BlackBerry Torch (9810) Review| By Cam Lincoln
What do you want out of a smartphone? Same thing you had in the past, wrapped up in a new box? Or do you demand innovation, new features -- phones that give you something you've never had -- that you never even knew you wanted?
RIM is no longer an innovator, and you can tell the BlackBerry Torch 9810 isn't an innovative phone. It offers improvements on older models, sure -- but even its most attractive parts are already wilting on the vine. You can't slap on a touch screen and say it's cutting-edge. And I never imaged the BlackBerry's first 4G device would be so bland and boring.
From the design, you can tell all the improvements are just Band-Aid fixes. Black and silver brushed metal replaces the older glossier chrome material on the frame, though the size and shape remain the same as the original Torch. It looks a bit better, but if you drop the 9810 on the floor, it'll still separate into two pieces -- RIM didn't bother improving the build quality, instead making minor aesthetic touch-ups. Dimples on the back don't make it harder to snap off. The frame remains clunky but easy to break. No matter what you paint the plastics with, it isn't a model of durability -- especially one with a rigid slider mechanism. In fact, aside from the material switch-up, this could be the 9800.
Plunk them on the scale -- both exactly five and a half ounces. Pull out that measuring tape -- yep, the 9810 shares a girthy 0.6-inch waist with its older sibling. I'm surprised RIM didn't make any efforts to slim it down, considering how much thinner the Bold 9930 is to the 9810.
The 3.2-inch touch screen measures the same size as its predecessor, and a lot smaller than the iPhone and Android competitors. I give RIM credit since it did bump up the resolution to 640-by-480 pixels, so you'll have a higher-quality screen, if not a larger one. It's not quite high-definition, but the images are clearer and less pixelated than older versions. The "liquid graphics" interface is very responsive to touch, so you won't see lag that often plagues BlackBerry phones. When you touch the screen, it responds quickly. How I feel about the display encapsulates my entire impression of the Touch -- yes, RIM improved on the flaws of older devices. Yes, it brought it closer to up-to-date. But there isn't a single feature that truly deserves praise, or stands out -- or makes me want to buy it.
RIM didn't even bother to add minor changes to the keyboard. If you love RIM's 35-button QWERTY pullout, here you go: the same exact thing again. Buttons are small, but raised and angled to help you send accurate messages. You have to hit the "alt" key to use punctuation, which I find annoying, but BlackBerry fans love their keyboards, so I can understand why RIM kept the design stagnant. At the same time, it could have made upgrades to the typing software. For instance, once you slide the keyboard out, you can't use it in landscape mode, even if you just want to turn it to look at a picture. That's a flaw that can easily be fixed, but RIM didn't bother. And if you want to use the onscreen keyboard, here's a warning: the predictive text -- and autocorrect -- is a joke. The only reason there aren't more "Damn You BlackBerry Autocorrect" screenshots -- like the popular iPhone page -- is RIM's falling market share and lack of appeal.
You won't be shocked to hear the camera, once again, clocks in at 5-megapixels -- but, at least, it takes solid photos. The LED flash helps illuminate low-light shots, and the 720p video recorder not bad, with clear audio and bright colors. The only black mark is the lack of a front-facing lens. So you won't be able to video chat. That's just too futuristic for a stuck-in-the-past company.
The lack of progress is annoying, and the Torch continues the trend with BlackBerry 7 -- it's the same old, same old with a new coat of paint. You'll get the same app-tray homepage on BB6, with small changes to icons, but the same cluttered layout. Any improvements are subtle: pages load a smidge faster, for instance, due to an updated HTML5 browser, which still doesn't support Flash. But for the most part, everything stayed the same. You can download popular apps like Facebook and Twitter, but the BlackBerry App Store looks like a remote, rusting Wyoming trading outpost.
I don't recommend the Torch, but it's not so bad that it doesn't have redeeming features. BlackBerry still delivers fantastic messaging options, and that includes BBM 6. You can send free texts to other BlackBerry devices, though it's less-appealing since Apple released iMessage and third-party apps like WhatsApp work across platforms. Still, e-mail remains top-notch, especially if you have corporate accounts. You can hook up with BlackBerry Enterprise Server and Microsoft Exchange, among others, and condense all of your messages into one intuitive inbox or keep them separate. RIM added a Facebook message client, the one improvement, and I found genuinely impressive. But even that comes with a caveat -- you have to download it from the app store, since it comes preloaded with an outdated version.
RIM did make impressive improvements to the hardware. The 1.2-gigahertz single-core chip is a massive step up from the old 624-megahertz processor. It also beefed up the RAM from 512- to 768-megabytes and storage from 4-gigabytes to a better 8-gigabytes, but if you plan to listen to music or download multimedia, pick up a microSD card, up to 32-gigabytes in size. On top of that, the 1,270 mAh powers you through the well through the day -- though not quite as long as old BlackBerry models, but better than most iPhone and Android devices.
Even though the hardware showed marked improvement over past models, it's not especially impressive compared to the glut of competitors. If you love apps, avoid the Torch and all BlackBerry devices. Also avoid it if you want to browse the Web or view movies and multimedia. I suppose if you loved the Torch 9800, you'll love the 9810, but regardless, the Torch doesn't live up to its name. It's not illuminating or fiery -- more like a wet blanket with a pretty good processor. ♦
Categories: Business | Messaging
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TFT (Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
February 12, 2013
Blackberry 9810 is my fav
I have the iPhone 3GS and the Blackberry Torch. Both phones are great, but I gravitate toward the BB as my sidekick.
Everything's in great shape except that they need to make the hardware deal with the hard wear. The iPhone is better on that front.Was this review helpful to you?
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