One of the things that sets the BlackBerry Torch apart from the others is the new OS 6.0 operating system. This takes the Torch’s hardware advances and wraps them in a new user-friendly user interface.
Current BlackBerry users may find some of the menu layouts and options settings to be confusing. To overcome this issue OS 6.0 boasts a search bar that allows users to quickly find what they’re looking for. There are a slew of new sounds, and editing ring profiles is easier than ever.
Where the OS really shines is in its interfaces. Users can just as easily manipulate the phone via the keyboard and trackpad as they can the touch screen.
There are now several homescreens that users can swipe between (or toggle between with the trackpad). Tapping a screen will enlarge it and reveal all of its contents.
Wireless and Call Quality
RIM has fully equipped this device with what are now basically wireless necessities: 802.11 n/g/b, Bluetooth 2.1 with file transfer profiles, and support for GSM, EDGE, and 3G bands on AT&T in The States.
Another aspect of the iPhone RIM (happily) failed to replicate was the antenna issue plaguing its rival, the iPhone 4. Wireless signal quality was consistent in all environments tested. By now good call quality with balanced sound and plenty of oomph in the speakerphone department has become old hat for RIM. The Torch proudly upholds these qualities.
The new BlackBerry OS 6.0 web browser is a much faster, more feature laden, and better looking browser than any of its predecessors. With additions such as tabbed browsing, pinch-to-zoom, and faster queries, the browser is arguably the biggest improvement in this new operating system.
I found that although it still occasionally hung while trying to chew through difficult sites, it was a much rarer occurrence than in previous versions.
RIM claims its newest web browser is media rich, but it doesn’t really stand up to that claim.
RIM has included a dedicated Media homescreen, revamped the user interface on some of its classics like BrickBreaker, and has added a YouTube shortcut, but otherwise the entertainment options have remained largely unchanged.
With a 4 GB microSD card and headset included, the Torch is definitely easy to put media on and enjoy on the go. Despite this, this is still not a purpose-built media device, so power users will not want to ditch their iPod just yet.
The BlackBerry social feed is a new feature that integrates updates from several social media sources including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and several messaging clients including BBM. There’s an additional option to add RSS feeds which give users one display to see all the things they’d otherwise cruise multiple apps for. A nice addition, but its notification settings should be tweaked to allow fewer interruptions with what some may consider “unimportant” updates (sorry NewsFeed fans!)
With its push email filtering and message-flagging options, RIM is at the top of its game in the email department. The options are so plentiful that going back to email on the iPhone feels like going back to sending paper letters.
BlackBerry OS 6.0 maintains its over-the-air (OTA) contact synchronization via providers such as Google’s Gmail.
The standard DataViz DocumentsToGo suite for viewing Microsoft Office Documents is present, and handling file types in attachments is easier than in previous BlackBerrys.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and SMS/MMS messages enjoy a revamped user interface, with the former getting a few improved features such as chat-like windows, group messaging and easier attachment options. There’s also a group SMS option. Although these features are interesting, their practical application is fairly limited.
The Blackberry Torch has a 5.0 megapixel camera with flash and video. It doesn’t have a way to easily focus pictures, however, which is a shame, as pictures end up seeming like they were taken on a smartphone rather than a 5 megapixel camera.
Pictures are shown from the Torch and the iPhone 4 for illustrative purposes.
The Torch manages to get decent battery life out of a relatively small battery. With casual use I was able to get more than one day without having to recharge. As a primary phone however, you will want to charge it every night.
The battery charges via micro-USB located on the left hand side of the device that allows for comfortably charging while talking.