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RIM Gets 'Bold' With 3G BlackBerry 9000

The latest handset features Wi-Fi, QWERTY keyboard, Intel XScale 624 MHz processor, microSD external card slots, and can sync with Apple's iTunes.

RIM's latest handset features Wi-Fi, QWERTY keyboard, Intel XScale 624 MHz processor, microSD external card slots, and can sync with Apple's iTunes.
(click image for larger view)

RIM Blackberry 9000
RIM's latest handset features Wi-Fi, QWERTY keyboard, Intel XScale 624 MHz processor, microSD external card slots, and can sync with Apple's iTunes.

Research In Motion unveiled its latest entry in the smart phone sweepstakes Monday and the familiar business-oriented BlackBerry design is crammed with improved features and includes new consumer elements that will place it in competition with Apple's iPhone.

RIM is calling the device the BlackBerry Bold, although a few users already know it as the BlackBerry 9000.

The unveiling is even more interesting because AT&T will have the exclusive rights to market the RIM handset when it is available in the U.S. later this year. AT&T already has exclusive U.S. rights to Apple's iPhone and a new high-speed version of the Apple handset is expected to be unveiled next month. Both devices are slated to operate on 3G high-speed UMTS/HSDPA networks.

RIM trumpeted the consumer features of the Bold, noting its 2 megapixel camera and video recording capability.

"While it is designed to meet the extensive requirements of the business professional during the day, the BlackBerry Bold smartphone also caters to the business person's consumer side," RIM's announcement stated. In a nod to Apple, RIM observed that BlackBerry Bold Media Sync users can sync with Apple's iTunes. The RIM handset also features several multimedia elements. The handset has dual stereo speakers and includes Roxio Media Manager and Roxio PhotoSuite 9 LE.

Jumping the gun on the official Bold announcement was a review from BlackBerry aficionado site Crackberry.com. Apparently there were a few Bold evaluation models that became available on eBay and one of them was reviewed by the fan site that follows and evaluates RIM products.

While the evaluator praised a range of improvements across-the-board, the reviewer was favorably impressed with the half-VGA(480x320 resolution) display. "The display is awesome," the reviewer said. "I knew it would be an improved display, but I wasn't expecting it to be as bright and crisp as it is."

The Bold has the usual suspected features: Wi-Fi, qwerty keyboard, Intel XScale 624 MHz processor, and microSD external card slots.

Users should be able to slip their existing SIM cards into the Bold, which will operate on GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA network infrastructures where they are available.

Right now, the Bold has a huge advantage over the iPhone in the U.S., because the Apple handset only operates on Wi-Fi and the slow EDGE network. However, the new version of the iPhone, expected early next month at an Apple developers meeting, is expected to operate with high-speed UMTS/HSDPA networks.

Thus, the expected headline battle of the smartphones could be played out this fall over AT&T's network.

The Bold is expected to be available in Europe this summer.

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