The Fire Still Burns
The original BlackBerry Torch 9800 was shrouded in mystery and rumors, which built up the anticipation. Ultimately, the hype may have been too much as the Torch 9800 fell flat. While it was a new and innovative design for a BlackBerry, consumers had long since moved to the iPhone or Android. The Torch 9800 didn't have the steam to really captivate and recapture its core audience. Enter, the Torch 9810, released with less hype and mystery, the Torch 9810 hopes to pick up where the original failed. It was released alongside the new Bold 9930 and Torch 9860.
Design and Display (2 out of 5)
At first glance, the Torch 9810 looks exactly like the original. There's really nothing to distinguish the latest iteration of the Torch from the previous one. Unlike the Torch 9860, which opts to go without a keyboard, the 9810 has a portrait slide out keyboard. This means the dimensions of the Torch 9810 are pretty much the same as the original. The biggest difference is the fact that the 3.2 inch display now has a UI enhancing piece of technology called "Liquid Graphics." It's a new feature RIM has implemented on touch-screen BlackBerries to help with the responsiveness on the phone and to also allow for more vibrant colors on the display.
Overall when it comes to design and display, it pretty much mirrors its predecessors. With the flurry of newer, sleeker and slimmer smartphones the Torch 9810 really looks aged. It is unfortunate that RIM didn't try to do something with the design to enhance the Torch 9810 like they did with the Torch 9850 and 9860.
Performance (4 out of 5)
While the outside of the Torch 9810 remains similar to its predecessor, the internals are where it shows a difference. The Torch 9810 features a 1.2 GHz processor and a dedicated Adreno 205 GPU, along with 768 MB of RAM. This is a huge upgrade from the original Torch 9800, which felt sluggish overall. BlackBerry OS 7 on the Torch 9810 runs rather smoothly with little to no lag displaying, it feels like a very responsive BlackBerry.
Along with the OS responsiveness, the Torch 9810 is also HSPA+ enabled, meaning it is a 4G smartphone. Data speeds on the Torch 9810 were impressive in 4G zones, but it comes at a price with AT&T's tiered structure. The call quality was loud and clear with no distortion or static for both incoming and outgoing calls. The battery life was also decent, especially considering the battery size was downgraded. While the Torch 9800 had a 1300 mAh battery, the 9810 has a 1270 mAh battery. Overall the performance on the Torch 9810 is a definite upgrade from the original and it really shines on for RIM.
User Interface (2 out of 5)
The Torch 9810 comes preloaded with BlackBerry OS 7 which is really an upgrade to OS 6. It's mostly a minor update
with more major changes occuring in the background. Like the design, the user interface really doesn't feel like it has changed from the original Torch, in fact, OS 7 just doesn't truly feel up to par with iOS or Android. There's still a lot of improvement needed, such as a dedicated home page where customization can occur, or better yet, notifications that can be looked at briefly while within a separate application. As it is now, you must back out of the application, then go through the menus to see why the LED is flashing at you.
The portrait slide out keyboard also remains unchanged. While it's not a horrible keyboard by any means, compared to the other smartphones in the BlackBerry line up, barring the old Pearl, it feels scrunched. The Torch 9810 does have a virtual keyboard as well if the user becomes tired with the physical keyboard. Overall using the Torch 9810 doesn't feel new or fresh, it feels rather outdated and cumbersome.
Features (3 out of 5)
The features on the Torch 9810 are a slight upgrade from the original. It packs a 5 megapixel camera, which is decent but it's not quite the best. It does have the capability to record video in 720p which is an amazing feat considering it's a BlackBerry. The pictures on the camera are decent, and the videos come out fairly cleanly. It is a bit disappointing that a better camera wasn't attached.
The other feature is the ability to connect to HSPA+, the 4G network. The speeds were decent and for the price of the Torch 9810, it's not really a standout feature to be 4G enabled. It was a good idea, by all means, as they seem to have forgotten it with some other recent BlackBerry releases. Overall, there's nothing too spectacular to make the features of the Torch 9810 stand out.
The Final Verdict (3 out of 5)
Overall the BlackBerry Torch 9810 ranks in as an 'Average' smartphone against its current set of competitors. It's a bit disappointing that RIM continues to release average smartphones, with no real updates to their line up. It seems RIM is staying in a holding pattern as competitors innovate and move forward. Hopefully the Torch 9810 isn't the last of the Torch series, and RIM really begins to shape up in the design, OS and features departments in the future.
- Source: Author's Experience
- Image Credit: Blackberry, http://us.blackberry.com/smartphones/blackberrytorch/