Review of the BlackBerry Torch 9800

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Look, Design, Feel (8/10)

Keep the Torch 9800 closed and you’ll notice RIM is still happy being loyal to its papyrus old designs. The slider makes all the difference to the hardware of the phone; otherwise, it still reminds you of the old boss 9700. The familiarity continues with the dimensions: 4.4″ x 2.4″ x 0.6″ and weight 5.7 ounces. Call and end keys, menu and back buttons and optical track pad navigation, so very reminiscent of BlackBerry, sports the area below the 3.2-inch half-VGA screen. 5.7 ounces is by no means light yet the Torch turns out to be quite handy and easily slips into a pocket. Occupying the left edge of the phone is the microUSB port while mute and lock buttons sit on the top. Expectantly, the 5-megapixel camera lens and LED flash are on the back of the phone.

As you smoothly slide the phone, there is an important hardware aspect to be noticed. The tracks of the slider are so perfectly aligned that when closed it is not possible for a person to judge whether it is a slider phone or not. The slide gives way to an impressive narrow QWERTY keyboard with high keys and smooth operative fucntions.

Getting to the touch screen, it is responsive enough to slight touches and doesn’t need clicks to activate applications. As with recent phones, there is the pinch to zoom experience, but it is not what we expected.

Features (7/10)

The Torch sports a 480 x 360 capacitive touch screen that hauls its way back in comparison to its competitors. The smartphone doesn’t deserve such a low-end resolution and even recent crop of low-end phones boast better screen displays. The pixilated text and images are left with more to be desired. RIM sings of a revamped OS, but the processor speed seems to be telling the same tale. The sluggish performance points at the CPU needing a new kick from RIM developers.

Thankfully, we are at our better selves when it comes to reviewing the 5-megapixel camera. It clicks impressive images with pinpoint detailing. The video can capture up to 640 x 480 resolutions of shots, which we would say, “was” standard until now as many phones are introducing HD video recording features.

Talking about web browsing and multimedia, the fact remains BlackBerry browsers have been a pain in the neck despite the phone giving out such positive vibes. However, we would clap our hands for RIM trying to get things together and develop a WebKit-based browser for the BlackBerry platform. The start-up page has improved with new features introduced, such as tabbed browsing and enhanced URL browsing. In addition, BlackBerry has improvised by including HTML and Javascript rendering along with support for HTML5 and CSS3. May be a little technical for some, but you will notice the difference while using the browser.

Now comes the most important part, the OS6 on the slider Torch 9800, both firsts for BlackBerry. The nice part is that RIM has not just tweaked it with new features here and there, but given the OS a fresh appeal. The screen is the first step from where you will start discovering the changes as you are introduced to the Quick Access area, notification bar, navigation bar and Favorites. In fact, Favorites has been expanded to contacts and websites, whereby you checkmark frequently used contacts and URL’s.

BlackBerry has made full use of the phone’s touch screen capabilities with an improved web browser and multimedia experience including an addition of an important feature call “Universal Search.” The feature scans all the contents of the phone with the search extended to websites and third party apps.

Connectivity (9/10)

If it is a BlackBerry, it is all about an unmatchable emailing experience. The regulars are included such as synchronizing Torch with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, support for corporate emailing in Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino, or Novell GroupWise and access to 10 personal/business email accounts on POP3 or IMAP4 servers.

The Quad band phone includes multiple connectivity options featuring 3G, Wi-Fi, GPRS, GPS, and Bluetooth 2.1. Some other important communication features presented are speakerphone, conference dialing, voice activated dialing, threaded messaging and instant messaging.

Performance (6/10)

Armed with OS 6.0 we expected BlackBerry Torch 9800 to work better or least at par with its ancestors. However, the CPU performance disappointed us to the T with sluggish switching between tasks and occasional freezing.

The call quality was optimum, as both sides did not complain of voice distortions as conversation continued smoothly. The same cannot be said of the speakerphone with hollow voices and low volume even at the highest level.

3G performed well with modest data speeds, and sites took no more than a minute to load. There were no hiccups whilst downloading apps or watching online videos.

We are happy with the battery performance as it lasted a little more than a day with moderate browsing, video playback and calls.

Value for Money (7/10)

RIM did restructure its OS quite a bit with new features and freshness brought to the Torch. However, that is not enough to capture business consumers, as there’s nothing drastic in the phone except for the handset design. Mid-range users and newcomers might find the phone appealing, but the downhill lies in its price, which is quite high. There are similar priced phones, but with better features such as Samsung Galaxy S, Motorola MILESTONE and the iPhone 4.

Pros

– Both touch screen and QWERTY included

– Improved OS

– 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity

– DivX and XviD support

– Handset feels nice to hold

Cons

– Sluggish performance at times

– Low-resolution screen

– VGA video recording

– Expensive

– Quiet speakerphone

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