BlackBerry Torch 9800 First Impressions

By Team CrackBerry on 3 Aug 2010 12:09 pm
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Torch

Today at an exclusive AT&T/RIM event held in New York City we had the chance to play with the newest device in RIMs arsenal -- the BlackBerry Torch 9800. A mix of touchscreen and familiar QWERTY keyboard, this is the first slider BlackBerry and looks like it could possibly be the best BlackBerry to date. It will also be the first device to have BlackBerry 6, RIMs latest "revamped" OS. The Torch will be officially available for purchase on August 12th for $199 exclusively through AT&T (for now). While you'll have to wait a few weeks to get your hands on one, we had the chance to play around with it and see whats new both with the device itself and the all-new BlackBerry 6 operating system. Read on for our first impressions. 

BlackBerry Torch Specifications

  • Size (LxWxD) Closed: 4.4" x 2.4" x 0.57" / 111mm x 62mm x 14.6mm
  • Open: 5.8" x 2.4" x 0.57" / 148mm x 62mm x 14.6mm
  • Weight: 161.59 g / 5.7 oz (includes battery)
  • Operating System: BlackBerry 6
  • Memory: 512 MB internal flash memory/4GB built-in storage memory
  • Expandable Memory: 4GB microSD card included/Supports up to 32GB microSD card
  • Battery Life: GSM Talk Time: 5.5 hours; GSM Standby Time: 17 days/MTS Talk Time: 5.8 hours; UMTS Standby Time: 13 days
  • Physical keyboard: 35 key backlit QWERTY
  • Touchscreen keyboards: portrait/landscape full qwerty, condensed portrait
  • Display: High resolution touch screen - Half-VGA+ display (360 x 480 at 188ppi)/3.2" (diagonally measured)
  • Navigation - Capacitive traditional touch screen (no SurePress)/Optical trackpad
  • Camera: 5.0 MP camera, flash, auto focus, face detection, image stabilization, scene modes, 2X zoom, video recording
  • Video Camera: Normal Mode: 640 x 480 pixels
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g/n, support for UMA (carrier-dependent)
  • Bluetooth v2.1; Mono/Stereo Headset, Hands-free, Serial Port Profile, Bluetooth Stereo Audio (A2DP/AVCRP) and Bluetooth SIM Access Profile supported

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Hands On Video

Hardware

Picking up the device you just want to touch it. Not because it's a touchscreen, but because it just feels amazing. The construction on the device is as solid as it gets, and it just flows well and feels amazing in your hand. If you didn't know it was a slider, you really wouldn't even want to open it. The first things you notice are the screen (same size as the Storm) and the familiar BlackBerry buttons (Send, Menu, Back, End) as well as the optical trackpad. The right side the volume buttons, headset jack and convenience key, while the left side has only the microUSB port and a left-side convenience key is noticably absent. Sliding the device open reveals a full QWERTY keyboard buried stealthily below the screen. The sliding does not feel cheap by any means. As you glide it open you can feel it go where it needs to be and click into place. There is no in between or looseness in the process. Once open the Torch looks a bit odd having a big display over top of the full keyboard, but it doesn't feel top heavy or off balanced at all as we previously suspected it might. Sliding the device closed is just as easy, and once there it is not at all loose or prone to open. The back of the Torch resembles that of the Storm to an extent having the camera/flash on top and the battery door below. The battery door looks to be brushed aluminum and has a very solid feel, and again no looseness at all. Inside you'll find the battery, microSD card and SIM all strategically tucked away.

The keyboard holds the same basic design as both the Bold 9700 and Tour models, but it is surprisingly thin. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get going it is as smooth as a BlackBerry keyboard can be. Same goes for the on screen keyboard. In either potrait or landscape mode typing is easy and accurate. Change the device orientation with the keyboard open and there is almost no delay as it switches between portrait and landscape. At heart the Torch resembles the Bold 9700 only with double the internal memory (512MB).  The display shines bright and looks amazing at 480x360, but a higher resolution display would have really tricked this guy out. The camera gets an upgrade to 5MP which is a very welcome addition, and includes face detection, flash, multiple modes and much more. There is a new viewfinder and "scenes" that allow for different types of images, most notably the zero-lag sports mode. Video recording sadly isn't much improved (still no HD) and is slightly better than the bold 9700 at 640x480. Navigating around the homescreen was both amazing and fun with BlackBerry 6 (read more below) but it did take all we had not to press in and try to get the screen to click.

Software

Where oh where do we begin on this one? Ever since we saw the first promo video of BlackBerry 6 back at WES 2010 we've been chomping at the bit to play around with it -- and now, for the first time we have. A collective "wow" gets inserted here. It would take forever to sum up all the new features, but BlackBerry 6 is where it's at. The homescreen has five views -- All, Favorites, Frequent, Media and Downloads -- all of which serve their purpose and do it well. Dragging up the tray from the bottom of the screen reveals your icons, and you can then swipe left or right to change views. Scrolling through was quick and easy and there was really no noticable lag. Tapping an icon opens the application, alternatively you can use the optical trackpad to get around as well. 

Some great "shortcuts" have been added into BlackBerry 6 as well. All of the items in the banner are now clickable. Click the signal indicator to jump to Manage Connections, the clock to open the Clock app, message alerts to see your Messages and the profile icon to change your profile. Very cool.

Overall there is a really a new coat of paint all around. The application switcher has been updated allowing for easy flow between apps. It has a new look and is much improved which should make for much easier multitasking. Icon menus are much cleaner and things just look amazing. 

Save the best for last? Of course! How bout that WebKit browser??! Its what a browser on BlackBerry should be. No longer will we avoid using it (admittingly we have in the past). Tabs, speed, pinch to zoom and more - its all there. MUCH more on this to come so stay tuned.

Ultimately the Torch is where its at. We'll have loads of BB6 and Torch coverage in the coming days, so keep it here as things get rolling. 

Related BlackBerry Torch 9800 / BlackBerry 6 Review Links 

Other BlackBerry Torch 9800 and BlackBerry 6 Links

257 comments

dlmuse18

Seen on the internet sprint is testing a version of the torch a 9930 but it has failed some of the test.Hope it has a little more speed and sprint gets it since we can't get hold of the storm 3.Since verizon is getting the iphone hopefully RIM will open up more blackberries to sprint.Happy with my tour right now no problems with it will wait until sprint gets one of this amazing devices either the torch or storm 3

loweszoid

I love touchscreen and refuse to have another phone with trackballs and keyboards. Wonder if the TORCH will be plagued with the same issues as the STORM? To include screen lock, limited app storage, and most annoying-having to pull the battery multiple times daily to reboot! Been replaced twice in a year.

Mr. Gaddis

My Torch does every thing I need and more. I like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. My emails are sent with ease, documents are downloaded and zoomed in at the touch of the screen. Not really big on apps that do nothing, and BB gets that. I was a Sprint customer and had a Tour. Calls dropped routinely, 1 dropped call on this phone w/ ATT. Love the keyboard (of course) This is truly a Business phone. My company recently forced us to get our own mobile accounts and they would reimburse a set amount for the bill. (Before we all had the Tour w/ Sprint) Most chose to go with the IPhone w/ATT. I waited for the Torch. We used to see many emails sent from BB's but not so much after the switch to IPhone. I'm pretty sure its because people don't like typing on the touch screens when conducting business. Even with suretype its still a hassle and forces people back to there laptops. BB is on the go. Thats what its designed to do and Torch is designed to bring a little fun to BB. If you were to ask me, I'd tell you that this phone is a hit. I love the way it looks, the phone is fast (ALT LGLG and clearing the social networking and browser caches help), and I have no problem making and receiving calls when in the middle of an application. Kudos to BB for sticking to there way of doing things. Some things just don't matter when your talking about a phone. Sure watching a movie on a wide screen phone is nice, but who has time for that? The wow factors only take your attention away from what really matters.

bulacangirl

My carrier is Tmobile, i called the tech support and somehow i cant get the WAP browser and with that being said I can't get my internet working on the Torch. Can anyone help me? thank you.

embalmfirst1

Verizon carry this phone?

jessica627

I hate the torch!!! I was with SPrint and had the blackberry curve, I switched to att and got the torch thinking it was like a curve and a droid.
This phone is crap!!!! it feels like tin, it freezes, but the worst problem is that if you walk and talk like I do in NYC the touch screen consistently puts people on mute or speaker or hold!!! Also ATT consitently drops calls. I bought it also for the camera which is better then the curve only because it has a flash. The keyboard is the only part of this phone that reminds me of a blackberry, If you are in business or walk and talk on your phone or even sit in a cab or car that moves do not get this phone!!!
i also noticed compared to sprint curve this phone has limited rings and alarm. i spoke to the att rep and she said its a typical blackberry in terms of rings and alarm!! I hate this phone!! I stresss every day when i call someone because i always mute them by accident, and ATT drops calls in NYC more then any other carrier ( sprint and verizon)
every time i go down park avenue by 42nd ( i think its the helmsley building/grand central the call drops) . outside the midtown tunnel the call drops. i wish i still had sprint!! its also cheaper.

jessica627

I hate the torch!!! I was with SPrint and had the blackberry curve, I switched to att and got the torch thinking it was like a curve and a droid.
This phone is crap!!!! it feels like tin, it freezes, but the worst problem is that if you walk and talk like I do in NYC the touch screen consistently puts people on mute or speaker or hold!!! Also ATT consitently drops calls. I bought it also for the camera which is better then the curve only because it has a flash. The keyboard is the only part of this phone that reminds me of a blackberry, If you are in business or walk and talk on your phone or even sit in a cab or car that moves do not get this phone!!!
i also noticed compared to sprint curve this phone has limited rings and alarm. i spoke to the att rep and she said its a typical blackberry in terms of rings and alarm!! I hate this phone!! I stresss every day when i call someone because i always mute them by accident, and ATT drops calls in NYC more then any other carrier ( sprint and verizon)
every time i go down park avenue by 42nd ( i think its the helmsley building/grand central the call drops) . outside the midtown tunnel the call drops. i wish i still had sprint!! its also cheaper.

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