Expansys is offering the long-awaited smart phone SIM-free for £570. It replaces the BlackBerry Bold as RIM's flagship consumer phone.
The first BlackBerry to offer a capacitive touchscreen -- after the clickable screen of the Storm didn't catch on -- it also has a Qwerty keyboard to satisfy its email and messaging-addicted fans.
It will carry a new OS in BlackBerry 6, which among other things carries a WebKit-powered browser, multi-touch, more social media options, and a Cover Flow-style interface for music.
RIM has high hopes for the phone to compete with the latest touchscreen devices, such as the iPhone 4 and HTC Desire, but it hasn't made the best of starts in the US, where its early sales were described as 'underwhelming'.
If Expansys doesn't change its mind and continues to offer it at that price, £570 does seem rather ambitious, especially when you consider the current Android darling in the HTC Desire can be bought for a fair deal cheaper -- less than £350 if you shop around. It's a little less than the £600 price of a 32GB iPhone 4, but a fair wedge more than the £500 16GB version.
At least you'll have some cheaper apps to play with. RIM recently announced the launch of BlackBerry App World 2.0, which lets developers price their apps at $0.99, cheaper than previously.
There's also an upgrade to the app-buying experience, with a 'top 25' section for themes and apps, Android-style barcode scanning using your camera, and new billing options in addition to PayPal.
If (like bazillions of people) you're perfectly happy with the existing BlackBerry experience and don't want to get all touchy-screeny, it looks like a new version of the BlackBerry Bold is also expected for October. Apart from a better camera and more memory, it looks much the same as the old Bold.
Looking forward to the BlackBerry Torch? Think it can compete with the new touchscreen devices that will come out before Christmas? Let us know.