On Tuesday in New York City, Research in Motion officially launched its new smartphone hardware, the BlackBerry Torch 9800, along with the  BlackBerry 6 software platform.

The new BlackBerry OS has been widely anticipated as the North American smartphone leader tries to catch up with the innovations that Apple and Google have brought to the smartphone market in the past three years.

The BlackBerry 6 software looks and feels a lot more like iPhone and Android, but the first BlackBerry 6 device, the BlackBerry Torch 9800, features a slide-down version of the traditional BlackBerry keyboard. Below are more details on the new device and the OS upgrade.

BlackBerry Torch

AT&T CEO opened the event in New York by saying, “Today AT&T and RIM are introducing the best BlackBerry ever.”

RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis described the Torch as “Fresh and exciting, and also familiar.”

Here are the official specs of the Torch:

  • Carrier: AT&T
  • Launch date: August 12, 2010
  • Price: $199
  • BlackBerry 6 operating system
  • Hardware qwerty keyboard (slide-down)
  • 3.2 inch 480 x 360 screen
  • 512 MB SDRAM
  • 4 GB eMMC + 4 GB media card (expandable to 32 GB)
  • 5 MP camera, autofocus, flash, video recording
  • 1300 mAh battery
  • Weight: 161g
  • Dimensions: 111(h) x 62(w) x 14.6(d) mm

BlackBerry 6

Lazaridis said, “BlackBerry users will find BlackBerry 6 fresh but familiar. We spent a lot of time on the details.”

Here’s what’s included in the new BlackBerry operating system:

  • Full multitouch interface
  • Faster Webkit browser
  • Universal inbox, including Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Messenger
  • Redesigned home screen
  • Universal search
  • Context-sensitive menus
  • Social tools
  • Content sync over Wi-Fi
  • Homescreen notification previews
  • Will run older (pre-6) BlackBerry apps
  • BlackBerry Bold (9650 and 9700) and Pearl 3G will be upgradeable to BlackBerry 6