RIM’s BlackBerry Bold Touch looks epic, but hardware isn’t everything anymore. Can it compete?

Engadget got a prototype of the new BlackBerry 9900 and have “manhandled” the device until they were “blue in the face.”

The 9900, which is a BlackBerry Bold with a touchscreen, looks aesthetically stunning on the exterior. It has the same large, sturdy width of the iconic Bold but is both slimmer and lighter. It also has a sexy brushed aluminum band around its edging, similar to that of the iPhone 4.

The touchscreen has a higher resolution than any previous BlackBerry device and is 0.2 inches larger than previous Bolds at 2.8 inches (smaller than most touchscreen smartphone devices at 3.5 to 4 inches, but the 9900 still boasts BlackBerrys classic full physical keyboard). The buttons above the keyboard have been “murdered out”—that is, made all black instead of the red and green differentiators used in older models. The trackpad has also been given a nice backlight.

Under the hood, the 9900 has a 1.2 GHz processor, double that of the last Bold. Engadget says it is “noticeably more snappy than current BlackBerry devices on the market.” The device will run on BlackBerry’s next-gen OS 7.

The camera is still only five megapixels—some new smartphones and tablets have jumped to eight—but is capable of shooting 720p video.

All in all, it looks fantastic and I’m still a sucker for a physical keyboard.

But unless the OS 7 has very dramatic improvements over OS 6, and RIM can lure more app developers—neither of which appear particularly likely—I’ll be sticking with my iPhone.

Photo credit: Engadget