RIM Reveals Updated BlackBerry Bold Handsets

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

On the back of an ominous profit warning, RIM has revealed two updated handsets running a new OS

Research in Motion has launched two new Bold smartphones, following the profit warning from the BlackBerry maker last week that triggered a sharp fall in its share price.

The Ontario-based company announced the two new handsets, plus the imminent arrival of an updated mobile operating system, as it seeks to regain ground against the Android and Apple smartphone juggernaut.

The latest additions to its handset portfolio are BlackBerry Bold 9900 and the BlackBerry Bold 9930, (dubbed by some as the BlackBerry Bold Touch) which the company is hailing as its thinnest BlackBerry smartphones yet. The arrival of the new handsets were first revealed in early April when a 48-second video was posted to YouTube by BBLeaks, showing the device in action.

Handset Specifications

The new handsets are said to be just 10.5mm thick, but are still a tad thicker than the Apple iPhone 4 which measures a svelte 9.3mm in thickness.

Looks-wise, the new handsets are pretty much the same as previous models as they feature the company’s traditional QWERTY keyboard. However the new handsets also offer a 2.8-inch, VGA (640×480) capacitive touch screen, as well as a five-megapixel camera with a 720p HD video recording option.

The new handsets also contain a more powerful 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, plus Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for mobile payments. It features 8GB of onboard memory that is expandable to 32GB. Other features include dual band Wi-Fi, GPS, plus a built-in compass (magnetometer). The 9900 model offers quad band GSM and tri-band HSPA+ support, whereas the 9930 offers dual-mode CDMA/EV-DO GSM support.

New OS Version

Both handsets are expected to arrive sometime this summer and will run the latest BlackBerry 7 OS.

This latest OS is expected to be revealed at its annual BlackBerry World trade show in Florida (3 to 5 May), and will provide NFC capabilities (the first for BlackBerry), as well as a faster user interface, improved browsing and support for HTML5, and voice activated universal search.

The Canadian company has also unveiled a video chat application for its recently launched PlayBook tablet, a device that was panned by early reviewers. This was despite it running on the  QNX platform, which RIM hopes will transform its business.

Profit Warning

RIM is currently struggling to hold its own against Android and Apple rival handsets. This lead RIM to slash its quarterly profit outlook last Thursday for its financial period ending 28 May.

It cut its sales and profit forecasts, and it lowered per-share earnings from $1.47 (£0.88) to $1.55 (£0.93), down to $1.30 (£0.78) to $1.37 (£0.82) for the first quarter. It also lowered Q1 guidance below its previously stated $5.2 billion (£3.1bn) to $5.6 billion (£3.3bn) range.

“This shortfall is primarily due to shipment volumes of BlackBerry smart phones that are now expected to be at the lower end of the range of 13.5-14.5 million forecasted in March,” RIM said.

RIM shares fell some 14 percent by early afternoon on Friday, and as of Monday afternoon were trading at $48.27 (£28.94), their lowest level since October.