RIM unveils touch-screen BlackBerry Torch

Research In Motion has unveiled a new touch-screen device with a slide-out keyboard called the BlackBerry Torch.

Research In Motion unveiled a new touch-screen device with a slide-out keyboard, called the BlackBerry Torch, at a news event on Tuesday.

The phone will use a new operating system from Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM called BlackBerry 6, which has a redesigned web browser that features tabbed browsing for access to multiple web pages at the same time. The Torch will also have the pinch-to-zoom feature made popular on Apple's rival iPhone.

The slide-out keyboard, for typing, will complement a virtual keyboard on the 3.2-inch touch screen.

Details of the device were leaked before the news event by RIM's U.S. wireless partner, AT&T, on the company's website. In a press release, RIM said the Torch will be available from the carrier on Aug. 12.

The new operating system will also be available for the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and 9650, as well as the BlackBerry Pearl 3G.

Canada's big three wireless carriers, Bell, Rogers and Telus, all said on Tuesday they would offer the Torch this year.

The Torch is RIM's latest effort to combat momentum being built by its chief rivals in smartphones, Apple and Google. The latter company provides the Android operating system being used by several device manufacturers, including HTC, Motorola and Samsung.

Overall, RIM's market share has been slipping, and its earnings and revenues have recently disappointed analysts. Its share price has slid around 20 per cent since March.

Making matters worse, the United Arab Emirates has threatened to ban the use of the BlackBerry there for emailing, messaging or browsing the web. The ban would take effect Oct. 11, Emirates officials said, unless RIM gives them access to users' encrypted data.

With files from The Canadian Press