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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

BlackBerry Torch review: Media

Media is the new messaging for RIM and, with the Torch, that is a bold statement to make.
Indeed, the current advertising campaign centres on the phone's media capabilities without even mentioning messaging. That's how important it is to this phone's demographic.

BlackBerry torch

It does it well, too. The media section really does work.

Inevitably, all music phones these days will be pitted against a certain Apple creation, which has set the bar high in terms of ease and usability.

But RIM fights back well. The desktop software syncs music brilliantly and even the Mac version enables users to not only sync songs, but also iTunes playlists, photo albums and movies. We were expecting to run into all kinds of problems and niggles with this, but were very pleasantly surprised.

BlackBerry torch

Aside from the time it took (just over an hour to fill a 4GB card), it was fantastic and, to be fair to RIM, it takes just as long to transfer the same media to an iPhone or HTC device, such as the HTC Desire HD.

Playlists synced – complete with album art – and sound was great through headphones or streaming over Bluetooth to my car stereo. The built-in speaker is a bit tinny, but unless you're 13 years old and are planning to annoy fellow bus passengers, you probably won't use it for listening to music.

BlackBerry torch

Changing tracks is easy – there's even a Cover Flow-style option – and this is one area where you will find yourself habitually using the on-screen buttons.

BlackBerry torch

There are lots of options in there, too – not just to listen by artist, genre and so on, but also to explore music apps (for purchasing) or podcasts. This is a section of the Torch's OS that really has been well thought through and you can see why RIM is pushing media so heavily.

Pictures can be browsed with ease and stored in albums. There's also a slideshow option – though this seems like something that wouldn't get that much use unless you are planning on using your BlackBerry Torch as a digital picture frame (which you could do in the Torch dock if you buy one separately.)

BlackBerry torch

There's no FM radio which is unfortunate because sometimes it's nice to listen to one on the move – but it's no surprise since RIM has never sold a BlackBerry with one before anyway. It would be a good addition to a media phone, but any die-hard Radio 2 or Classic FM fans can download the TuneIn or WunderRadio apps, which stream most stations to the handset over the internet and, with the 3G capabilities, they do the job well.

Watching video was a pleasure – though the screen isn't the sharpest in the world, it does lend itself to watching footage on, especially in landscape. You won't find yourself getting through the Lord of the Rings trilogy on it, but for a quick music video or for browsing the YouTube site, it performs well. We watched a few half hour shows on it on the train and had no complaints.

BlackBerry torch

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.