Research in Motion has thrown its BlackBerry hat into the iPhone ring with BlackBerry Bold, the latest version of the company’s line of sleek, multimedia savvy smartphones.

According to a RIM press release, the new unit is “crafted from premium materials inside and out, that radiate elegance with a dramatic presence.” Yeah, whatever. What you’ll want to know is this: The Bold supports Mbit-speed networking with tri-band HSDPA (the first BlackBerry to do this), and also has integrated GPS and WiFi capabilities.

Obviously taking aim at Apple’s iPhone, the Bold’s “lustrous black exterior, satin chrome finish and stylish leather-like backplate” add to a “stunning display [and] sophisticated user interface.” RIM clearly had its thesaurus out for this press release, positioning the BlackBerry Bold as a “symbol of accomplishment and aspiration.” I guess RIM expects some heavy breathing to go with this unit.

Getting back to the hardware, the new phone is built around a 624 MHz mobile processor with 1GB memory, 128MB Flash and a microSD/SDHD memory card slot (which currently supports as much as 8GB, but is expected to go to 16GB soon). Its half-VGA display delivers 480x320 pixels, a built-in 2-megapixel camera includes a flash and 5x digital zoom. Also packed into the phone is Bluetooth 2.0, USB 2.0, two speakers with speakerphone, quad-band EDGE, a QWERTY keyboard and dedicated send, end and mute buttons.

In a deal with Microsoft, also announced today, BlackBerry 7000, 8000 and 9000 (aka the BlackBerry Bold) will be able to receive messages from Microsoft’s Live Hotmail and Live Messenger servers. The BlackBerry Bold is scheduled for general availability this summer.

About the Author

I am Technical Editor of the [url=]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=][/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

Between '06 and '09 I was editor of [URL=]ST&P[/URL], a software testing trade magazine. I also wrote a software [URL=]Test & QA [/URL]newsletter, and was chairman of the [url=]Software Test & Performance conference[/url].

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