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BlackBerry Torch 9860 review

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

Our Verdict

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 4 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 4.70 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 800 x 480

View full specification

For

  • Good build quality
  • Great screen
  • Generally well-designed interface
  • Excellent messaging options
  • Good signal strength and 3G speed

Against

  • Lack of polish in OS
  • Difficult keyboard
  • GPS issues
  • Browser is still below average
  • Too pricey

It's taken a ridiculously long time to come, but this is it. This is the one. After the clickable screen of the BlackBerry Storm 2 and the touchscreen-with-slide-out-keyboard shenanigans of the original BlackBerry Torch, RIM has finally released a proper touchscreen smartphone.

This 3.7-inch touchscreen the largest RIM has ever made, it's also the highest resolution, with a handy 480 x 800 pixels on display. Which is good, because you want the new BlackBerry OS 7 to look its best, don't you?

If you're stuck deciding between this and the two other recently released BlackBerry phones, never fear - we've got an enlightening group test to pit the Torch 9860, Torch 9810 and Bold 9900 against each other to see which takes your fancy:

Powering this is a single-core 1.2GHz processor, not dual-core like the 1.2GHz processor humming along in the Samsung Galaxy S2. RIM's opinion is that dual-core is only necessary for tablets as it stands.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

That said, a single-core processor never did the iPhone 4 any harm. And since the BlackBerry Torch 9860 doesn't deal with HD 1080p video like many phones, including the LG Optimus 2X, have a whizzy 3D interface like the HTC Sensation, or do stereoscopic 3D images like the LG Optimus 3D, we suspect it'll get along fine with a single-core CPU for now.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

There's 4GB of on-board storage, although you can't use this any way you'd like, as we'll explain in the Apps section of this review. You can add up to 32GB more storage via the microSD card slot, which will be handy if you want to take a lot of videos with the 720p HD recording that's now available.

For the old-fashioned among us, you can take still photos with the 5MP camera, and there's a pretty powerful LED flash.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

The usual wireless accoutrements are featured, with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi available, and 3G with a download speed of up to 14.4Mbps. Bluetooth is available, of course, as is cabling up with the micro USB connector.

The design of the BlackBerry Torch 9860 sits somewhere in between RIM's range and Samsung's Galaxy line. It's really quite appealing – sleek, but still obviously a BlackBerry.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

Although it's mostly plastic – save for the metal back plate – there's no give in its build at all, and it feels high quality (although to call it premium might be being a bit generous).

Across the bottom are five physical buttons: Call, Menu, Select, Escape and End (which is also the power button).

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

The middle Select button is also an optical trackpad, which might seem odd to have in an all-touch device, but you'll see why it's there in the Interface section of this review.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

On the left-hand side of the device is the micro USB port, while the right side houses the volume controls and mute key, and the lone Convenience key.

There's a new design for these that makes them very subtle, but still easy to press. The 3.5mm jack is also on this side, which isn't massively convenient (we really prefer to have it on the top or bottom).

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

The top of the handset is the Lock button, while notification-light addicts will find this in its usual spot.

The back of the BlackBerry Torch 9860 features the 5MP camera's lens, and the LED flash. The metal backplate has a slightly matt feel to it that – combined with the overall shape and svelte profile – makes the phone very comfortable to hold.

BlackBerry torch 9860 review

The Torch 9860 actually measures in at 120 x 62 x 11.5mm, making it ever so slightly larger than an iPhone 4 across the board. At 135g, it's fairly middle ground when it comes to weight, too.

The BlackBerry Torch 9860 will be available free on contract for around £36 per month.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory4 GB
Built-in FlashNo
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
SAR Value1.12 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyTorch
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemBlackBerry
Brand NameBlackBerry
Battery Talk Time4.70 Hour
Product Model9860
Screen Size9.4 cm (3.7")
Screen Resolution800 x 480
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)135 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Operating System VersionBlackBerry OS 7.0
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Call FeaturesCall Forwarding, Call Waiting, Conference Call, Call Log
Height120 mm
Width62 mm
Depth11.5 mm
Radio TunerNo
ManufacturerBlackBerry
Product NameTorch 9860 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Product LineTorch
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberPRD-33124-020
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.uk.blackberry.com
Marketing Information

Multimedia marvel

Powered by the new BlackBerry 7 OS and Liquid Graphics, your photos, videos, games and apps come to life in incredible detail on the large screen.

Picture perfect

Capture life's little surprises with 720p HD video so you can relive them over and over again. Or pull off amazing photos with face detection, 4X zoom and image stabilization.

All-touch, refined

A spectacular 3.7" touch screen is the largest on a BlackBerry smartphone yet. It boasts millions of colors for a stunning viewing experience, and provides a smooth, accurate and fast typing experience.