BlackBerry Torch 9800 Available in South Africa
The much hyped new Blackberry smartphone – the BlackBerry Torch 9800 – will be available in South Africa from today (06 October 2010). Although indications are that the first ever slider-type BlackBerry device will initially only be available from Vodacoms’ Vodaworld outlet, it is expected that stock will filter to the rest of their stores fairly quickly. No official indication as yet on release dates from MTN, but they are sure to follow suite very soon.
The device features a slider design, touch screen, full QWERTY keyboard, and 5 Megapixel camera. It’s also the first BB to ship pre-installed with the new BlackBerry 6 mobile operating system (OS6).
Some of the phones’ core functionality mentioned includes a WebKit browser with a feature that’s being called Auto Wrap Text Zoom as well as Universal Search. Auto Wrap Text Zoom will allow you to zoom into the text on a webpage and have it automatically wrap so that it can be read in the same way as an email. Universal Search allows you to search the whole device for anything be it a setting, contact, or an email.
The key specifications of the device are:
- Full-QWERTY keyboard and large touch screen display
- 3.2” capacitive touch screen with 480 x 360 pixels resolution
- HSDPA support (3.6 Mbps)
- Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
- 5 MP camera with flash, autofocus, digital zoom, face recognition
- 512 MB Flash, 4 GB onboard memory, microSDHC memory card slot (up to 32 GB)
- 624 MHz processor
The BlackBerry 6 OS is set to include the following:
- New icons, graphics and animations
- New WebKit-based browser with tabbed browsing
- Multi-touch support (e.g. pinch to zoom) while browsing, viewing photos, etc.
- Graphical, context-sensitive pop-up menus
- Redesigned core apps, plus a new multimedia UI and new apps for downloading podcasts, watching YouTube videos, and integrating RSS and social networking feeds
- (RIM recently confirmed that the Pearl 3G 9105, Curve 3G 9300 and Bold 9700 handset would also be able to upgrade to the new OS early in 2011)
Vodacom will offer the 9800 “free of charge” on a BlackBerry Talk 100 package priced at R349 per month, offering subscribers 100 anytime minutes and unlimited on-device surfing, email and other data usage. No outright purchase pricing was available at time of writing.
However, to give you some indication of where pricing for the device could be headed: I see that Have2Have have been listing a ‘sourced in Hong Kong’ handset at almost R7,500. By contrast, AT&T in the States are selling it at $499 (around R3,500) whilst Amazon.com are presently offering it at just $99 (under R700 cheap!) on a special.
Reviews of the device have been mixed to say the least. It really does depend on where you look for information. One source of review information, CNet, gives it a solid 4-star “Excellent” rating, whilst the reviewers at Gizmodo, in the introduction to their extremely thorough and balanced review suggest that “… if you don’t already own a BlackBerry, you will not want this phone. And if you do, you still might not want it, even if it may very well be the “best BlackBerry ever.””
Like most things gadget and mobile these days, I’d suggest that you check out the pros and cons for yourself before splashing out the 1,000s or tying yourself into another 24 month contract.