9800

The BlackBerry 9800 is the next highly-anticipated device from RIM. The device looks to incorporate many of the good elements from previous BlackBerry devices, with plenty of new features to enhance the BlackBerry experience. While the mobile carrier for the 9800 is known, the release date is still up in the air.

Carrier and Technology

BlackBerry-9800-ATT

The BlackBerry 9800, rumored to now be called the BlackBerry Torch, will be available through AT&T at launch. Additional carriers may offer the phone either later in the year or early next year, but at this point, any additional carrier information is simply rumor.

The BlackBerry 9800 will have support for WCDMA bands 1, 2, 5 and 6, so this will be a world phone as the device can work on CDMA networks in Japan and most of Europe.

Physical Specs

The BlackBerry 9800 will measure 113 by 59 mm, that’s 4.4 by 2.3 inches, and will be available in black upon release. The battery will last for up to 260 hours in standby and will offer between two and three hours of talk time. The HVGA touch screen display covers almost the entire front of the phone and has 360 x 480 pixels using 65K colors. RIM added a 5 megapixel camera to go along with the large display.

The 9800 has 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage on board. It also has a microSD slot that can offer another 16 GB of storage through a memory card. The phone can utilize an 802.11n Wi-Fi connection, for those times that you don’t want to rely on the 3G network for data applications.

Inputs

BlackBerry-9800-keyboard

The BlackBerry 9800 will have a virtual QWERTY keyboard that works in both landscape and portrait mode. The keyboard can be dismissed with a downward swipe. The phone can also slide up to reveal a physical QWERTY keyboard. When you slide the phone up, the virtual keypad quickly and smoothly hides itself.

The touch screen is capacitive and, while this is not specifically a sign that RIM has abandoned it, this screen does not use SurePress technology. Pinch-zooming is available in both the browser and the image gallery. Like almost all new BlackBerrys, the device has a touchpad instead of the old problematic trackball.

Operating System

One of the most exciting aspects of the 9800 is the new and improved BlackBerry operating system, OS 6.0. The operating system will offer a customizable homepage. The homepage icons are connected to a tab that you can drag up, and then flick left and right to access additional application pages. The operating system also offers modal menus, meaning that if you press and hold in a field, like an email, a menu pops up with common menu options.

The BlackBerry 9800 uses kinetic scrolling, where the list continues to scroll a little after you stop moving your finger, throughout the device. This gives the device a smoother and more enjoyable feel that earlier BlackBerry touch screens, when scrolling through lists.

OS 6.0 also offers a universal search feature. You type what you are searching into the text box, and the operating system will give you a list of programs, both internal like help files and external like YouTube, where your search query found matches.

Browser

BlackBerry-9800-tabsbrowse

When RIM acquired Torch Mobile in 2009, it was assumed that eventually a BlackBerry device would use a browser based on WebKit, and the 9800 is that device. The browser loads quickly and you can scroll through pages easily. It can also handle complicated web coding like AJAX and HTML5. The browser also has a button on the top that lets you easily open and move to additional tabs in the browser.

Multimedia

BlackBerry-9800-Media

The BlackBerry 9800 has an integrated YouTube application to make searching for, finding and playing videos a hassle-free process. The device also has an update media player, available on all BlackBerry OS 6.0 devices, with a simplified interface that closely resembles Apple’s Cover Flow.

The new photos application also resembles the iPhone’s, with tiled thumbnails appearing on the screen with almost no borders. You can search through the thumbnails by flicking up and down and the device responds well, not taking a long time to load. If you tap a photo it will slide into the frame, and you can tap it again to make it full screen. Pinch to zoom is working in the photos application.

Release Date for the Blackberry 9800

RIM recently announced that the BlackBerry 9800, also now officially called the BlackBerry Torch, will be released through AT&T on August 12, 2010. The device will be available for $199 if you sign a two-year contract. It was not announced if the phone will be available for purchase without a contract, and what the price would be.

You can visit RIM’s 9800 page here.

All images are reposted from Intomobile. See here for more information.