RIM introduced the Blackberry Torch 9800, its latest smartphone and its first with a combined touchscreen and QWERTY slide out keyboard yesterday, teaming up with AT&T to do so. AT&T, of course, also happens to be the exclusive US carrier for RIM arch rival Apple’s iPhone. The launch comes on the heels of the UAE and Saudi Arabia announcing that they would block Blackberry’s proprietary messaging service.

Retailing for AT&T customers only at AT&T retail outlets for $199.99 beginning August 12, buyers will need to sign up for a two-year service agreement on a qualifying rate plan and smartphone data plan. Two AT&T data plans will be offered: $15/mo. for 200 MB of wireless data and $25/mo. for 2 GB. The Torch will also be available online at AT&T, as well as at Best Buy, Wal-Mart and RadioShack stores.

Continuing to focus on and enhance its core strength in messaging capabilities, RIM and AT&T are also touting the Torch 9800’s new Web navigation, search, social networking and geo-location features. Here’s the full list of features:

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  • Measures approx. 4.4″ (5.8″ open) x 2.4″ x .57″ and weighs 5.68 ounces;
  • 3.2″ 360×480 capacitive touch screen display;
  • 35 key full QWERTY backlit slide-out keyboard, designed to feel optimally balanced when opened for typing;
  • Optical trackpad that makes navigation fast and smooth;
  • Powerful 624 Mhz processor with 512 MB Flash memory;
  • 4 GB built-in memory storage plus a microSD/SDHD memory card slot that supports up to 32 GB cards; a 4 GB card is included giving users 8 GB of storage out-of-the-box;
  • 5 MP camera with flash, continuous auto focus, image stabilization, scene modes, geo-tagging and zoom, as well as video recording at up to 640×480 resolution;
  • Built-in GPS for location-based applications and geo-tagging;
  • Wi-Fi® (802.11 b/g/n); qualifying smartphone customers can enjoy seamless connectivity to over 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots at no additional cost;
  • 3.5mm stereo headset jack;
  • Premium phone features, including voice activated dialing, speakerphone and Bluetooth® (2.1) with support for hands-free headsets, stereo headsets, car kits (including systems that support the Bluetooth Message Access Profile standard) and other Bluetooth accessories;
  • New BlackBerry® Desktop Software 6 with integrated media sync for easily syncing music, photos and videos. It also includes Wi-Fi Music Sync, a unique feature that allows users to view their entire iTunes® or Windows Media® Player music libraries from their BlackBerry smartphone, create and edit playlists as well as select music for download. When in range of their home Wi-Fi network (or via USB), the changes are synced with iTunes or Windows Media Player and the songs are automatically downloaded to the smartphone;Tri-band HSDPA (3G) and quad-band EDGE support for the option of voice service in more than 220 countries, data service in more than 195 countries and 3G connectivity in more than 125 countries, including Japan and South Korea;
  • Removable, rechargeable 1300 mAhr battery that provides approximately 5.8 hours of talk time on 3G networks or 30 hours of audio playback or 6 hours of video playback.

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