Review: Blackberry Torch

By Branko Miletic

It’s not often I compliment a mobile phone maker on both design as well as functionality, but it looks like RIM deserve one huge pat on the back for their BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone.

However let’s be honest here – RIM is one company that at the very least should be getting their smartphones right and with the Torch 9800, they have shown all of us how it’s done.

From the moment you take the Torch out of the box, install your SIM and fire it up, the feeling is of a smartphone that someone somewhere has put a bit of thought into the design.

With its responsive touchscreen buttons, all of which are very much business-orientated apps and a 3.2 inch screen, which is not just easy to read, but stylish to boot. BlackBerry’ standard QWERTY keyboard has been a proven winner in the past and that is no exception here.

Running the new BlackBerry OS 6, the unit proved to be seamless – the new OS has something of the speed of Android and the familiarity of Symbian – yet it proved to be stable, fast and easy to use.

The company did lose a bit of consumer kudos when it launched the Storm a while ago as the first attempt to have a BlackBerry with a touchscreen was not the raging success RIM hoped it would be. However, to their credit, the company got the engineers to fix the bugs and viola! – the Torch was born.

With a solid three-day battery life (that’s with so-called ‘normal’ usage), a 5- megapixel camera, Bluetooth, WiFi, 4Gb storage space, 624MHz processor and dimensions of 62 x 14.6 x 111 mm, the Torch is, dare I say, a shining example of all that is possible with a bit of design forethought.

And although I don’t have a BlackBerry account and could only use the standard phone functions, the Torch’s design feel, speed and look almost, for a brief second, made me want to have it as my own phone.

However, will the BlackBerry Torch lure the masses away from Apple’s iPhone 4 or the various Android clones? Doubtful. But will the Torch slow the slide of BlackBerry users to the opposition – quite possibly.

Lastly, when we talk smartphones today, we can’t not mention Apps. Now it would be no great surprise to learn that the BlackBerry Torch has nowhere near the number of Apps available compared to say the iPhone- the figure is something like for every one BlackBerry App, there are something like 10 iPhone Apps. Having said that, most Apps for the Torch are very business orientated and you also have to remember that there are many iPhone and Android Apps that are really useless—something that the makers of BlackBerry have so far avoided.

Overall the he Torch gives away what I long suspected- that RIM is a company that knows what it’s doing as long as it’s not trying to follow the herd.

4 out of 5 Shacks

Pros: Well-designed, classy look and feel, responsive touchscreen
Cons: BlackBerry OS 6 is not a revolution and it a more powerful processor would not hurt