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RIM announces five new BlackBerry smartphones

Canadian mobile maker and smartphone pioneer Research in Motion has announced plans to launch five new BlackBerry handsets, the biggest launch in the company's history.

Still reeling from the apparent failure of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet device - which tried to take on the mighty iPad but soon retreated bloodied and bruised - RIM has answered criticisms that its roster of smartphones was dragging behind the rest of the herd with an unprecedented outpouring of new hardware.

RIM will roll out two new Bold and three new Torch models powered by the BlackBerry 7 operating system starting later this month, although the company failed to give more precise timings.

The two new Bold models, numbered 9900 an 9930, are RIM's thinnest smartphones ever at 10.5mm despite coming with a large keyboard and touch-screen display. The only apparent difference between the 9900 and the 9930 is the presence of CDMA or GSM radios for the USA and its battling Verizon and AT&T networks.

Click the pics for a giant version

The new Bolds are the first BlackBerry handsets to come with Near Field Communications (NFC) which allows users to make small payments without a debit card and marketing companies to annoy the bejaysus out of you every time you go anywhere near a suitably-equipped electronic billboard. Bold owners will be familiar with the styling, while Apple might have a thing or two to say about the brushed aluminium frame which is just a little reminiscent of another popular fruit-themed smartphone we could mention.

The phones come with 8GB of on-board memory, expandable up to 40GB using MicroSD cards, a single five megapixel snapper with flash and image stabilisation capable of capturing 720p HD video, and built in GPS.

The battery promises around six hours of talk time, 50 hours of audio playback and more than seven hours of video.

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 builds on the design of the 9800 with its sliding keyboard and 3.2-inch touch display. Internal specs are pretty much identical to the 9900.

The Torch 9850 and 9860 models go for an iPhone-aping all touch format with a 3.7-inch display, the biggest ever on a BlackBerry, and are optimised for web browsing, video and photo viewing according to RIM.

Once again the specs are in line with the above, but for some reason the total storage with optional MicroSD card tops out at 36GB. Despite the power hungry display, RIM reckons the 98 series Torch models will still manage 'up to' 6.6 hours of HD video playback.

All of the above run the new BlackBerry 7 OS on 1.2GHz processors, feature HD video recording and 24-bit graphics.

RIM says the shiny new OS comes with a 'best in industry' WebKit-based browser which is 40 per cent faster than the previous generation and has HTML5 integration built in.

They also have dedicated Liquid Graphics processors for faster, smoother visuals.

Each phone comes pre-loaded with a bunch of phone, messaging and social media apps as well as a full version of Documents to Go and the ability to back up data to RIM's own cloud storage service.

While a launch of this magnitude is certainly good news for those BlackBerry fans who have been waiting for new hardware, it remains to be seen whether the new line-up can reverse the company's miserable performance of late.

Let us know what you thinq in the comments below.