BlackBerry, once the reigning champion of smartphones has slowly lost its grasp as powerful contenders to the title such as the Apple iPhone, Motorola Droid, Samsung Vibrant and many other Android based phones have risen to power. The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is RIM’s delve back into the market to try to gain back its share. The BlackBerry Torch is one of the first BlackBerry phones to feature the new BlackBerry 6 OS. In addition, it’s their first foray into the touchscreen world without a clicking touchscreen.
BlackBerry Torch Specifications
- Dimensions: 4.37 x 2.44 x 0.57 inches (111 x 62 x 14.6 mm)
- Weight: 5.68 oz (161 g)
- Display: 3.2-inch Color HVGA+ capacitive touchscreen, 360 x 480 pixels with multitouch
- Memory: 4096 MB built in, with 1microSD card slot
- Software: BlackBerry OS 6
- Processor: 624 MHz
- Battery: Standard Lithium Ion, 1300 mAh
(3 out of 5)
The BlackBerry Torch is designed simplisticly and stylistically, while also staying true to its BlackBerry roots. One would not confuse the Torch with any other phone. What really makes the Torch unique is the fact that it comes with a slide out QWERTY keyboard, in portrait mode, which is a rare functionality. The only other smartphone that comes to mind with a touchscreen and slide out portrait QWERTY keyboard is the Palm Pre. As with other RIM products, the BlackBerry Torch feels solid in your hand and unlike the other RIM products, the BlackBerry Torch is comparable to the Apple iPhone 4 in size. No more worrying about carrying a ‘bulky’ BlackBerry to your next meeting.
Though the design makes this phone stick out from the rest of its BlackBerry brethren, when compared to other smartphones currently in the market, the BlackBerry Torch seems a bit lacking. Placing this phone side by side with the iPhone 4, or the Samsung Vibrant, the BlackBerry Torch will look less enticing and is not really something to drool over. That does not mean the phone is not aesthetically pleasing, it is still a beautiful and solidly built phone, it just shows that the competition has become that much stronger.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
RIM did a fantastic job with their upgrade to BlackBerry OS 6. With smartphones becoming more
and more popular with the release of the Apple iPhone and Android OS, RIM has lost quite a lot of their share of users. With BlackBerry OS 6, they’ve refocused their efforts in capturing back their enterprise business users while also aiming to bring in regular users. They’ve really hit their stride in bridging the gap between professional business users and personal, regular users.
When the BlackBerry Torch is first turned on, you’re left with a clean empty background, ripe for customization. Similar to an Android platform phone, you simply click on the bottom arrow to bring up your applications. BlackBerry OS 6 groups the applications into separate folders and has one simply labeled as ‘All’ to view all your applications. In classic fashion, at the top, is your notifications, which reminds you of everything from e-mail to tweets.
The user interface has greatly improved since the original BlackBerry, and with the phone being touchscreen, its much more easily accessible for new users. Compared to Android 2.1 or the iPhone OS, BlackBerry OS 6 holds up fairly well. Though it may not surpass the abilities of the other two, and needs some tweaks here and there, it’s still a strong contender in the smartphone market when it comes to operating systems.
Performance (4 out of 5)
The BlackBerry Torch isn’t lacking per se, but the 624 MHz processor is rather lacking compared to the newer 1 GHz processors currently in phones such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S series of phones. The BlackBerry Torch is responsive but still lacks the snappiness that the iPhone 4, Motorola Droid and the Samsung Vibrant have. In today’s world of fast paced technology, the weaker processor could prove to be the downfall of the BlackBerry Torch.
Call quality is crystal clear and crisp, and like all other previous Blackberries I’ve used, moving in and out of calls was a cinch. The speakerphone is also very powerful and easy to hear, unlike some of the other smartphones that I’ve used. Compared to the Samsung Vibrant, the BlackBerry Torch has much better speakerphone quality.
Battery power was very impressive, like other Blackberries I’ve used in the past. There were times when I went to bed without plugging in the device, and left to work the next day and didn’t even notice a difference in the battery drain. Even with most features on, I was able to go through a full day without hitting the halfway marker on my battery. Very impressive battery life for a smartphone.
Features (3 out of 5)
The BlackBerry Torch comes feature packed for both professional and regular users. In the past, many of the BlackBerry OS features were limited to professional users and very badly designed. With the introduction of BlackBerry OS 6, the features have been upgraded to meet the demand of a wider audience. The camera with LED flash is still there, similar to the other BlackBerry releases, as well as the instant feeds of information, but there’s been massive improvements thanks to BlackBerry OS 6.
One of the most limiting items with the original Blackberries was their abysmal web browser. The original web browser was extremely limited and horrible at rendering pages in their full HTML glory. With BlackBerry OS 6 comes a new browser, a browser that supports full rendering of web pages and has pinch to zoom functionality. The new web browser is easily comparable to the browsers offered on the iPhone and Android OS phones.
The media player has also been upgraded to a much more user friendly version. Offering a screen that’s very similar to cover flow, RIM has really upgraded the media player. At times, some MP4 files were unwelcome, but the majority of the time, the BlackBerry Torch was able to process and play the files seamlessly. Another feature point of the BlackBerry Torch and its media player is the wireless syncing feature. It’s currently available on Windows only, but it offers the ability to sync media files on a PC to your BlackBerry Torch wirelessly. The results are a mixed bag, as there are times where the syncing is inconsistent.
The application store isn’t as up to speed as Android OS or iOS, and surprisingly many of the applications aren’t backwards compatible. This is a big setback for the BlackBerry Torch.
Verdict (3 out of 5)
The BlackBerry Torch is a big step forward for RIM in integrating with regular users. Once the mighty powerhouse of smartphones, their throne has been challenged with more user friendly smartphones. RIM has been a bit late stepping into the game, but with BlackBerry OS 6 and the BlackBerry Torch, they’ve made that first step a good step. Though not mind blowing in innovation or design, the BlackBerry Torch still holds up fairly well against the likes of the iPhone 4, Motorola Droid X, and the Samsung Vibrant. However, the BlackBerry Torch will not be able to stand toe to toe and it definitely ranks as an ‘average’ phone when compared to the other competitors out in the market.