Security around the impending BlackBerry 9000 launch details in recent months has been about as tight as a rapper's trousers but now it's officially here I can't say we're disappointed.
Formerly dubbed the 'Bold' (yes, like the washing powder) it actually has few surprises following leak , after leak, after leak , after leak but what's most impressive is the Bold has delivered on all these and more besides...
Probably the biggie of the bunch is this is RIM's first HSDPA enabled handset and it comes with WiFi and GPS backing it up. A 480 x 320 pixel display is also the densest in the company's history while it features a style makeover and heavily redesigned software interface courtesy of BlackBerry OS v4.6. The 624MHz CPU at the heart of the Bold is also the fastest RIM has employed to date.
A full page rendering web browser is in there too and for multimedia fans it has a 3.5mm headphone jack, will play all the usual audio and video codecs while the new 'BlackBerry Media Sync' will sync with iTunes for non-DRM infected files. Call life is good as well at up to five hours talk time and up to 13 hours on standby (no doubt with WiFi, Bluetooth et al turned off). At 114 x 66 x 13mm and 133g, the Bold is also no more bulky than an iPhone.
So any negatives? Well there's no touchscreen tech in there and the 2MP camera is kinda weedy in this day and age. Furthermore the 1GB of internal memory isn't overly generous in these days of 4GB and 8GB handsets, though it can be bolstered by the ubiquitous microSD slot.
Interestingly, RIM has only described the BlackBerry Bold as being "available this summer" which seems rather vague for such a major release. It is indeed running scared of the 3G iPhone? If so there's no need to be...
In a related news RIM has also announced the 'BlackBerry Partners Fund' in conjunction RBC and Thomson. $150m has been invested towards development of applications and services on the BlackBerry OS platform. Apple announced a similar 'iFund' of $100m provided by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers when it unveiled its SDK in March.
On top of this a new partnership with Microsoft will see tighter integration of Windows Live Services (including MSN and Hotmail) on all BlackBerry smartphones. BlackBerry owners lowering themselves to use Hotmail, whoever heard of such a thing? ;)