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Friday, October 29, 2010

Review - BlackBerry Torch 9800

Yes! It had to happen eventually.  I've been using BlackBerry's latest phone for the last few weeks, and thought it was time to put pen to paper (so to speak) and reveal all.

The Torch is the first phone, in the BlackBerry range, that runs their new operating system (BlackBerry 6).  This is a major update on the rest of the range, and boasts some rather wonderful changes.

Now, I'm quite fussy about my phones.  I used to be a heavy Nokia user; having got used to their user interface. However, when I made the change to BlackBerry, I wasn't disappointed.  The way in which they integrate the email services is, without a doubt, the best of breed.  Even the fanboys at Apple would agree with that one!!

So, what else is new.

This is the second BlackBerry to host a touch-screen, and whilst the Storm was ridiculed, this is a major step forward.  The resolution is still not as great as the iPhone, but to be honest, this isn't a toy, and I don't play many games on it, so it's absolutely perfect for a phone.
One of the selling points of BlackBerry is the inclusion of a full QWERTY keyboard, and the Torch has the best of both worlds; an on-screen keyboard and, courtesy of a slider mechanism, a full hard keyboard.  Some reviews have complained that it's not as good as others in the range (the Curve and Bold as an example) but I can confirm, having been a Curve user, the keyboard is just as good and user-friendly.  Not so sure about the touch-screen keys though - a little too small!!

I'm also wary of the slider - it feels very solid, but I just wonder how long it will last.  That's an observation, not a complaint.

The touch-screen itself is beautiful.  It's so intuitive to find your way around, and it's very responsive to key presses.  It will also orientate itself as landscape, when turned, so that videos and pictures, along with web pages, can be viewed more easily.

On the subject of web pages; this is one area where there is a big change.  BlackBerry have overhauled their browser, which makes surfing much more pleasurable.  Using the pinch technique favoured on other devices, it's easy to zoom in on pictures and pages.  Web pages will also reformat when 'double-tapped' making the text easier to read.

There are a number of tabs to scroll through; "Frequent", "Favourites", "Media", "Downloads" and "All".  By moving regularly used apps into the Frequent folder, they can be quickly accessed, without hunting through the menus.

And there are plenty of menus.  This phone can be customised in just about any which way you want; from ring tones, to wallpaper, to different types of alert; it's not difficult to do, just incredible how much you can make the phone your own.

BlackBerry have included the 'social' networks, Facebook and Twitter as part of the software release.  There's a dedicated icon called "Social Feeds", where all updates can be read in one place.  Personally, I'm not that keen, but I can see how it may be to some people's liking!  If you like your news on the move, there is also an RSS reader built-in, so you can catch up on what's important to you, wherever you are.

The camera has been given an upgrade too, with 5MP now available, autofocus and a range of different modes - much better than the 3.2Mp offered on other phones. There's also a video camera on board too.

The other consideration is battery life.  With all the included goodies, surely the battery won't last long.  Now, to be honest, I've been 'playing' quite a bit, so I've had to charge up each night, however, by customising some of the settings (like reducing the timeout till the screen fades) and switching off bluetooth and wi-fi when not needed, the battery lasts just as long as the Curve.

With BlackBerry Messenger, email integration, access via 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, a full media section (which displays album art if you have it) and all the regular features you'd expect, this is a powerful phone, which does exactly what it says on the tin.

Below is the preview video that BlackBerry released, to whet our appetites; there's no need to wait any longer!!



So, in summary; is it worth it?  Was the hype justified?  Are other reviews fair?

This phone has been compared to the iPhone in so many ways, and that, in my view, is not right.  They are two different devices, aimed at different people.  So, yes, it's worth it (even a better contract deal, so the monthly payments are less!), they hype is totally justified - it's a cracking phone.

Do you have the new Torch, or other BlackBerry - what's your favourite app?
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