The BlackBerry Torch has officially been on sale for a day, and I thought it was time I shared my thoughts on RIM’s hot new slider. The BlackBerry Torch is a device that you learn to love over time. At first I wasn’t one hundred percent sold on the device, but after using it for a couple days my thoughts have changed. I’ve decided that I could easily make the Torch my primary device, and replace my Bold 9700 with it. With that being said I’m sure some may not agree, but check out the review below for my thoughts on the device.
I’ll start off with the basics. The BlackBerry Torch is RIM’s first smartphone to feature a sliding QWERTY keyboard, plus a touchscreen. Not just any touchscreen, but a normal touch screen as in the fact it doesn’t have SurePress, that (annoying to some) clicking screen which is found in the Storm series. When I first layed hands on the device I honestly thought it may have benefited from the SurePress clicking screen, that was before I became familiar with it. Continue reading to see the rest of my review…
You know how they say first impression is always the best? Well my first impression was wow. I opened the tiny box to see the device sitting there with all the plastic stickers covering it. After removing all that stuff, I didn’t even turn it on. I simply just slide it up and down. I was amazed how durable the device felt, and how it didn’t like it was going to break in my hands. After getting home I decided to power up the device and see how it works. I am happy to report the device doesn’t take long to boot up, its under a minute and half. BlackBerry 6 looks very transparent. It’s new but you still have that same ole’ BlackBerry feeling to it. The keyboard is pretty much identical to the Bold 9700, although the keyboard seems a little bit harder feeling (it that makes any sense). One thing that you will notice when holding the Torch is that its heavy, when comparing to the Bold 9700 and similar devices.
The BlackBerry Torch features what I’m staring to call the classic BlackBerry look. It aligns itself with the Storm2 and Bold 9700, by featuring the chrome around edges, branding (Torch) on back, lock and mute keys on the top, however it sports a new rigged design for the battery door. By now I’m sure you heard a lot of other websites say that the device is not strong enough to compete with other devices like the iPhone 4 and various Android smartphones, but I’m not giving up that easily. The BlackBerry Torch may not have the best display on the market, nor the fastest processor, but the question is does it really need it? You need to remember BlackBerry devices combine the best of both worlds business + consumer usage. I can defiantly say it’s no iPhone or EVO, but the BlackBerry Torch is a BlackBerry. It’s rocking the same great security, same email system, and BBM. Just with a slightly updated UI. Some won’t be impressed with the device, however others will love it. One thing that is new to BlackBerry is the 5.0 megapixel camera, found in the Torch. I wasn’t extremely impressed with the quality of the camera. I found pictures to be a little grainy at times. Below is a sample picture I snapped with the Torch in some pretty good sunlight outdoors.
BlackBerry 6 Thoughts
While using this device I had a ton of people ask me what I thought about BlackBerry 6, and how I thought it’ll run on other models, like the Bold family. Like I said above, BlackBerry 6 offers the same great BlackBerry experience, but with a few new surprises, and updated look. RIM has tied a lot of social networking into BlackBerry 6, and for some they will love it, others may not use it.
RIM has introduced new things like Social Feeds, which will bring all status updates from AIM, BBM, Facebook, Google Talk, MySpace, Twitter, Windows Live, and Yahoo! messenger into one screen. It seems that RIM has even manged to include RSS feeds (thanks to their acquisition of Viigo?) into the app. I’ll be honest I found the social feeds app more annoying than anything, because if I wanted to check someones status I would go in the appropriate app. For anyone who is a hooked on RSS feeds (like myself) I am happy to report you can install Viigo (by selecting a Storm 2, running OS 5). I do hope that RIM continues to evolve Viigo as a stand-alone app, and not integrate it into Social Feeds.
Other great things in BlackBerry 6 include the Universal Search, which allows you to start typing right from the home screen, or by pressing the search button in the top right hand corner. Universal Search allows you to search pretty much everything on the device, such as contacts, apps, email accounts, text messages, bookmarks, browser history, calendar, all media (music, ring tones, videos, etc), memo pad, tasks, BlackBerry maps, BBM, options, and pretty much every other app on the device. You can also adjust the search settings if you don’t want it going through certain email accounts or applications.
Pinch Zoom! One thing I really love about BlackBerry 6 is how you can pinch zoom emails, pictures, web pages, etc. It makes it easier to read small text, and works very well with such a large display.
Everyone has been asking how RIM’s new Webkit Browser works in BlackBerry 6. I am happy to report it works well, but could still use some slight tweaking. The new Webkit browser sports tabbed browsing, pinch zoom, and tab to zoom, but I’m still not 100% sold on it. The new Webkit browser works 1000 times better than the old browser found in OS 5, but it still feels a little slow, when comparing to iPhone or Android. If I had to pick a browser to closer compare it to I would have to say its more like the Android browser, than the Safari one found in the iPhone.
I thought it would be fun to test some apps that I used on my Bold 9700 with OS 5.0. I’m happy to report I was able to install Viigo, The Weather Eye, Capture It, the BBSync App Store, and Poynt. One app I was unable to install was SocialScope, however it doesn’t seem like too many will miss it, with all the new stuff coming out. You won’t have to worry, it seems pretty much all apps will install from OS 5. I would recommend checking out BlackBerry App World and verifying they’re compatible. I should also mention that BlackBerry 6 comes pre-loaded with Twitter for BlackBerry, Facebook, MySpace, AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo messenger, Google Talk, and the BlackBerry Podcast app.
This was a really tricky subject for me. The BlackBerry Torch runs on a F-S1 battery, and while it may look similar to the battery found in the Storm series, it is not the same. The BlackBerry FS-1 battery found in the Torch 9800 is a 1270mAh battery, were as the Bold 9000/9700 sports a stronger 1500mAh battery. According to RIM, the Torch’s battery is quoted for 5.5 hours of talk time, and 17 days standby (on GSM), however I found I couldn’t reach that. When I used my Torch for primary use, it was email, BBM, and a lot of web browsing. With that being said I was able to get about 11-12 hours on a battery, with moderate use. I wouldn’t say the battery is as strong as my Bold 9700, but it certainty was bearable.
This is a big one for some readers. The BlackBerry Torch seems to have decent call quality. I wouldn’t say its amazing, but it sounds decent and has good volume. It’s surprising because BlackBerry focuses heavily on business, but the overall call quality has never been amazing from RIM. I find this is something you really need to test for yourself, because it can be network dependent. I have tested the BlackBerry Torch on Rogers, Bell and Telus, and was satisfied.
To finish off this review I’m going to say the BlackBerry Torch is an awesome device. With that being said there is always room for improvement. I think BlackBerry 6 has huge potential, and with the right hardware will do very well. The BlackBerry Torch has great build quality and I think is a great device for those looking for the large display, plus full QWERTY keyboard. Would I recommend buying it? Yes, as long as you aren’t expecting it to be the next killer smartphone. I strongly suggest you visit your local AT&T store and check one out. For fellow International readers (including Canada) the BlackBerry Torch should be heading that way soon. I’m sorry to say you’ll have to patiently sit back and wait, or purchase one from AT&T and unlock it (more to come on that soon). Going forward I really can’t wait to see what RIM has in store for BlackBerry devices in 2011. I think that the Torch is a great stepping stone for RIM. With that being said, my final thoughts on the device are pretty positive, however I do hope to see the next generation Torch get some processor and display love.
- Great design
- Slide feels solid
- 4GB on-board memory
- Same great keyboard as Bold 9700
- Great on-screen keyboards (including SureType and full QWERTY)
- Loud speakers for multimedia playback
- Comes loaded with BlackBerry 6
- Small processor, when compared to other smartphones on the market
- Display could be better
- No case included in box
- BlackBerry maps is M.I.A.
- Smaller battery than Bold 9700
It should also be noted that my BlackBerry Torch review unit came pre-loaded with OS 126.96.36.199, and some things may chance with future software updates.
If you have any questions about the BlackBerry Torch 9800 I would love to hear them. Feel free to post a comment below, and I will try and answer them as best possible.