BlackBerry Bold 9700 debuts next week, Vodafone confirmed as launch partner

RIM is set to show off the freshly-minded Bold 9700 smartphone next week with a media event on Thursday November 5th with at swank Sydney restaurant Assiette.

But it’s more of a lunch than a launch with RIM carefully wording the invitation as an event “to celebrate
the Australian debut of the BlackBerry Bold 9700”. While several devices will circulated on the day however the second-gen Bold (previously codenamed Onyx) isn’t expected to be available until late November.

As with previous releases Vodafone will be one of RIM’s local launch partners with a spokesperson for VHA (Vodafone Hutchison Australia) confirming to APC that “the Bold 9700 will be available to (our) customers later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.”

Optus and Telstra are also expected to carry the Bold 9700 which like the Bold 9000 runs on both the 2100MHz 3G and 850MHz Next G networks.

More significant for VHA and Optus is that the Bold 9700 also runs as an HSDPA device on the 900MHz spectrum which both carriers have deployed in regional Australia as part of their extended national 3G networks.

As befits RIM’s new flagship QWERTY device the Bold 9700 will introduce BlackBerry OS 5.0. It also swaps the ‘pearl’ trackball for the same optical trackpad as the recently-launched Curve 8520 upgrades the screen resolution to a sharp 480 x 360 (from the Bold 9000’s 480 x 320) and boosts the camera to 3.2 megapixels with autofocus.

There’s still no official word on an Australian debut for the touchscreen Storm 2 aka Storm 9550 which  launched last week in the UK (with Vodafone) and the US (through Verizon).