By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Optus is getting the first crack at selling the new BlackBerry Torch 9800, with the other carriers having to wait unspecified period to sell the new device.

Billed as the best BlackBerry ever, the Torch combines a full QWERTY keypad with a full touchscreen to create the first BlackBerry offering both suites of data entry. As a result of incorporating both touch and key entry into a slide form factor, the Torch is somewhat thicker than other smartphone devices, though it is certainly the most customisable.

No outright price has been provided for this model, which is available from 25 October 2010. According to BlackBerry, the Torch will be available to Telstra and VHA customers “in the coming months”.

Key features include support for high-speed 3G networks worldwide, Wi-Fi connectivity, a 5-megapixel camera, built-in GPS and 8GB of included memory (expandable up to 36GB). The touchscreen is 3.2 inches, whilst the device is 0.57 inches thick.

At the launch event last night, which contrasted to Nokia’s N8 launch by actually doing what was advertised, the Australian Research in Motion team also hosted local BlackBerry app developers. According to local MD Adele Beachley, the BlackBerry app community is growing, with RIM focused more on encouraging usable business application development, rather than the multitude of pointless applications prevalent on the Apple and Android systems.

The new BlackBerry Torch 9800.