RIM announced what it described as its “largest global launch ever,” with five new handsets set to be released based on BlackBerry 7 OS from later this month. The company said that “more than 225 carriers and distribution partners” have either started or completed certification tests for the range, indicating it is expecting a broad early availability of the new handsets. RIM’s BlackBerry sales numbers have recently failed to impress, with the company missing its own guidance for the quarter to 28 May 2011, as it failed to capitalise on growth in the smartphone sector as a whole. It noted at this time that “accelerating new product introductions” was one of its strategic focus areas, in order to reinvigorate its product sales. Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of the company, has already warned that delays pushing the availability of the new devices “into the very late part of August” will impact its current quarter.
Two of the devices in the portfolio, Bold 9900 and Bold 9930, have already been announced by the company. They are described as the thinnest BlackBerry smartphones to date, feature touchscreens and QWERTY keypads, and also include integrated NFC support. The Torch 9810 is an update to the current Torch 9800, and maintains the slider design. New additions are the BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860 (pictured), which are touchscreen-only devices with 3.7” displays – the former is a dual mode CDMA EV-DO/WCDMA device, while the latter supports HSPA. In addition to running the next generation BlackBerry platform, the devices also feature “a range of powerful hardware enhancements including a 1.2 GHz processor, HD video recording, 24-bit high resolution graphics, and advanced sensors enabling new augmented reality applications.” AT&T was the first off the blocks to state support for the new line, with the intention to launch three of the devices – one Bold variant, the slider Torch, and one of the touch-only Torch smartphones.