Wow. Talk about delayed. The BlackBerry Torch you see here was released in the middle of 2010. It’s only now I’m reviewing it. To be fair, I haven’t seen a lot of people using this phone as it arrived late in the Philippines. In fact, back at Mobile World Congress, RIM’s booth was all over the Torch and their tablet, the Playbook which is supposedly out globally this April.
When I left for Barcelona, I took two phones with me — my “main” HTC Mozart running WP7 and the BlackBerry Torch. In previous years, BlackBerry never failed me when it came to functionality + battery life. I had been introduced to BlackBerry way back in 2003 when SMART lent me a prototype. You see, back then, RIM (the Canadian parent company of BlackBerry) had a reputation to be all function no form whatsoever. See what I mean (Yuck diba?). It took many years before RIM grew out of this “engineering mindset” (where you make things that work well but don’t look good) and added a bit of style. This was when they showed off the very first BlackBerry Pearl (which I had somewhere c/o my retention plan but broke after 2 years due to extreme usage). Then, BlackBerry was on a roll. It soon became sexy to have a “BBM” and today, it seems like BlackBerry has gained cult status among several of the socialites who are prominent online.
But let us shelve that short history aside and move on to the crux: the BlackBerry Torch 9800. The Torch belongs to a new category of BlackBerry prodigal to the Bold and Curve line. The “Bold” line is usually the more high end version of the “Curve.” The Torch has three things that make it distinct:
a. it has both a touch screen and a keypad
b. it is a slider phone
c. it comes with the new BlackBerry OS 6.
If you own a BlackBerry and have not updated yet, I suggest you do. It’s free! Here’s how you do it.
I was pretty excited for a BlackBerry with both keypad and touch screen. Both input methods jive well together and this definitely isn’t a case of one being more dominant than the other. Trust me, the tandem works so well. It’s like — you use the keyboard to type and instead of pressuring the D pad, your fingers do the walking for selecting apps and pressing “OK.” Perhaps, if I were more meticulous I could say that the keypad is not for everyone as people who have used it have told me that the buttons are a tad small. But for the rest of us Asians with small fingers, yay!
BlackBerry OS 6 lists some neat new functions but to be honest the best feature is Universal Search. If you own a Macintosh, this is similar to the search button on the upper right hand side of your screen. On the BlackBerry you can search for anything on your phone. If nothing is found, OS 6 suggests built in search engines to use to search externally. Like below. That’s me searching for “hello” which obviously doesn’t exist on the phone so it opens up suggested search engines on YouTube and Google. So that’s one button for searching through your address book, files, SMS, etc. One. Button.
Social Feeds, the other new feature is essentially similar to what other platforms offer — a centralized way updating your status on Facebook and receiving notifications from your friends. So yeah you can essentially Facebook, Tweet, and check in to your hearts content without having to multi-task too much.
– has that “old BlackBerry magic” feel for response and battery life
– hands down the best BlackBerry yet
– first device to come with OS 6
– Universal Search feature is too important to ignore
– some may find the center of gravity to be awkward when the slider is pulled out
– bad location of the flimsy lock button
Unlike most manufacturers, BlackBerry doesn’t refresh their line as often. Even if they did, the Torch is honestly one of the mainstay devices to be remembered because inherently, there’s nothing wrong with it. Oh wait. There is: the lock button is found in a funny place — on the phone’s shoulder. Thing is, if this were another device, you wouldn’t have this problem but for some reason the button is extra sensitive. If you put the phone in your pocket with the top side down, your pocket MAY actually press this and wake the phone. See. Overall however, this device gets two thumbs up: you get to enjoy both the touch screen functions and a keypad (which honestly go well together — I actually use both input methods in tandem!) and you get the latest OS.
The only setback would be the price as I hear it’s available on schemes above plan PHP 3,000.00 — please ask your carrier for availability of the units.
Disclosure: RIM is a current advertiser in this blog (March – April 2011)