Along with the new 99xx, RIM recently released an updated Torch, and a rebranded Storm – the Torch 9850. Is RIM’s third attempt at an all touch device a winner? Read on to hear our thoughts!
The Torch 9850 is RIM’s third all touch BlackBerry, following the original Storm, and the Storm 2. Where the two previous Storms had a special “clicky” screen, which RIM dubbed SurePress, the newest Storm, err, Torch features a standard capacitive display. The screen is a gorgeous one with a resolution of 800×480 at 3.7”. It’s very bright and very vivid – as are most BlackBerry screens nowadays. The entire device has a very nice look to it, save for the comically large physical buttons right below the display. We really wish RIM had forgone shipping the device with physical buttons – they really do ruin the “waterfall” look RIM was going for.
As with the other BlackBerry OS 7 devices, the Torch 9850 features a 1.2GHz Qualcomm CPU, 768MB RAM, and 4GB of built-in storage. A 16GB microSD card is also included. The Torch is also a worldphone, packing in the standard CDMA radio along with a GSM radio. Keep in mind that you won’t get 3G on AT&T here in the US with an unlocked unit (you could grab a 9860 from our polar bear riding friends up North). The Torch was fast and smooth, as with all of the other OS 7 devices. The speed and screen were especially nice when using the newly revamped, and finally competitive, web browser.
Overall we found the Torch to be a great looking device, but the physical buttons below the display really bothered us. Maybe next go round RIM will go entirely touch.
As with all of RIM’s other new devices, the Torch features OS 7, which was originally billed as a refresh of OS 6 – and that’s exactly what it is. The new browser is very nice, as is the overall look and speed of the OS. But as we’ve said previously, the spinning clock of misfortune is still showing up far, far too often (read: it should never show up), and managing apps is still a nightmare.
The Torch 9850 and OS 7 also feature RIM’s third attempt at a usable software keyboard. Thankfully RIM is making progress and we were able to type on the Torch without too much frustration. Unfortunately, the experience is still not on par with the likes of Android, Windows Phone 7, or iOS. They keys are very small, the prediction software is very poor, and there’s no feedback whatsoever when pressing keys (haptic or sound).
The Torch 9850 features a relatively small 1230mAh battery. Like the other OS 7 devices, it’s clear a very fast processor and new OS is taking a toll on the legendary BlackBerry battery life. While we could easily power through a day with the Torch, getting through a second day would be close to impossible. We imagine that most everyone that would classify themselves as a BlackBerry power user should grab a backup battery no matter which OS 7 device they choose.
Call quality, signal, etc.
As with any Verizon device (and Sprint, in this case), calls were crisp and clear. We did not have any calls drop, even in low signal areas. Data speeds were adequate, but we stuck to WiFi most of the time. Signal level was iffy at times, with the Torch often dropping down numerous bars while being held – but this isn’t anything new for us, as we’ve seen all of the BlackBerrys in recent history do the same.
RIM’s third attempt at an all touch device is a reasonably good one. The Torch 9850 is good looking (except for those pesky hardware buttons below the display), light, fast, and has a gorgeous display. Unfortunately, the OS 7 keyboard is still quite poor, and the overall OS is still far behind the competition. At the end of the day, Storm diehards will find the 9850 to be a reasonably sound upgrade. But for those on other platforms, we can’t think of any reason why the Torch 9850 would tempt you to become a BlackBerry user.