BlackBerry Torch 9860 review

Does RIM's first proper all-touch smartphone shine?

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You will be shocked – shocked! – to learn that messaging is something of a forté for BlackBerry phones. Who knew? It's a tradition that continues on the BlackBerry Torch 9860, with more options than ever before, tweaked to make better use of the touch interface and screen space.

There's a Messaging app, which brings together your messages from emails, text messages, Twitter DMs and Facebook messages.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

There's also a separate text messaging app, but we expect most people will be content with the universal Messaging one. It divides your messages up by date, and greys the logo out when they've been read. It's highly responsive, easy to understand and totally foolproof to set up.

When you tap on a message, you get a different interface depending on which app you're taken through to. The text message and Twitter apps both use speech bubbles to communicate threaded conversations, for example, while Facebook just puts one message on top of another without much in the way of decoration.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

The text inbox is fairly easy to follow – one colour for the other person, a different one for you. There are shortcuts at the bottom to bring up the keyboard, send a written message, add a new recipient, attach something to the message and a way to skip to the oldest unread message (which can be very old if you've just linked up something like your Facebook account).

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

So onto the keyboard. We don't like it. It's too fiddly. We'd like to say there's some single obvious flaw, and it would be fine if they'd only fix that one thing.

But it's not that simple. RIM has stuck to the layout of the traditional BlackBerry physical keyboard as much as possible, with numbers in a grid and the @ key stuck out at the top-right. It's totally different to the rest out there, and we think the keyboards in iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 work better, to be blunt.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

It also doesn't automatically customise itself well enough, not offering the @ symbol when entering an email address field, for example.

More than that, it's just screen-snappingly difficult to type anything legibly at all in portrait, even with the autocorrect.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

And to compound the frustration, even trying to hit the backspace key usually results in tapping L. It's better in landscape, as you might expect, but still feels a lot harder to use than its competitors.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

Writing an email generally has changed very little on the new screen, with just a big blank canvas on the screen and a bunch of options, including adding attachments, available from the Menu key.

But when the keyboard's driving you nuts, hasn't the point of owning a BlackBerry phone been diluted somewhat? Perhaps you'll be better off if you write shorter messages, which is a clunky, groaning segue into the Social Feeds app.

It brings Twitter and Facebook updates in one place, along with BBM, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger.

BBM, Twitter and Facebook are all integrated throughout the OS, so sharing things via your network of choice is easy.

In fact, BBM is getting more integration with other apps, the showpiece being integration with the Wikitude augmented reality browser, so you can see BBM users near you and strike up a conversation.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

Whether you find this creepy or a revolution in interaction is up to you. We make no judgements here at TechRadar. Well, except in reviews and stuff, obviously.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory4 GB
Built-in FlashNo
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
SAR Value1.12 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyTorch
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemBlackBerry
Brand NameBlackBerry
Battery Talk Time4.70 Hour
Product Model9860
Screen Size9.4 cm (3.7")
Screen Resolution800 x 480
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)135 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Operating System VersionBlackBerry OS 7.0
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Height120 mm
Width62 mm
Depth11.5 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time333.60 Hour
ManufacturerBlackBerry
Product NameTorch 9860 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Product LineTorch
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberPRD-33124-020
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.uk.blackberry.com
Marketing Information

Multimedia marvel

Powered by the new BlackBerry 7 OS and Liquid Graphics, your photos, videos, games and apps come to life in incredible detail on the large screen.

Picture perfect

Capture life's little surprises with 720p HD video so you can relive them over and over again. Or pull off amazing photos with face detection, 4X zoom and image stabilization.

All-touch, refined

A spectacular 3.7" touch screen is the largest on a BlackBerry smartphone yet. It boasts millions of colors for a stunning viewing experience, and provides a smooth, accurate and fast typing experience.