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BlackBerry World reveals new devices, apps

RIM starts off the week with a bang with two new BlackBerry handsets and a slew of new applications and enterprise solutions.

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
3 min read

BlackBerry World is officially in full swing over in Orlando, Fla., as RIM let loose a plethora of announcements of new phones and apps.

The biggest news comes in the form of two Bold handsets and the new OS 7 operating system. RIM announced the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and the Bold 9930, which look practically identical to the existing Bold handsets, except that the displays are now touch screens. They are also much thinner and sleeker. The Bold 9900 is headed for T-Mobile as the carrier's first-ever 4G-capable BlackBerry; the 9930 is a global dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone that will likely head for Verizon Wireless.

Both phones will ship with BlackBerry OS 7, which promises augmented reality applications via a built-in magnetometer and faster performance thanks to a 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor. The browser also promises to be speedier, with a just-in-time JavaScript compiler and HTML5 video support. NFC (near field communications) technology is another feature, designed for mobile payments. Voice search and 720p HD video recording are also welcome additions.

RIM announces BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 today with the brand new OS 7.
RIM announces BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 today with the brand-new OS 7. RIM

I'm certain that BlackBerry fans will covet and look forward to these phones. After all, the Bold is by far one of the more popular BlackBerry handsets, with its well-designed keyboard and svelte design. RIM even boasts that the new Bolds are the thinnest and most powerful BlackBerry smartphones yet. As far as BlackBerrys go, we think these two Bolds are perhaps the most advanced handsets in RIM's portfolio.

However, those who are looking for something new and different from RIM might be disappointed. The new Bolds, as we said, have almost the same design as before. OS 7 also is not dramatically different from OS 6, and it's certainly not based on the QNX platform made popular by the PlayBook. I also have some doubts on whether a touch screen works well on a 2.8-inch display, but we'll have to wait to get our hands on it to be sure.

Though understandable, it is also disappointing that OS 7 will not be available on older BlackBerrys because of hardware limitations. I think that there needs to be a bigger evolutionary OS leap before BlackBerry owners are willing to give up their existing phones for a device that requires a two-year contract.

RIM is certainly trying to make the case for its phones. Along with the two Bolds, it also introduced BlackBerry Mobile System 5, which will combine the desk phone and smartphone into a unified communication system, and BlackBerry Balance technology, that hopes to make the BlackBerry more compelling for both business and personal use without compromising security and privacy.

It's clear that RIM still wants to retain its corporate appeal. It even announced a multiplatform BlackBerry Enterprise Solution that promises to incorporate secure device management for Android and iOS phones in addition to BlackBerry smartphones, so it seems RIM is hedging its bets by making its software workable on competitor devices.

RIM also didn't forget the PlayBook with a new video chat application and a dedicated Facebook app that makes use of the 7-inch display.

We're happy to see RIM make these announcements, and yet we were hoping for something more. How about you, readers? Will you be getting one of these new Bolds? What do you think of the RIM announcements so far? Let us know in the comments.