The battle for the best smartphone on the market continues as iPhone and Android devices go head to head. This year, BlackBerry decided to join the arena by releasing a super smartphone, the BlackBerry Torch 9800. Read on to find out if the Torch 9800 really is “the best BlackBerry ever” released by RIM.
If you are a BlackBerry fan, you would probably say at first glance that the Torch 9800 got its form from the Bold 9700 (go ahead and google BlackBerry Bold 9700, we’ll wait). Maybe that was the reason why early rumors and leaks of this phone revealed it as ‘Bold 9800’. Both models have the same metal-chrome-like (but wait, it’s plastic!) trimmings that outline the sides and top-back part of the phone.
The Torch has a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, with a 480 x 360 resolution. Below the screen, you will find the traditional call, menu, end call/power buttons, and the optical trackpad.
The rest of the body is made of hard plastic with a very rubbery finish. The rear cover has a ribbed coating that will aid you in having a firm grip. You will find the 5 megapixel camera with LED flash also at the back of the phone.
The lock and mute buttons are situated at the top. The location of the lock button is good since it is very accessible butoOn the other hand, there were times that the phone gets accidentally unlocked. At the left side, you will find the Micro USB jack for charging and data transfer. I had a hard time handling the phone while typing since the charging port is near the keypad area. I remember that they already resolved this issue when BlackBerry released the Curve 8520 and Bold 9700 models by placing the charging port on the top-left part of the phone. On the right side of the device, we have the 3.5mm headphone jack, volume buttons, and the convenience key.
The QWERTY keyboard can be seen when you slide the screen upwards. The sliding mechanism feels solid and sturdy compared to other slider phones (non-BlackBerry) I’ve used before. I’m really impressed with the design and build of the Torch’s keyboard. The keys are well defined and nicely separated. Again, this is similar to the Bold’s design and the typing experience was excellent.
The Torch 9800 is the first BlackBerry to run OS 6. This is the latest operating system offered by RIM that has refined and improved older versions of the BlackBerry system. I think it’s about time that they released something new with regards to the phone’s interface. Here’s a rundown of the main features of the BlackBerry 6 OS:
Home screen: The user interface works in both landscape and portrait modes. The main menu is customizable by moving the arrangement of icons according to several categories: Favorites, Media, Downloads, and Frequently used apps.
Browser: OS 6 offers the webkit browser which empowers the multi-touch feature of the Torch. It also has the pinch-to-zoom feature and tabbed web browsing.
Universal Search: Out of all the new features offered by OS 6, this would be my favorite since it allows you to search for absolutely anything in your smartphone from one convenient location.
Social Feeds: This feature allows you to see all of your social (Twitter, Facebook, BBM, YM, etc.) and RSS feeds in one place.
Multimedia: You can stream and play music, podcasts, and videos seamlessly. The 5.0 megapixel camera with LED flash also offers different capture and sharing modes. Here are some shots taken using the Torch’s camera:
Performance and user experience
Like previous BlackBerries I’ve used, calling, sending and receiving emails was also pain-free. Navigating through its UI is very smooth despite its 624MHz processor. Blackberries are not known as multimedia phones and the Torch is no different but its 3.2” display makes it an okay portable media player.
For me, the Torch’s battery life was excellent like the other BlackBerry models I have used. Even with a large and bright screen, multi-touch feature and heavy usage of apps running in the background, a fully charged battery can last a full day.
So, is the BlackBerry Torch 9800 “the best Blackberry ever”? I will say, so far, so good. The Torch 9800 is definitely not an Android or iPhone killer but it’s a great BB phone since it has what an existing BlackBerry user might be looking for, capacitive touchscreen and the improved OS 6.
As for new BlackBerry users, the touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard maybe a bit daunting for first-time users but the improvements on OS 6 upgrade should be something to look out for. Or they can opt for the traditional-looking and cheaper BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 and just wait for the OS 6 upgrade for it.
BlackBerry Torch 9800 Specifications:
- 624 MHz processor
- 3.2″ display @ 360×480 pixels
- 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM
- 4GB storage (up to 32GB via microSD, 4GB included)
- 3G HSDPA; HSUPA
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth 2.1
- 5MP autofocus camera w/ LED flash + video
- BlackBerry OS 6.0
- GPS w/ a-GPS support
- 1300mAh Li-Ion battery
- SRP: Php29,800
Editor’s note: This post is contributed by Jai Katipunan with some slight revisions by the editor. Jai is a die-hard BlackBerry user who spends her salary on BBM.