BlackBerry Torch First-Look Review

by Reads (15,420)

UPDATE: This preliminary review was written based on a relatively short time with the Streak. A much more in-depth review has now been published based on extensive testing:

BlackBerry Torch Review

 


The BlackBerry Torch is the most important BlackBerry in recent memory. As RIM continues to lose marketshare to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS, the Torch needs to be the saving grace to reinvigorate the brand. The question is — is the Torch enough, or is it too little too late?

 
BUILD & DESIGN

The Torch is a touchscreen slider with a full keyboard and optical trackpad, a design that Research in Motion has never used before.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 from AT&TThe styling is surprisingly lackluster and underwhelming — I was expecting it to be as drastic as the changes in each iPhone generation. Instead the Torch sports chrome with a hint of pewter finish on an otherwise black and dull body.

Screen
The Torch is a blatant attempt to compete in the consumer segment against the iPhone. The most obvious way to do this would have been to equip the device with a screen on par with the iPhone 4’s. Sadly, this is not the case; the screen isn’t bad — it’s among the better BlackBerry screens on the market, it just doesn’t live up to the standard set forth by its chief rival.

The Torch’s touchscreen is much more responsive than the one on the Storm, the first BlackBerry with a touchscreen —  although molasses is more responsive than the Storm’s screen. Gone are the days of the goofy clicking screen, clunky response and irrational behavior. The Torch’s screen is less responsive and less fluid than the iPhone’s but it isn’t bad after all.

Keyboard
The Storm’s design gives you two options for typing: an on-screen keyboard and a physical one

The layout and operation of the virtual keyboard could have been better. I find it quite difficult to type on for anything longer than say an email address, but this problem is quickly overcome by the physical keyboard.

The sliding keyboard, on the other hand, is excellent. There is enough room to hit the top row of keys comfortably without hitting the bottom of the sliding screen, which has been my top slider-complaint in the past. Typing speed on the physical keyboard is comparable to my Bold, and is much faster and more accurate than my iPhone.

It’s the combination of the physical keyboard, optical trackpad and touchscreen that makes the Torch shine. A practical example: it’s much easier to scroll through a long list of emails, accurately select one, copy a specific piece of it, write a response and send it. The entire process could be done from the touch screen alone, or using just the keyboard and trackpad, but in tandem they allow much faster operation — well done RIM.



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