BlackBerry Torch 9860 review

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

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RIM's promised an upgraded browser for the new range of BlackBerry phones, including the Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Curve 9360.

With 802.11n Wi-Fi (the fast kind) and 3G on board, the new 1.2GHz processor and Liquid Graphics engine raring to go, the Torch 9860 promised to be the best BlackBerry phone for browsing yet.

And it is. But is still isn't good enough.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

Speed-wise, the browser itself is adequate, without really impressing that much. The decent signal strength translates to very good 3G speeds, though.

On most sites (but not all), it can be bested in a straight race to load quickest by the iPhone 4 when both are on Wi-Fi, even though Apple's phone is over a year older and has less horsepower.

The iPhone is certainly the fairest test for it, since they're both based on the WebKit browser engine, and both lack Flash.

Yes, unlike its dual-core tablet brother, the BlackBerry PlayBook, the Torch 9860 can't play videos in Adobe's popular format.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

This makes the frequent laggy operation when browsing more irritating – we're used to that sort of behaviour from Android phones on Flash-heavy sites, but the Blackberry Torch 9860 frequently suffers from unresponsive scrolling and zooming for no apparent reason.

We should stress that it's not all the time though, and when it's behaving itself, websites look great on the vibrant, 480 x 800 screen.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

But there are too many rough edges compared to the competition. Text reflow is a particularly bad offender. Zoom in and it'll do its best to fit the text better for you, but success isn't guaranteed.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

Double-tap on a column and it will reflow, after a delay. Sometimes it'll leave the edges of the last words cut off. Zoom in further in the hope it will reflow further, and it seems to give a half-hearted effort, then give up and leave the text roughly how it was.

Most annoyingly, it doesn't redraw the fonts as you zoom, so if you want nice big text, you'll find the words badly pixelated.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

RIM is still making steps forward when it comes to overall browsing, but it's well behind where all the other big players are.

However, there are plenty of options in the browser, as you'd expect from a BlackBerry smartphone. You can swiftly create bookmarks, share pages on Facebook and Twitter and add sites to the Home screen.

You can have multiple Tabs open at once, with a slick 3D carousel to browse between them (although it did once just close all of ours without any warning).

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

The only gripe with browsing these options is that it has some problems with the touch interface. It can be quite fiddly to get the URL bar back up just by touch, because the button is absolutely tiny.

It also seemed to misread quite a few taps there, opening the bookmarks section instead of entering a new URL.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

We don't think the accuracy problems were with the touchscreen, because we didn't notice them anywhere else in the operating system.