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BlackBerry Torch review

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

Our Verdict

For a phone that's supposed to be the poster child of the new BlackBerry 6 OS, we hoped for a lot more. If you're a BlackBerry stalwart then you might find some joy here, but otherwise the Torch is unlikely to convert many of the Android and iPhone brigade.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 512 MB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 5.50 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 480 x 360

View full specification

For

  • Smooth touchscreen control
  • Great camera with scene selectors
  • Slide-out keyboard is a good compromise
  • Bright and crisp 3.2-inch screen
  • Good enterprise asset-tracking options

Against

  • Too slow for serious smartphone use
  • Keyboard is too small
  • App selection too practical
  • Not great for media
  • A bit on the bulky side

We've overhauled our BlackBerry Torch review in light of recent firmware upgrades and a big drop in price - from £40 to £30 a month in some cases, and nearly £100 off the SIM free price.

Take a look at this updated review to see if this extra cost savings make the BlackBerry Torch a market leading smartphone.

For years, they were the businessman's workhorse – the status symbol that you'd made it in the corporate world. But Blackberry's approach has changed of late – buoyed on (or shaken) by the success of Apple's iPhone and various Android competitors, maker RIM has reshaped its approach.

As Apple tries to show its iPhone can make it in the corporate world, Blackberry's changed its tune and is now targeting the traditionally youthful music and social media lovers.

After the love-it-or-hate-it SurePress screen of the BlackBerry Storm and Storm 2, the Torch has gone for what is now the industry standard: a capacitive screen with no clicks needed.

BlackBerry torch

The device feels like a quality product. It's shiny and has a 3.2-inch display. While not up there with the iPhone 4's Retina display in terms of clarity, as far as physical size goes, the Torch's screen does give the impression of being bigger than it is.

BlackBerry torch

The phone's heavy enough to notice – yet not enough to make carrying it a chore.
But while the sliding keyboard locks in and out without rattling, this doesn't feel like a device that would survive being dropped onto a hard floor too many times.

BlackBerry torch

The key selling point when the Torch was released in late 2010 was that it was the first device to ship with BlackBerry OS 6. But now, it's got competition in the Bold 9780.

Function-wise, they're the same with GPS, Bluetooth, 3G, Wi-Fi and a 5.0MP shooter –but even though the screens are of an identical resolution, the Torch's falls behind that of the Bold 9780 because the pixels are spread over a larger area, resulting in it not looking as sharp.

BlackBerry torch

One of BlackBerry's strengths has always been just how much you can customise its devices. This is either through BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) – where the employer customises it and you have little control – or BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), where you can change as much as you like. Indeed, when you go from an iPhone to a Blackberry, you realise just how closed Apple's system is.

But can you have too much of a good thing? The answer is probably yes.

BlackBerry torch

For example, changing the ringtone is easy enough, but customising profiles is an intense experience, with so many options even a power user is left reaching for the smelling salts. Setting up ringtones, text alerts, MMS alerts, email alerts, Twitter, Facebook, the browser, IM, BBM and so on gets confusing when you realise just many options you have, and you end up giving up halfway through.

One huge omission has also been made with the Torch. When we opened the box, we were pleased with the various accessories (including standard BlackBerry international chargers), but where was the case? Close inspection revealed that this phone doesn't come with one, which we find unforgivable.

BlackBerry has bundled one with almost every phone it's made in the last few years and there's a reason for that – not only do the holders protect the phone from bumps, they also automatically shut off the screen and put the phone into standby, helping the battery last even longer. If the phone is in your pocket or bag, it prevents you accidentally dialling a contact - although the touchscreen slider should help there.

We can't, for the life of us, understand why BlackBerry have left such an obvious accessory out of the Torch's box, other than to encourage you to buy one. If that is the case, it will certainly irritate the legions of users that have become accustomed to getting a fancy new holster with every new BlackBerry.

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
Memory Card Size Included4 GB
Memory Card Type IncludedmicroSD
Operating System VersionBlackBerry OS 6.0
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Call FeaturesCall Log
Height111 mm
Width62 mm
Depth14.6 mm
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.