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BlackBerry Torch review

A slider, a touchscreen, a new approach. But can the Torch keep RIMs fire burning?

BlackBerry Torch review: Interface

If you've owned a BlackBerry before, the first thing you'll notice about OS 6 is how much glossier it is.

It's nowhere near as cluttered as the old OS 4 found on models like the popular Curve 8310 and looks like the more recent OS 5 first found on the Bold 9000 with a little personality and colour injected into it.

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One of the big gripes younger users had with OS 5 was that, although the Home screen and menu had been given a bit of a polish, when you got into the phonebook and the inner menus, it was same old BlackBerry. Black text, white background and little imagination – a look that suited the boardroom users, but not the younger crowd RIM has increasingly been chasing.

Now, you notice that it has been given a significant update. The phonebook has thumbnails next to entries in the list, which seems to bring it alive. But it can look a bit untidy – especially if you only have photos for certain callers, since what you are left with is a series of nice photos mixed in with the stock icon the Torch provides.

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Another addition RIM's put time into developing on OS 6 is multiple Home screens, enabling users to swipe between different app categories, such as All, Favourites, Media, Downloads and Frequent.
It looks good but, in practice, can be a hindrance, and in many cases, we found ourselves simply using the All menu option simply because we knew where everything was.

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Blackberry's App World comes as standard and it's proving to be a steadily growing market. It's still nowhere near Apple's App Store or Android's Market in terms of volume, though – you don't get the same sense of imagination from developers in this store and it's hard to feel immersed in it like you can with Apple or Google.

BlackBerry torch

To be fair to Blackberry, this is as much the fault of developers who don't have the same financial incentives to write BB software – and as such, the apps that you do come across can be fairly costly because they're written with power users in mind, rather than people who may take a punt and spend £1.99 on a game to pass time.

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A YouTube app was preloaded on our device but close inspection revealed it to be merely a link to the mobile site.

There are also various social media options in the form of custom-made Twitter and Facebook apps, as well as a new Social Feeds app.

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Twitter works well, but Facebook feels like it's getting a bit old now. Little has changed since it was first launched and though it does the job well, it now seems to lack imagination in its layout.

BlackBerry torch

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The Social Feeds app is more of an aggregator that lists all of your streams together in the same was that Tweetdeck does on a Mac or FriendStream does on HTC devices. It can be useful, but for those who like to keep their feeds separate, it can be too cluttered. However, it's good that RIM has given users more options than none.

BlackBerry Maps comes preloaded as standard with a shiny new icon, but when you open it, you realise it's the same old app that just is not up to the job.

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We quickly found ourselves replacing it with Google Maps – a free app that completely shows up BlackBerry's effort and makes you wonder why RIM doesn't just drop Maps from the OS altogether.

BlackBerry torch

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Service Provider3
Input MethodTouchscreen, QWERTY
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory512 MB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
SAR Value0.86 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Product FamilyTorch
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleSlider
ColourBlack
Operating SystemBlackBerry
Brand NameBlackBerry
Battery Talk Time5.50 Hour
Product Model9800
Screen Size8.1 cm (3.2")
Screen Resolution480 x 360
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)161.1 g
Maximum Video Resolution640 x 480
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Operating System VersionBlackBerry OS 6.0
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Height111 mm
Width62 mm
Depth14.6 mm
Battery Standby Time408 Hour
ManufacturerBlackBerry
Product NameTorch 9800 Smartphone
Processor Speed624 MHz
Product LineTorch
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeProximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberTHRTORCH9800BLK
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.uk.blackberry.com
Marketing Information

Maximized Multimedia

Memory

With 8 GB of memory, expandable up to 32 GB with a microSD card, feel free to immerse yourself in all that inspires you.

Pinch and zoom

Use your fingers to pinch a screen for a zoomed out effect and expand two fingers to zoom in.

Enhanced music player

Thanks to BlackBerry 6 and a large screen, you can experience a full-featured music player that allows you to see full album art and track listings in portrait or landscape.