Too little, too late! Touching up the Blackberry Bold

by Ore Fakorede

With the way that Google’s user-friendly mobile operating system, the Android OS and the highly sophisticated mobile devices on which it runs have taken huge bites out of Research In Motion’s share in the world mobile market, the Blackberry smartphone range has been long overdue for a total reboot. In the third quarter of 2010, RIM, makers of the ubiquitous Blackberry devices attempted to battle Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Windows Mobile 7 with the Blackberry OS 6 and a new flagship phone to show off its new and improved features, the Blackberry Torch.

To RIM’s chagrin, the Blackberry Torch belied the hype as its underwhelming specifications could not match those of its more modern competitors. Seriously lacking in screen real-estate, the Torch sported a low-resolution 3.2-inch TFT display which could not hold a candle to the iPhone’s Retina Display or the WVGA displays of most Android phones. On the inside, things were hardly any better. The 624 MHz processor that kept the Torch’s electronic heart beating was a far cry from the 800 MHz to 1 GHz average that had becoming the minimum requirement for mobile processors. Lacking such essential features as a front-facing camera, hotspot capabilities and on-screen widgets, it was evident that the Torch was a mere rush job which did not deserve the ‘smartphone’ moniker. With damnation to the proverbial wasteland of insignificance looming on the horizon, RIM was forced to hurry back to the drawing board in order to save its deepening blushes. Enter the Blackberry Bold Touch.

Originally codenamed ‘Dakota’, the Bold Touch was first spotted in January 2011 but its official launch was at Monday’s annual Blackberry World conference in Florida. With RIM evidently aiming to please, the device combines the best of both worlds – retaining the distinctive QWERTY keyboard of the Blackberry family and throwing in a 2.8-inch TFT touch screen for good measure. The Bold Touch is built around a single-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor which undoubtedly leaves the poster-child Touch in the dust. Multitasking is sure to be a breeze with a whole 728MB of RAM available for processing activities. Internal memory has also been bumped up to an impressive 8GB (expandable to 40GB with a 32GB microSD card). An above-average, HD-capable 5 MP camera with LED flash upholds the media end of things and the phone carries a near-field communication chip which enables it to be used as a mobile wallet for electronic transactions. These slew of hardware upgrades are functionally bound by the all-new Blackberry OS 7 which, unlike the name suggests, is only a few added features up from OS 6.

The Blackberry Bold Touch heralds a new day in RIM’s history of phone manufacturing, yet, it falls short of the lofty standards that are being set and reset everyday by high-end mobile devices constantly issuing forth from the loins of Asian tech giants Samsung, HTC and LG. Dwarfed by the sheer innovativeness of these companies, RIM can be likened to an old man making a brave but sorely inadequate attempt to appear trendy. While the Bold Touch undoubtedly prides itself on its 1.2 GHz processor, the rest of the world has moved on to the age of dual-core mobile processing as seen in the blindingly-fast LG Optimus 2X and the recently released Samsung Galaxy S II. High-definition recording capability is becoming only the barest minimum as more phones sport 3D cameras, and the strides made in the development of Blackberry OS 7 seem more like baby steps when compared with the drool-worthy user interface of Windows Phone 7, the simplicity of iOS or the ingenuity of Google‘s Android OS. To top it all off, the OS 7 update is incompatible with all existing Blackberry phones. This will not do at all. Once again, RIM brings a knife to a gunfight. Talk about being suicidal. Check out the official press shots of the Blackberry Bold Touch below.

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