BlackBerry Torch Review's Review of the BlackBerry Torch 9800 on AT&T - the first BlackBerry with a touchscreen, slide keyboard, and BlackBerry 6!'s BlackBerry Torch 9800 Review!
By Kevin Michaluk on 4 Aug 2010 09:00 pm EDT

RIM's all new BlackBerry Torch 9800 for AT&T capitalizes on BlackBerry's historical strength by including awesome keyboard and killer email while featuring a plethora of new features including a proper touchscreen, upgraded camera and the highly anticipated BlackBerry 6 operating system. It will be available August 12th for $199.99 after contract.

You thought sliders were played out? Well think again. Research In Motion may not have invented the slider, but by working hand in hand with AT&T on its development since the project took root in late 2008, they have come very close to perfecting it. With some major upgrades and many subtle refinements throughout the user interface and under the hood, BB6 plays catch up in the smartphone wars. With the Torch, it now delivers to BlackBerry users a modern feeling experience that takes messaging and social media to a new level while placing much more emphasis on traditional media (photos, music, video, podcasts, etc.). The best news of all is the new WebKit rendering engine, which is the same web browser technology behind the iPhone, Android, webOS, and Nokia phones. You can finally enjoy browsing webpages on a BlackBerry.

There's a lot to cover in this review, so let's get to it!

Table of Contents


BlackBerry Torch 9800 Overview

BlackBerry Torch 9800

A whole bunch of BlackBerry newness is making its debut on the Torch 9800, which for the moment really sets it apart from other BlackBerry devices on the market. It's the first and only slider BlackBerry. It's the first BlackBerry to feature a 'proper' touchscreen (no SurePress clicking on the screen required). It's the first BlackBerry to get the bump up to a 5 megapixel camera. It's also the first BlackBerry device model to have BlackBerry 6, which ushers in a bunch of new features, including the new WebKit rendering engine.

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BlackBerry Torch 9800 and BlackBerry 6 Hands-On Videos!

Below are the key specifications for the BlackBerry Torch 9800. For the full breakdown, visit our BlackBerry Torch 9800 Features and Specifications page.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Key Features and Tech Specs

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
CPU Speed 624 MHz
Memory - 512 MB internal flash memory
- 4GB built-in storage memory
Expandable Memory - 4GB microSD card included
- Supports up to 32GB microSD card
Battery 1270 mAhr removable/rechargeable cryptographic lithium cell
Display High resolution touch screen
Half-VGA+ display (360 x 480 at 188ppi)
3.2" (diagonally measured)
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
MMS Mode: 176 x 144 pixels
GPS Integrated GPS with A-GPS (assisted GPS) ready
WiFi Wi-Fi Band: 802.11b/g/n, support for UMA (carrier-dependent)
Bluetooth Bluetooth v2.1; Mono/Stereo Headset, Hands-free, Serial Port Profile, Bluetooth Stereo Audio (A2DP/AVCRP) and Bluetooth SIM Access Profile supported
Headset 3.5mm stereo headset capable
Network SKU1 UMTS: 2100/1900/850/800 MHz (Bands 1,2,5/6)
SKU2 UMTS: 2100/1900/900 MHz (Bands 1,2,8)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS networks

While there is a lot that is new to the BlackBerry Torch 9800 hardware, it actually is somewhat evolutionary when it comes to each individual component: the chipset is the same as the BlackBerry Pearl 3G, the display is the same as the one found on the Storms, and the overall design is clearly in line with the rest of the BlackBerry lineup.

With BlackBerry 6, however, the overall experience is very new. Watch the BlackBerry 6 video below for a hands-on look and for a full details on everything new in BlackBerry 6, be sure to check out our BlackBerry 6 Review.


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Why would AT&T want a BlackBerry slider?

In the world of smartphones, it is easy to think that the manufacturers make all of the decisions in developing a new device, and once built they start working with the carriers to bring it to market. In many cases that's true, but in other situations the carrier will tell the manufacturer what they want and work together on turning that idea into reality. Such was the case with AT&T and the BlackBerry Torch 9800.

AT&T told me that they conducted massive amounts of market research and identified a large group of people who simply need to have a physical keyboard.

When I was told this the first thought that popped into my head was Why?. After all, AT&T is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States, which appeals to a large user base and obviously sells well. Wouldn't AT&T's release of a 'SliderBerry' be targeting the same people the iPhone is already appealing to? So why would AT&T want to work with RIM to build the Torch 9800? AT&T told me that they conducted massive amounts of market research and identified a large group of people who simply need to have a physical keyboard. Furthermore, for these users, the killer app on their phone is people - they are are the CrackBerry addicts who are constantly on their device, communicating, socializing and sharing.

AT&T BlackBerry Torch Boxes

Thus, the ask from AT&T to RIM was to find a way to marry their best-in-industry keyboard to a larger touchscreen display. Block models determined the vertical slider to be the form factor to go with due to its efficiency, a decision I'm told was made in 2008, prior to Palm unveiling the Pre at CES 2009 (just in case you were thinking they borrowed the design from them!). Marrying this form factor to the next generation messaging, media, web browser and overall more modern user experience offered by BlackBerry 6, and AT&T is confident they will have a winner on their hands with the BlackBerry Torch 9800 (view AT&T Press Announcement).

What's in a name: why Codename 'talledaga?' Why 'Torch?'

Regular readers of will know that the BlackBerry Torch 9800 has gone through quite a name game these past few months. The pre-release codename for the device was 'talledaga' or Mr. T for short. No, RIM didn't go with this codename because they liked Will Ferrell or the A-Team. This device was built for AT&T. Who's the president of AT&T Mobility? Mr. Ralph de la Vega. It wouldn't be much of a codename if they called it de la Vega so they rhymed it with the closest cool-sounding word they could think of, talledaga. Yup, it's Ralph's phone. Pretty clever way to pay homage don't you think?

While talledaga was a cool codename, the actual product name game of this device has been a big question mark for months now. When the slider photos first emerged, another website first labeled them as the Storm3. We quickly followed up saying it's definitely not a Storm3 but maybe could be part of the Bold family given the design of the keyboard. More recently we broke the news to the world that a new name was being considered for the slider, and that name was Torch. Lo and behold we were right on that one and RIM has introduced the Torch brand for their slider devices to join the ranks of the Pearl, Curve, Storm and Bold (Tour family now consolidated into Bold). You know what that means right? Let the Torch2 rumors begin!!

The story behind the Torch name is pretty simple. The word 'Torch' entered everyday BlackBerry vocabulary back in August last year when Research in Motion acquired Torch Mobile, a company that developed the WebKit-based Iris browser. As part of RIM's global organization, Torch was tasked with getting WebKit rendering into the BlackBerry platform. Names are often tossed around RIM HQ, and at some point the word torch went up the chain as being potentially suitable for a product name. The brand teams and upper level guys liked the connotations of torch as a product name and the rest is history!

Which carriers are getting the BlackBerry Torch 9800?

While the story above really shows that this phone was built for AT&T and will launch exclusively with AT&T in the United States, we will also see the device roll out internationally on other GSM carriers. Shortly following AT&T's press release regarding the Torch, we saw Rogers, Telus, Bell and Virgin all confirm they will soon have the Torch available, so it's only a matter of time before a Torch is available on a carrier near you. And if waiting isn't your style, there is always the option to purchase it outright from AT&T and unlock the device to run on your carrier. As for other US carriers getting the Torch 9800, that isn't looking likely right now. However, the Torch is a brand family name, so I'd think at some point in the future we will see Torch family devices hit the other carriers in the USA - just not the 9800 specifically. Though you never know - AT&T is still the only carrier in the USA to have the iPhone, so maybe they've locked down the Torch for the long haul as well - at this point we're not certain.

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BlackBerry Torch 9800 Hardware Impressions

A 'Portrait Slider' that fits

BlackBerry Torch 9800 BlackBerry Torch 9800

When the first prerelease photos of a sliderberry surfaced in our forums back in early March, I have to admit I was a little skeptical and not all that excited - mainly because I have not liked slider devices in the past. Some, like the HTC Tilt or the Motorola Droid had wide keyboards that felt unwieldy; others, like the Palm Pre were too small and felt cramped (and couldn't make it past 4pm on a battery).

With all those slider disappointments behind me, a week spent on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 has me sold on RIM's implementation of the vertical sliding form factor. With the Torch, RIM 'right-sized' the components for an expansive experience in a relatively tight form factor.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 BlackBerry Torch 9800

The combination of touchscreen, optical trackpad and full qwerty keyboard simply fit the BlackBerry experience more than I would have ever imagined. I've owned and used every BlackBerry device model for the past five years (since the BlackBerry 7290), and I can easily say the Torch is my favorite to date. Even the Bold 9700 feels old-hat by comparison.

The combination of touchscreen, optical trackpad and full qwerty keyboard simply fit the BlackBerry experience more than I would have ever imagined.

The Torch's physical keyboard and trackpad maintain the one-handed ease of use that traditional BlackBerry users value but adds a large touchscreen display that makes the experience more engaging and intuitive all around. Not only can you see more on the display, but you can tap pretty much everything on the touchscreen. You don't have to think about how to use or hold the Torch. You just use it. The device really does feel natural to use whether the slider is open or closed, portrait or landscape. Even the software touch keyboard works well. Adding to the overall experience is another characteristic that is a bit of a novelty to BlackBerry devices - it's fun to use! It could be a case of simple things pleasing simple minds, but I literally could sit there all day just sliding the Torch open and closed.

As you can tell, I really am sold on the BlackBerry Torch. It is the best BlackBerry to date. But that doesn't mean it is perfect. While I believe both longtime and new BlackBerry owners who buy the Torch 9800 will be very satisfied with the overall experience, there are a few areas on both the hardware and software side where RIM has left room for improvement.

Appearance, Form Factor and Build Quality

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo

It's no easy task to describe the appearance of the BlackBerry Torch 9800. I wouldn't call the design industrial nor would I call it sleek or contemporary or even sexy. That's not to say it looks old or ugly, because it doesn't. The best single word I could come up with to describe the Torch 9800 is unpretentious. Sitting on the desk with the slider closed or slid open in the hand, the Torch exudes a sort of understated vibe. It's not trying to grab your attention via unnecessary bling, it's just there to be a reliable phone and get the job done. Though if the Torch becomes available in more colors like white or red I'm sure it will turn some heads.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo

That said, the Torch still maintains its BlackBerry DNA. It's easily recognizable as a BlackBerry and when you pick it up for the first time it still feels like a BlackBerry, albeit a slightly porky one. At 5.7 ounces according to RIM (which I confirmed on my crack scale with battery, sim and microSD inserted), the Torch is definitely on the heavier end of the smartphone scale. Comparatively, my Bold 9700 weighed in at a lean 4.2oz, the iPhone 4 in the middle at 5.1oz and the Evo 4G at 6oz. The physical footprint of the Torch is similar to that of the Bold 9650, which makes it a little wider than the Bold 9700. While the additional weight compared to my Bold 9700 took a little getting used to, I really appreciate it. This density gives the Torch 9800 the feeling of a quality tool rather than a phone, making the Torch name even more apt.

5.7 ounces places the Torch on the heavier end of the smartphone scale Research In Motion found the sweet spot with the Torch 9800's balance

Spending time using the Torch begins to reveal the design details RIM paid close attention to in making this a polished consumer device. I absolutely love the horizontally-ribbed battery door cover which feels just perfect in the hand and reinforces that quality tool feeling. They nailed the action of the slider mechanism and I appreciate ample room was left above the top row of keys on the Bold-like physical keyboard so your fingers don't jam into display. An issue that can plague phones with a slider form factor is a feeling of top heaviness when the slider is open. RIM took care to ensure this isn't an issue on the Torch and the device does in fact feel very well balanced when open in everyday use. The only occassion where I've noticed device balance can play an issue is when lying in bed with arms stretched to the ceiling. When typing on the physical keyboard in this position the inverse balance point now causes the top of the device to want to fall into you, an issue easily rectified by simply holding onto Torch a little more tightly or better yet, closing the slider and typing on the touchscreen keyboard.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo

One noticeable omission from the Torch's design is the left side convenience key typically present on BlackBerry devices. I wasn't sure if this was simply a case of running out of room or if RIM wanted to simplify the device experience so I inquired and was told it in fact was omitted from the Torch to streamline the user experience. With the right side convenience key used as the camera shutter button, I can see how having one less convenience key would be a benefit. Though everytime I pick up the Torch to use twitter, I find myself mindlessly tapping the left side of the phone, only then realizing there's no convenience key to launch my twitter client. Pretty funny. Suffice to say it makes the left side of the phone very clean (aka. empty), with the exception being the microUSB port. The right side of the phone features the standard 3.5mm headset jack, convenience and volume keys.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo

Below the fixed capacitive touchscreen on the front of the device is the standard BlackBerry navigation area, featuring the optical trackpad and physical buttons for the send / end / menu / back functions. Accompanying these very function-related design decisions it's interesting to note some of the aesthetic design choices RIM made as well, such as a slightly smaller round LED notification light and the brushed steel on the back side of the display that is mounted in a vertical direction to match the sliding motion of display (I'm really happy they didn't stick a mirror here!). One slight annoyance is the hidden lock button on the top of the phone. With the slider open, depending where you place your hands, you may find yourself accidentally hitting it. Likewise, when carrying the device around it's apparently a bit easier to unlock the device - on one occassion I found I sent a random BBM message (full of dafklds#$@#adfdf).

Your previous device history will play the deciding factor in just how small or big the BlackBerry Torch 9800 feels to you. It's not quite as comfortable in the pocket as the Bold 9700 or Pearl 3G (which is so small you lose track of where you're keeping it), but after carrying the 9800 around quite a bit -- including a couple of nights out on the town wearing my ...errr... tighter jeans -- I can honestly say I haven't found it uncomfortable. AT&T doesn't include any sort of pouch or holster for the Torch in the box, so they're leaving it up to the owner to either go naked with it or fully choose how to best accessorize it.

Touchscreen Display

So long SurePress!! I'm happy to say BlackBerry finally has a proper touchscreen experience. I know some of the BlackBerry Storm and Storm2 owners out there are actually quite passionate about the clickable touchscreen found on their devices and conceptually there are some arguments for it (see Storm review and Storm 2 review). However, for RIM to continue to grow in the smartphone market and appeal to a wider audience used to touchscreens that don't click, SurePress had to go.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo

As it was explained to us by RIM, the Storm's 4.7 and 5.0 operating system had a user interface paradigm that required a click, akin to the input provided by a trackwheel or trackball. So to my mind the existence of SurePress was more of a bandaid solution for RIM to push a touchscreen out the door (by Verizon's request as the now-ancient story goes) rather than be the intended longterm approach to how RIM builds touchscreens.

For RIM to continue to grow in the smartphone market and appeal to a wider audience used to touchscreens that don't click, SurePress had to go.

RIM has obviously overcome the touchscreen hurdle with BlackBerry 6 and the Torch delivers a very smooth user experience, including support for gestures including tap, pinch, slide, touch and hold and double tap. The swiping and flick scrolling is predictable and the tapping experience is natural - I haven't found myself opening apps or links by accident. As with the BlackBerry Storm, you can dial in the feel of the touchscreen by adjusting the Tap Interval, Hover Period and Swipe Sensitivity via the Options menu if you find the default settings don't quite cut it. For the most part the touchscreen experience gives off that prized feeling of sliding a piece of paper under a sheet of glass, where the amount of movement on the display is correlated 1:1 with your finger's movement. Odd to me though, I have noticed some inconsistencies with this in-sync scroll feeling in different parts of the OS, especially within the email client. When scrolling really slowly up or down an email within the main inbox view, the message will track in sync with your finger's movement (the message stays under your finger). But as soon as you start to move your finger faster on the screen, it outpaces the message. I wouldn't call it lag, because there's no sign of lag, it just seems like the ratio of screen movement to finger movement is much less, which makes the scrolling here feel heavy. Conversely, the new Social Feeds app feels incredibly light, where you can move your finger as fast as you want on the display and that 1:1 finger movement to display movement it maintained. It could be the case here that RIM hasn't yet fully optimized every application within the OS as much as they'd like to for the touch input, or maybe there's something else going on here (different teams working on different apps). It's a minor thing and it took me days to notice it, but it is a little odd. If there is something out of whack here, I'm sure it's nothing a little OS update wouldn't fix.

The accelerometer is accurate and responsive, allowing the device to switch quickly between portait and landscape use. Take note though, when the keyboard is slid out, the display locks into portrait mode. I think RIM made the right decision here - when the keyboard is out you're typically in communicating mode which means you'll want the display to be in portrait, so having it locked in place prevents any accidental screen rotations from occuring. There is the occasional situation where having the keyboard slid out and having the screen in landscape can be handy. For example, when browsing the web I have now found myself a couple of times wishing I could browse in landscape with the keyboard extended to take advantage of the good 'ole T and B shorcuts (which is now an option that can be enabled/disabled within the web browser options).

To keep the weight of the device as low as possible, the Torch's display rests in a magnesium tray. This tray also adds some structural strength to the device. When it came to designing the slider action for the 9800, the engineering team spent a lot of time investigating the best in class mechanisms for this type of use. Believe it or not, their inspiration for the targeted feel of the sliding action was actually kitchen drawers - those high end drawers that have that super sweet self-closing feel to them. As for tying the display back to the main CPU board, RIM used flexible circuits akin to that used in a high-end DSLR camera. The final design for the mechanism is based on proven principles and we're told the slider is graded for at least 150,000 cycles. Suffice to say, the slider should even outlast the crackiest of CrackBerry Addict's abuse over the life of a contract. To see it in action, watch the video below:


While I'm overall very pleased with the performance of the touchscreen experience on the 9800, the display itself is an area where I'd like to see RIM take things to the next level. While the 480 x 360 screen resolution (in landscape) is ok for the majority of tasks you'll perform on the Torch, when browsing the web you get the sense that extra pixels would further improve the already-improved experience. The iPhone 4's 960 by 640 definitely puts the Torch's pixel count to shame, as do some of the high end Android devices.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Smudges. They happen. If you've never owned a touchscreen phone before it'll take a bit of getting used to. Luckily you only notice them when the display is turned off and a cleaning cloth is included in the box so you can polish the display and device to a shine whenever you want.


BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo

Who buys a slider? Somebody that wants to type on a physical keyboard instead of a piece of glass!! The great news for the BlackBerry Torch owner is that in addition to the physical keyboard kicking ass, the touchscreen software keyboards are actually pretty easy to type on too.

The sliding form factor of the Torch demanded RIM to design their thinnest keyboard to date. While it looks like the same keyboard found on the Bold 9700/9650 or Tour, the 9800's keyboard has a noticeably different feel to it. To maintain strength while being extremely thin, the keyboard is attached to a piece of stainless steel. The design results in tighter feeling keys that have less movement to them in all directions. There's no real left / right / up / down wiggle to the keys and the press motion is a bit shorter and very crisp (not a sloppy keyboard at all). It almost feels more akin to Curve keyboards than Bold keyboards, in that there is a definite "clack" to the keys as you type on it. I personally love the keyboard on the Torch though I'm certain we'll hear mixed reactions on it in the forums once the device is publicly available. The crisp clack of the keys provides a feel and audible rhythm that guarantees your typing will be fast and accurate.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo
The crisp clack of the keys provides a feel and audible rhythm that guarantees your typing will be fast and accurate.

While the benefits of a physical keyboard over a touchscreen are apparent to anybody who has ever used a BlackBerry with a full qwerty before, there are actually a couple of benefits to having a proper touchscreen keyboard one could easily overlook. Touchscreen keyboards are both effortless to type (in the literal sense - it takes no physical effort to type on one) and quiet to type on. The Torch's vertical sliding form factor provides the best of both worlds. When your fingers get tired of pounding out messages or you're lying in bed next to your significant other and need to keep it quiet, you can fully turn to the touchscreen keyboards.

In practice, I've found the touchscreen keyboards (both portrait and landscape) to be quite good. In portrait mode, I find it easiest to hold the Torch in my left hand and tap out the letters with my right hand, while the landscape keyboard accommodates two thumb typing very well. Having used the iPhone's software keyboards and played around with some Android devices, I'd put the software keyboards a bit behind that of the iPhone's and in the mix with some of the better Android 2.0 keyboards. What's that mean for the would be Torch owner? It means the keyboards are good enough that you'll be able to become very proficient with them, but when really in hardcore messaging mode will want to be sure you're sliding out the physical keyboard.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the BlackBerry Torch's keyboards.

Chipset / Processor

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Tear Down

Under the battery door cover, the Torch 9800 is built upon the same Marvell chipset as in the Pearl 3G, with the processor clocking in at 624MHz. I know some of the smartphone fanboys out there reading this are going to be saying "No 1GHz Snapdragon processor? #Fail!" and the response to that is simply maybe one day, but not yet. The RIM perspective on this is that it's not about MHz but rather it's about user experience. To power an Android device smoothly, you are required to have a fast processor - the OS is demanding. 624MHz in an Android device means you're in for a really sluggish experience. That same CPU speed in the Torch delivers a mainly snappy BlackBerry 6 user experience. More MHz typically means worse battery life, so from the perspective of a mobile user the ideal situation is really to have the minimum amount of MHz that deliver a satisfactory level of performance. Is 624MHz in the Torch enough?  My honest answer is officially yes no maybe. In using the device so far, the only time where I've really felt a faster processor is necessary is in re-rendering photos after you zoom in on them - it takes a few moments longer than you'd think should be necessary for those pixels to smooth out. I also think the new web browser, which is much faster, would be even faster if there were more MHz under the hood. These situations are pretty specific, so I haven't been feeling that the Torch 9800 is slow. But at the same time I realize I'm not the average consumer - I tend to run my device fairly clean, closing apps I don't use and never running too many data pulling apps in the background at once (the habit of a long-time BlackBerry user). BlackBerry 6 is evolutionary, which while it's greatly been optimized means it's still susceptible to things that can happen in OS 5. In other words, if you run every app and never close them, you can slow things down a bit. That all said, I do think we'll see RIM up the MHz down the road as the OS and apps being run by it demand it and they continue to progress through their hardware upgrade cycle.

While I'll defend the speed of the Torch's processor to a point, what I find completely unacceptable (it's sort of embarrassing quite frankly) is the lack of Open GL support for 3D graphics. The Marvell chipset used in the Bold 9000/9700/ and upgraded for the Pearl 3G and now used in the Torch 9800 still lacks a dedicated GPU and therefore doesn't get the Open GL support found in the latest CDMA BlackBerry devices which utilize a Qualcomm chipset, including the Bold 9650, Storm2 and Curve 8530. In layman's terms, this means that the Torch cannot support 3D games and other graphically intensive apps. This is totally bogus considering the Torch has a big display that makes you want to experience 3D apps and games.

Is this enough to make somebody thinking about the Torch not buy it? In all honesty it should be, but really is not. To date we haven't seen that many BlackBerry apps or games take advantage of 3D graphics. With the Torch, you will be missing out on a few of the 3D games available on other BlackBerry devices like PBA Bowling 3D, Need for Speed Shift 3D, and Tank Recon 3D, but it's not as if there is (yet) a massive library of 3D games available. Once there are more BlackBerry devices with 3D graphics capabilities in the market I'm sure we'll see developers ramping up their efforts here.

Yes, that's a 'chicken or egg' excuse, but it's the truth. I do get the feeling RIM is working on their next generation of GSM chipsets though, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a Torch refresh hit sooner rather than later that brings more MHz and along with it a dedicated GPU.

A redeeming benefit of the current GSM chipset is that RIM invested a lot of time and effort into writing their own 3G stack (radio code), which gives them very granular control and delivers great worldwide connectivity - ever notice when the plane lands and everybody turns their cells back on its typically the BlackBerry users who are on the network and getting their messages first? Coupled with this, RIM puts a lot of work into their battery management, which as most GSM BlackBerry owners will attest to results in solid battery life as compared to other smartphones (more on battery life below).


BlackBerry Torch 9800 Memory

Like the BlackBerry Bold 9650, the Torch 9800 gets a bump in internal device memory, from the 256MB found in the previous generation of devices up to 512MB. In addition to providing more room for app space, the 512MB helps smoothly power BlackBerry 6.

RIM has also included 4GB of built-in (non-removable) storage space for files such as pictures, music, movies and podcasts and a 4GB microSD card is included bringing the storage space out of the box up to 8GB (hence when you plug the Torch 9800 into a computer two drives pop up). The external memory is expandable so if you need more memory you can swap out the 4GB card for a larger one, right up to 32GB. There's no limitation from BlackBerry on this one, so if they ever make a bigger than 32GB card in the microSD format it will work on the Torch. The microSD card can be found under the battery door and is hot swappable - you can easily insert and remove the memory card while the device is running (no need to remove the battery first).

Battery Life

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photo

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 gets its power from the new F-S1 1270mAh battery. [note: I've noticed some tech sheets have also labeled this as 1300mAh, but the battery itself says 1270mAh right on it. Apparently it is a 1300mAh rated battery, but they put 1270mAh on it as the lowest side of the tolerance + or - scale). The F-S1 is smaller than the M-S1 1550mAh battery found in the Bold 9700 and D-X1 1400mAh battery found in devices like the Bold 9650 and Storm2. RIM rates the Torch's battery life at the following:

  • GSM Talk Time: 5.5 hours, GSM Standby: 17 day
  • UMTS Talk Time: 5.8 hours, UMTS Standby: 13 days
  • Audio Playback: 29.8 hrs
  • Video Playback: 6 hrs
In short, it gets me through a full day of fairly heavy usage.

I was a little concerned the F-S1 wouldn't have the juice to power the Torch through the day, but after a week of decent use and fairly long days with the phone off the charger at 6am and back on after midnight (with a new device like this and in review mode I'm using it more than I typically would) I've only hit the red a couple times. In short, it gets me through a full day of fairly heavy usage and so I don't think it will be a problem for most people under normal conditions. It's not an all-weekend phone like the Bold 9700, but it still outclasses many comparable touchscreen Android or webOS devices by a country mile. It seems in BlackBerry 6 RIM has reduced the low battery warning a bit - I noticed now it seems to kick in just at 10% battery and go straight to the red zone vs. kicking in sooner with yellow then red.I **think** this is the case anyways - I honestly wasn't paying attention to this and just noticed it the other night. Either way, if this is the case it tricks you into thinking your battery life is longer, by going a longer time before entering the low battery zone. Definitely sneaky.

As always for the heavy users out there you can remove the battery from the BlackBerry Torch, so keeping a charged spare handy is a viable option.

Phone Quality and Signal Attenuation

No worries, it's all good!! Normally when I review a new BlackBerry I do so from my home in Canada with the device running on the Rogers network, which tends to have awesome coverage and yields solid voice quality. For the AT&T BlackBerry Torch 9800, however, I wanted to make sure I used the device on its native network, so I spent the week in Florida out of our Miami offices.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Phone App
ps. 1800CRKBRRY isn't a real # - just makes for a nice screen cap!

I have been really pleased with the phone quality on the Torch 9800 so far. When I called my parents from the 9800 the first words out of mom's mouth were where are you? She said it sounded like I was in the room next to her I sounded so clear rather than 2200 miles away. I've duplicated that experience many times now on the Torch. Voice quality is equally good whether the slider is open or closed - opening or closing it during a call makes no difference to the caller on the other end of the line from my testing. Over three dozen calls and 4 hours spent talking later, the experience has been nothing but good. I've had zero dropped calls on the Torch 9800 in Miami. I checked in with local residents, including SPE's Dieter Bohn, to see if that was the norm in Miami for AT&T. Dieter relayed that his AT&T Palm Pre never drops calls while his iPhone 4 drops calls on occasion.

Noise cancellation on the Torch appears to work well for the most part - callers on the other end of the line reported I was coming in loud and clear even while walking outside with Tropical Storm Bonnie's high winds skirting the Florida Keys. Though when talking to Miss CrackBerry from the Miami airport one evening she was hearing a lot of background noise (airport intercom, people running by in flipflops, etc.). I'd still vote it at least as good as any other BlackBerry device model. As is typical of a BlackBerry, the speakerphone quality on the Torch is also satisfactory.

As you might expect of a device with a sliding form factor, you can set to have the Torch answer phone calls upon sliding out the keyboard and end calls by sliding it closed. The default setting is for sliding action to have no impact on phone calls, which is how I personally left it set after experimenting with both options. Related to the phone, now is a good time to point out the vibrator motor on the Torch 9800 seems to be a winner. It fits into that sweet spot of yielding a firm vibration but still being relatively quiet.

BlackBerry Torch 9800's antenna attaches to the main border like a bumper BlackBerry Torch 9800 antenna attached to main board

It makes me angry that I have to even mention signal attenuation in this review, but now that it's the hot topic of the phone world no review will be complete without addressing the topic (thanks El Jobso for making more work for us bloggers!). The Torch's antenna design is sound. As shown in the photo, you can think of it as a bumper that attaches to the board which takes up quite a bit of real estate within the bottom portion of the phone. As I've found with other BlackBerry device models I have tested recently, the BlackBerry radios are pretty resilient. If you're in an area of very strong signal strength, it's difficult to make the the signal drop at all (even when you're cupping your hands over the entire device). In areas where the coverage is getting a little weaker but you still have full bars, you can cause the signal to drop temporarily, but after a few seconds the radios kick into overdrive and the bars climb back up.

Of course, if go high enough up the building or deep enough in the basement or far enough away from a cell tower, you eventually hit a point where your signal strength begins to drop. This is the way things are supposed to work. If you cover up an antenna with more stuff (be it a case, your hands or the walls of a building) or move further away from a cell tower, your signal strength is going to drop. Remember, the real issue iPhone 4 owners are having isn't natural signal drop but rather that a signal drop can be caused by one finger even in a high coverage area as you cause a bridge between the device's antennas. The Torch suffers from no such issue, nor should any phone.

Camera and Video Recording

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Photos
A few photos snapped with the BlackBerry Torch 9800's 5 megapixel camera

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is the first BlackBerry to make the jump up to RIM's new five megapixel camera that features continuous autofocus, face detection and geotagging. While market research shows that the majority of the photos people take on their phones tend to stay on their phones, RIM's goal for the new and improved camera is to capture photos of a high enough quality and accuracy that they will look great while printed. As most of us now realize, more megapixels doesn't guarantee better photos, and that's why you don't see RIM simply trying to cram as many megapixels into the device as they can.

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is the first BlackBerry to make the jump up to RIM's new five megapixel camera

The new camera is a welcome upgrade to BlackBerry. For the most part you'll be able to simply leave the camera in Autofocus mode and take good pictures, but spending some time getting to know the different scene modes will help you take better pictures. I did find switching between camera scene modes can make a big impact to the photo - so it's obviously doing something magical to adjust for specific conditions. Also fitting to the Torch name, the camera flash is incredibly bright.

While the 5 megapixel camera captures images with a resolution of up to 2592 x 1944 pixels, unfortunately the video camera recording caps out at only 640 x 480 resolution. I have a hunch the actual camera hardware is capable of recording in higher resolutions (I bet it can do HD), but again this is a limitation of the current chipset used in the Torch. Case in point, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G with its 3.2 megapixel camera also records at 640 x 480 pixels. Comparatively, the Bold 9700, which lacks the n WiFi that the Pearl 3G and Torch 9800 have, only supports 480 x 360 resolution for video recording. Obviously it's not all about camera hardware here for determining video recording resolution. It could be that this is all the current board can handle. I definitely wish the Torch had HD video recording capabilities and will anxiously wait for the day we see it available on a BlackBerry device.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 CameraBlackBerry Torch 9800 Camera
left: Continuous Autofocus turned on by default; right: Camera app now features scenes

In terms of the software experience with the camera, big changes have been made to offer the user more control over their photo taking, including the ability to choose scenes such as Portrait, Sports, Night, Text and Party Mode (there are others too!). Sports mode actually features a ZERO LAG shutter, which guarantees you can capture the moment. Be sure to visit our full BlackBerry 6 review for full details on improvements made to the camera app

Direct Comparison: BlackBerry Torch 9800 camera vs. iPhone 4 camera

I was straight up pleased with the Torch's photo taking capabilities, but for the sake of this review figured we'd better put it head to head against the iPhone 4 to see how it stacks up to the competition. Answer: Pretty well! Other than resizing them down a bit, the photos below are unedited (click photos to launch in new browser tab). Both devices are capable of taking some great shots. We noticed the iPhone 4 tends to overexpose images a little bit more in comparison (depending on the lighting situation), which has the effect of brightening them but also washing out some of the detail. The Torch camera really does a great job of picking up detail and colors really well. Bottom line - if you're one of those people people who carries around a little point and shoot camera in addition to your BlackBerry right now, if you get the Torch and get to know the camera you should be able to leave that point and shoot at home. 

Photos taken with the BlackBerry Torch 9800:

Photos taken with Apple iPhone 4:

Direct Comparison: BlackBerry Torch 9800 Video Recording vs. iPhone 4 Video Recording

While the Torch 9800's photo taking capabilities are up to par with the iPhone 4 and arguably better, that's not the case when it comes to video recording. With BlackBerry 6 now offering a native youtube app with video uploader, it really is a shame the Torch's recording resolution is 640 x 480 pixels. The end result of 640 x 480 isn't horrible, as you can see in the video below, but it's not HD. I want HD. I'm anxiously waiting for the day when I can use my HD recording BlackBerry to do all of the review videos for this site. 

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Video Capture:


Apple iPhone 4 Video Capture:


Other Internals: WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, Speakers

BlackBerry Torch - WiFi, Bluetooth

The rest of the BlackBerry Torch's internals are on par with the usual high standard expected of BlackBerry devices.

WiFi - Like the BlackBerry Pearl 3G, the BlackBerry Torch adds the n standard to b and g and as we observed on the Pearl 3G, it definitely offers an improved WiFi experience compared to devices like the Bold 9700 and 9650 which don't have the updated WiFi. No ability to create mobile hotspots yet either, but we've seen that this should be coming to the Odin (Storm2) refresh later this year. Hopefully that's a sign most BlackBerry device models will offer it in the future. 

GPS - The GPS performance on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 seems up to par with other devices. RIM has been putting a lot of work into improving the BlackBerry platform for location-based services. They're using more cellular tower data to augment the GPS experience, and have made the cell site / geolocation api available to developers. The useful estimated time of arrival module is supported. While cell tower location is fast and pretty accurate (depending where you are), it still takes longer than I'd like for GPS location to hone in. It's not bad, but I'd love for that to be instant.

Bluetooth - There's no real need to mention this one, but just like other BlackBerry Smartphones today the Torch is Bluetooth 2.1 compliant. You should be good to go for using it with most Bluetooth headsets, speakerphones or other Bluetooth accessories you want to pair the Torch to.

Speakers - It could be in my head, or ears rather, but I don't think any new BlackBerry has quite matched the BlackBerry Bold 9000 for speaker loudness and clarity. Not having a Bold 9000 handy to compare to as I type this but rather a Bold 9700, I can definitely say the Torch 9800's built-in speakers trump those in the Bold 9700. With the volume cranked, the Bold 9700's speakers tend to get a little tinny/twangy on the higher notes which forces you to turn the volume down, but the Torch 9800 seems to always keep the sound in check even with the volume turned to max. In other words, you won't get annoyed listening to the Torch if you sit it on your desk for an afternoon and play some background tunes for everyone in the office.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Accessories

The quality tool feeling of the Torch may have a lot of owners wearing it on their hip The BlackBerry Bedside Charging Pod is a must-have for the Torch 9800

Like any BlackBerry Smartphone, a number of OEM and third party accessories will be available for the BlackBerry Torch 9800. No BlackBerry Torch case is included in the box from AT&T, but Torch owners will receive a cleaning cloth to rid the display of smudges, a basic stereo headset, microUSB cable and new power adapter that debuted in the Pearl 3G.

While the wear-your-BlackBerry-on-your belt look has faded away the last couple of years, I think the Torch 9800 may be the device that brings it back in style. With it's unpretentious yet retro/futuristic look and quality tool feel, I think users won't be shy to display the Torch for all to see. After all, where does one wear tools? On a tool belt! If that's not your cup of tea, I'm sure a plethora of other Torch cases, holsters and skins will quickly become available, though it will be interesting to see what sorts of designs accessory manufacturers come up with given the sliding form factor. A case or screen protector or invisible shield will be a smart investment for the Torch and will save yourself from a lot of agony.

According to a CrackBerry poll we ran recently, over 80% of BlackBerry users have dropped their BlackBerry at least once (some 26% have dropped their phone more than 5 times). Sure enough, during the week I have been using the Torch I managed to accidentally drop it in a parking lot. I'm not quite sure what I did - but it flew from my hands when getting out of the car. It landed HARD on the ground and I was seriously worried I did some major damage. Luckily the Torch is tough and no serious harm was done, but it did sustain a small nick from the fall - if you look hard in the device photos you might be able to spot it. Suffice to say, if you want to keep your Torch in mint condition you'll want to protect it.

Extra cables and batteries are always handy to have, and car kit mounts, car chargers and headsets help you go handsfree in the car. And of course the BlackBerry bedside charging pod will be a must-have for every BlackBerry Torch owner. You'll want to check back regularly to for the latest and greatest in BlackBerry Torch 9800 accessories.

BlackBerry Torch Hardware Wrap Up

BlackBerry Torches

All said and done, I think anyone who buys a BlackBerry Torch 9800 is going to be very pleased overall with the hardware experience. It's clear RIM's design and engineering team paid close attention not just to the visual design of the device, but more importantly to how an owner will use the device in their everyday lives. Seriously, I went from being a slider hater to a slider evangelist after only two days on the Torch 9800, and every day that passes my fondess for the Torch's form factor increases.

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to use a BlackBerry without a touchscreen again.

The Torch 9800 retains the one-handed ease of use traditional BlackBerry owners so greatly appreciate and adds to it a big usable touchscreen that really improves the overall experience. Being able to use both the trackpad and touchscreen for navigation will quickly spoil longtime BlackBerry owners - I'm not sure I'll ever be able to use a BlackBerry without a touchscreen again. The overall hardware experience the BlackBerry Torch 9800 delivers should please anybody who buys it, whether they are a long-time BlackBerry user or first time owner. While loyal BlackBerry users on AT&T and other carriers getting the device will likely flock to the Torch -- it definitely is the best BlackBerry to date -- the hardware is lacking on some of the higher end specs that would help win over the tech journalists and tech savvy consumers in the marketplace. It's hard to get uber excited over a 360 x 480 pixels display (with no 3D graphics), a 624MHz processor and 640 x 480 video recording in the year 2010. While after using the device I'm happy with the overall performance of the harware, I just wish RIM would have been able to cram some components of higher specs into the Torch 9800. It's delivers a winning experience in my book, but some people may never give the 9800 a proper chance to win them over because up front it's not enough of a winner on paper, which is too bad.

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Experiencing BlackBerry 6 Software on the BlackBerry Torch 9800

BlackBerry 6

Let's be clear. If the BlackBerry Torch 9800 would have shipped with the same version 5.0 device software currently present on other in-market device models, the Torch still would have been a winner among BlackBerry fans. Simply having both the big screen and physical keyboard together in a friendly and usable form factor makes for a much more compelling BlackBerry experience. The fact the BlackBerry Torch debuts with BlackBerry 6 just makes it better. Way better.

BlackBerry 6 is no minor update for RIM. Yes, it's an evolutionary update vs. an all new operating system, but they've crammed more features into and pulled more performance out of the BlackBerry operating system than I would have thought was possible. They've fixed the web browser, made the BlackBerry operating system deliver a proper touchscreen experience, overhauled the graphics and user interface to give it a modern feel and added some new bells and whistles like Universal Search and the Social Feeds app. There is a LOT new in BlackBerry 6, so be sure to read our BlackBerry 6 Review, FAQ and What's New article for an in-depth look and our full thoughts (good and bad) on everything BB6.

New Homescreen experience, Universal Search, and UI changes

New BlackBerry 6 homescreen experienceBlackBerry 6 Full Icon Tray
new homescreen experience exposes more of the BlackBerry operating system

When RIM says one of the key design priorities of BlackBerry 6 was to make it fresh but familiar, I give them points for succeeding.  Upon first glance the Torch's homescreen doesn't look any different than that of the BlackBerry Storm. A few seconds later you start to notice some of the visual changes, like the Navigation Bar (a) and the magnifying glass icon for Universal Search (d). Once you start tapping around, you discover the Notifications Preview (b) and the Manage Connections quick access point (c). The default icons have been updated too (the calendar icon now shows the proper date too!) but that's just lipstick compared to the actual homescreen experience changes implemented in BlackBerry 6.

The addition of views to the homescreen experience exposes a lot more of the BlackBerry to you up front. The default views are All, Favorites, Media, Downloads and Frequent. As of now you can't customize/create your own views, though I'll put money on that functionality coming to BlackBerry 6 in a future maintenance release. I like the new view concept - it gives off the impression your BlackBerry is bigger than the physical piece of glass you're looking at, which to me is one of the key signs of a modern day operating system. Being able set how many icons are showing by dragging the navigation bar up or down is a nice touch too. I also love that you can now set contacts and webpages as homescreen shortcuts as well and set favorites - this brings a lot more power to the homescreen experience.

It would have been nice to see proper "widgets" hit the homescreen in BlackBerry 6 - so at a glance I could see how my stocks and sports teams are doing without actually having to enter a full application. My guess is this isn't something that's easy to do on the BlackBerry platform, or RIM would have done it (maybe we'll see it in BlackBerry 7). One gripe about the homescreen views is that it seems to take a little too long to toggle between views. I think RIM didn't want to put to much sensitivity into swapping views (it would be annoying if it was overly sensitive and you were switching views without wanting too), so on the homescreen they made changing views require a full swipe that then triggers the action to change a view (the view change doesn't happen in real time as you move your finger on the display). This gives off the impression of lag in switching views, although I don't think it actually is lag. I think RIM can easily speed up that experience based on how the rest of the operating system performs (maybe an option setting for this would be nice?).

BlackBerry 6 Notifications previewUniversal Search on BlackBerry 6
left: Notifications Preview; right: Universal Search

The Notification Preview is a nice addition to the homescreen experience and is useful. Getting a glance of your incoming messages and upcoming appointments and being able to jump directly to them is a nobrainer on BlackBerry. And the Manage Connections drop down screen is a simple change that adds a ton of value - they should really just add this in to OS 5.

You can just start typing and Universal Search immediately begins displaying your results. It's actually a little ridiculous how much I love Universal Search.

To me the best addition to the BlackBerry 6 homescreen experience is the addition of Universal Search to the homescreen experience. You can tap the magnifying glass icon to launch it, but on a device like the Torch it's all about sliding out the keyboard and typing. Instead of hunting for icons to launch apps and then hunting through apps to actually do stuff -- be it finding a contact, doing up a web search, finding a song to listen to, changing a device option, etc. -- you can just start typing and Universal Search immediately begins displaying your results. It's actually a little ridiculous how much I love Universal Search. It makes the already quick BlackBerry user experience that much quicker. I can just whip the Torch out of my pocket, type a few characters, tap an icon and I'm done. Love it.

The Application Switcher screen received a nice update that makes multitasking on the BlackBerry a more pleasant experience, though it's still not as intuitive as it should be. To invoke the Application Switcher you still have to either launch it from a menu or hold down the BlackBerry menu button (the one to the left of the trackpad) for a moment. As long as you're aware of these options they get the multitasking job done, but they're not as apparent nor as seemless as I'd like them to be - both options sort of take you out of the user experience for a second vs. just flowing between experiences. I'm not sure what the optimal solution is here (some sort of magic on screen gesture - tap twice with two fingers??) but the way it is now I could still see some new to BlackBerry owners not realizing that their Torch can multitask. 

Application SwitcherContextual Pop-up Menus
left: Application Switcher updated; right: new contextual pop-up menu

New contextual popup menus provide a friendlier alternative to the sometimes daunting menus present throughout the BlackBerry operating system. By showing only the most popular menu items it adds a layer of simplicity on top of something that's a little complex. I know that sounds a little backwards, but it works. The only gripe here is that you need to think about using the popup menus. Somebody like our friend Rene Ritchie of (TheiPhoneBlog) would argue that relevant in-app options should be visually displayed. As for the main device Options, RIM went through them and consumerized them a bit more. They're now categorized in a more meaningful way with icons and descriptions, and the more daunting options are buried a bit deeper. Though to be honest, I've found myself using the Universal Search to get to Device Options now vs. re-learning where specific options now live.

There's a lot more going on in BlackBerry 6 which for most users should be a good thing. I could see some people who use their BlackBerry purely as a work tool (phone, email) being turned off by the added features in BlackBerry 6 - if an existing BlackBerry owner just wants to stick to their old way of using the device they may be better off sticking with OS 5.0, which is why I think for the time being RIM will keep it available on devices like the upcoming Curve 9300 (I'm not sure BlackBerry 6 would be so hawt on 320 x 240 pixels anyways). A device like the Curve 9300 becomes your basic BlackBerry, while BlackBerry 6 delivers a slightly busier but much more complete user experience.

Browsing the web on the BlackBerry Torch 9800

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Webkit BrowserWebKit Browser Now with Tabbed Browsing
left: WebKit renders webpages more accurately; right: BlackBerry browser now with tabs!

If there's one feature BlackBerry users have wanted to see improve on their devices more than anything else, it's the BlackBerry web browser. With BlackBerry 6 that wish can finally be crossed off the list, as the new web browser with WebKit rendering finally makes browsing the web on a BlackBerry an enjoyable experience. Comparing the Torch 9800 to my Bold 9700, it's a night and day difference. With the BlackBerry Torch's name being inspired by the company that brought BlackBerry a proper web browser, we'd better sum up the new features in detail:

  • Enhanced Web Standards Support - the browser achieves an ACID 3 compliance score of 100 ( and includes support for CSS3 and HTML5.
  • Tabbed Browsing - simply tap the New Tab icon in the top right corner of the browser and you are prompted open another web page. With multiple pages open you can tap the same button to toggle between pages
  • Add Webpage Shortcuts to the Homescreen - When you're on a webpage you want to create a homescreen shortcut for, you can find the Add to Home Screen option by tapping the Globe icon
  • Bookmarks / Subscribe to RSS Feed - bookmarks can easily be added under the Globe icon. Also under the Globe icon is an option to subscribe to the RSS Feed, which adds it to the new BlackBerry 6 Social Feeds app (more on that below).
  • Pinch Zoom / Text Auto Zoom - you can now use the pinch gesture (on touchscreens) to zoom in one pages. The browser also features an auto zoom mode. Double tapping on a block of text zooms in and re-flows the text for easy reading, eliminating the need to pan
  • Updated Start Page - the web browser start page has been also been cleaned up. Instead of separate fields for Search/URL they are now combined into one.
  • Updated Browser Options - the browser options have been simplified to a single page. You can now set a homepage of your choosing, set the default search client and manage content, privacy and security settings. The Clear Browsing Data section is at the bottom of options page, where you can choose to clear out passwords, history, cookies, cache and pushed content.
  • Enhanced URL Sharing - when on a webpage, the Send Page Address option can be accessed from the menu, allowing page URLs to now be shared via the Social Feeds app, Facebook and Twitter, in addition to email, text message, PIN, group message or messenger contact.
  • Automatic Browser Transport Selection - the browser now automatically selects the optimal transport mode based on the data connections available (no more having to first switch to the HotSpot browser in order to use WiFi). If the device is connected to WiFi the browser uses that connection and goes straight out to the internet. If WiFi isn't present, the browser goes through RIM's BIS Optimized WebKit Proxy (BES users go through the BES proxy).

All of these updates have me actually using the web browser on my BlackBerry, which is something I have historically tried to avoid unless necessary (time is money and I didn't have the patience to sit there waiting for the old browser). Obviously the web browser now renders pages a lot faster and more accurately and the pinch to zoom and text autoflow delivers a pretty smooth experience for navigating and reading a page once its loaded. The other improvements -- tabbed browsing, simplified options, adding webpages as shortcuts and to RSS -- those are all icing on the cake. The overall Torch 9800 web browsing experience for me has been satisfying. I just think it could be even better if the Torch had a higher resolution display.

Web Browser Shootout: BlackBerry Torch 9800 vs. iPhone 4 vs. Samsung Captivate

So how does the new BlackBerry web browser stack up to the latest and greatest devices from the competition? I wanted to know the answer to that myself, so with some help from Dieter we cleared the cache on the BlackBerry Torch 9800, Apple iPhone 4 and new Android-based Samsung Captivate and put the devices head to head to head in a one take, no messing around web browser shootout. We tested the browsers both over 3G and WiFi (note - towards the end of the video where I jokingly say the BlackBerry browsing is being 3x more efficient, keep in mind that only applies to browsing over 3G - when browsing over WiFi the data is pulled straight in to the device vs. over 3G when it goes through RIM's servers which optimize and compress the data over the air).

The results? Well... it's a good news bads new thing. The bad news: in our little test the BlackBerry Torch 9800 couldn't pull off even one victory against the iPhone 4 and Captivate. The good news is it held in there pretty darn well - close enough that I don't think you'll feel hard done. It's a matter of a few seconds, which is a massive step forward from our old native BlackBerry web browser. Reflecting on the results post shootout, Dieter and I both agreed this is probably an area where the Torch's 624MHz processor could be the culprit more than the web browser itself. If you put the same 624MHz into the iPhone 4 or Captivate the Torch would probably Torch them. Conversely, if you upped the processing power in the Torch it could probably match or better the competition as well. Final conclusion: it's a massive upgrade to the BlackBerry web browser and it paves the way for even more speed and performance as we see RIM move up to their next generation of hardware. In the meantime, as long as you're not doing head to head shootouts, you'll now enjoy browsing on your BlackBerry a lot. 

BlackBerry Torch 9800 is a Messaging and Social Networking Machine

New BlackBerry 6 Social Feeds appSocial Feeds app allows you to post to multiple sites
the new Social Feeds application rocks!

Surveys and stats have shown on the iPhone that the killer app is the web browser - it's the single most-used app on the iPhone. What's the killer app on BlackBerry? To me it's PEOPLE. BlackBerry really is a people phone. Whether by voice, email, text, BBM, twitter or IM, the majority of the time a BlackBerry is in a person's hand is because they are communicating with another person. And between BlackBerry's famous keyboards, push services and blinking LED light that puts the crack in CrackBerry, there's good reason why this is the case. BlackBerry really is the best communications device on the planet. It's also explains why more than any other device you see BlackBerry Smartphones in people's hands in public - they're not addicted to the device, but to the people device connects them to. And the BlackBerry experience makes it so easy to connect back to those people that there's no hesitation - you just do it.

I REALLY love the Social Feeds app. It's the best of both worlds - all in one viewing and none of the sacrifice you would typically see in an all-in-one application.

Why that long intro? Because not that they needed to, but RIM decided to make the CrackBerry experience even CrackBerrier by upping the messaging experience in BlackBerry 6. The new Social Feeds app brings your social networks and IM clients -- AIM, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, Google Talk, MySpace, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger -- altogether in one place that's easy to view either altogether or individually. You can create new posts (status updates) and post them to one or all services in shot, and when wanting to reply to post on the feeds you get taken automatically into the native app so you have full functionality. I REALLY love the Social Feeds app. It's the best of both worlds - all in one viewing and none of the sacrifice you would typically see in an all-in-one application.  The Social Feeds app also offers an RSS reader which makes following your favorite websites that much better. 

Other updates in BlackBerry 6 further enhance the BlackBerry Torch 9800 as a communications tool. The new inbox search makes it easier to find old emails. SMS/MMS are now referred to as Text and get some new features, like the ability to group conversations and send your location. Other than that, it's all BlackBerry as it always has been, which means it's pretty awesome. As Dieter Bohn has pointed out in the Smartphone Round Robin the past three years, you sort of have to buy into the BlackBerry way of doing things, but for most people it's a good thing. There are some little gripes here and there -- the Gmail sync isn't syncy enough just yet -- but on the whole when it comes to the killer app of PEOPLE, I think the BlackBerry Torch 9800 just rocks (especially with that full qwerty keyboard!). 

Using the BlackBerry Torch for Multimedia - Music, Movies, Pictures and More

BlackBerry 6 MultimediaNew Podcasts app
left: new YouTube app; right: new Podcasts app 

While most BlackBerry owners have historically avoided the web browser because it sucked, a lot of those same BlackBerry users have never used the media capabilities of their device simply because they didn't know they had them. Instead of burying the media apps in a folder as has always been the case, BlackBerry 6 brings them to the homescreen with a dedicated View. A much higher percentage of owners will take advantage of the media capabilites of their BlackBerry Torch 9800 simply because BlackBerry 6 makes you think about using them all the time. A lot of solid updates have happened here in BlackBerry 6. The Pictures app gets some organizational improvements that make it more useful all around. The Music and Movies apps get a lot more visual with a greater use of album art for Music and auto-generated thumbnails for movies. The fact you can still flick through your albums while playing a song in the Music app makes the experience more engaging. The Music app also gets WiFi music sync, essentially allowing you to have all of your music library's meta data on your device and remotely choosing which songs you want to add/remove from your device automatically the next time you hit your home WiFi network (personally I'd rather just stick a 32GB card in the Torch and carry the majority of my music collection with me). The Podcasts app fills in this historical gap in BlackBerry's media offering and the native YouTube app allows you to upload videos from your device straight into your YouTube account. Unfortunately there's no native YouTube viewing app - aside from the uploader it's a shortcut to the website. However, there is a new Web Video Search app that delivers a pretty decent video discovery experience. For more details, be sure to check out our full BlackBerry 6 Review. The BlackBerry Torch 9800 lacks the dedicated media buttons of the BlackBerry Pearl and Curve 8500 devices, but between the big physical display on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 and the media updates in BlackBerry 6, I'd argue it's the most media friendly BlackBerry we have seen to date.

Raising the Torch Higher with BlackBerry apps

BlackBerry App World 2.0CrackBerry App Superstore
left: App World 2.0; right: CrackBerry App Superstore!

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 from AT&T comes preloaded with App World 2.0, which includes carrier billing, so it makes getting third party BlackBerry apps on your device easier than ever. OK, shameless plug time... If you're reading this review you're obviously a knowledgeable person and a fan of CrackBerry, so the first app you should really install is our CrackBerry App Superstore. Not only can you find cheaper pricing on a lot of apps (developers can go as low as 99 cents if the want to) and take advantage of our Deal of the Day offering (a different half-price game, app and them each day!), the store is also backed by a dedicated order support team. You can learn more and download the CrackBerry App Superstore here.

The good news about BlackBerry 6 is that all of your previous BlackBerry apps will run just fine on it.

The good news about BlackBerry 6 is that all of your previous BlackBerry apps will run just fine on it. And with BlackBerry 6 RIM has introduced some new APIs developers can take advantage of to further enhance the experience - like tying into the Universal Search. In general the app experience remains the same on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 as on other devices, though the Storm-sized display is friendlier for apps than a Bold or Curve-sized display and the fact the Torch 9800 has a proper touchscreen makes all apps a little nicer to use. 

The bad news here is that we're still waiting to see the day of iPhone-like games on BlackBerry. With only 512MB of device memory and no-ability to run apps off the storage memory/memory card yet, BlackBerry apps will continue to be small-ish in size, and therefore somewhat limited in sex appeal (this post on the difference between Need for Speed Shift on the iPhone vs. BlackBerry illustrates the point). I've sort of come to the conclusion that if it was easy to for RIM to add this app-ability into the platform they would have done it by now, which means there is obviously some platform stuff that prevents them from doing so. At least we have this notion of super apps, which are apps that integrate fully throughout the user experience. 

BlackBerry Desktop Manager 6

BlackBerry Desktop Manager version 6

With the release of BlackBerry 6 on the Torch 9800, it only made sense that RIM would release version 6 of the BlackBerry Desktop Software. In addition to revamping the graphics and user interface (which looks much better and is more clear), Media Sync is built-in for Music, Pictures and Video. As of the date of this review being published it's only available for PC, but we are told version 6 for Mac should be available shortly.

I'm still hoping and waiting for the day that RIM makes more of the BlackBerry experience cloud based so the average user never needs to worry about software like Desktop Manager.

Overall BlackBerry 6 Stability, Performance and Usage Experience

BlackBerry 6 Application ManagementBlackBerry 6 Application Management
Application Management now provides more details on BlackBerry resources

So far so good. The fact BlackBerry 6 is an evolutionary upgrade to the BlackBerry operating system means those little BlackBerry annoyances can still pop up from time to time, though for the most part RIM seems to have done an excellent job in minimizing them in BlackBerry 6. In other words, we *hopefully* won't be seeing an app that performs a nightly battery pull as the top selling / most downloaded app for the BlackBerry Torch 9800. Using the device I get the feeling RIM has succeeded in addressing the memory management issues of the past. Knowing that the Torch 9800 has the same processor speed as the Bold 9700 and knowing that BlackBerry 6 is a bit heavier, I was sort of expecting the experience to be on the sluggish side, but I think RIM must have their best people working overtime on the operating system these days to squeeze every optimization and ounce of performance out of the platform that they can. It's not perfect yet though. I'd argue that while it's been shielded really well, the OS still has a little bit of a glass jaw where you can overwhelm it at times. I've experienced a couple of slow downs now where I've simply had too many apps running at once (but to be fair was literally trying to cause a slow down to happen). And when you're doing something like installing an application, you're still better off just waiting for the app to finish installing vs. trying to keep using the device while the app installs in the background. For the average everyday user, the device should pack ample performance.

One nifty feature RIM added to BlackBerry 6 is an expansion to the Application Management screen, which is now more of a full out app and offers views of not only the apps installed, but also the amount of memory resources they consume and percentage of CPU speed. A usage tracker has also been built-in, which allows you to see exactly how many time you have spent on your BlackBerry. Cool stuff!

All in all I've been very pleased with the overall performance of the BlackBerry Torch 9800 and BlackBerry 6. it's the best BlackBerry I've used to date, period!

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BlackBerry Torch 9800 Closing Thoughts

BlackBerry Torch 9800

Final verdict? At the end of the day, the Torch is a welcome addition to the BlackBerry family. The vertical sliding form factor really suits the BlackBerry experience, and with the Torch 9800 RIM has delivered a consumer product that not only puts the best of everything BlackBerry into one device. Between the sliding action of the hardware and the touchscreen experience on BlackBerry 6, the Torch 9800 is not just the best BlackBerry to date, but also the one that is the most fun to use.

The Torch 9800 is not just the best BlackBerry to date, but also the one that is the most fun to use

Bringing it all back to my now legendary Smartphone Hierarchy of Needs Theory, the BlackBerry Torch 9800 with BlackBerry 6 more completely fills in the hierarchy than any other BlackBerry device model before it. To me, that makes it the best BlackBerry dvice model to date and a worthy device for any would be smartphone owner, especially one that values having a full physical keyboard and also wants the modern day touchscreen experience that devices like the iPhone offer. 

With the BlackBerry Torch 9800 Research In Motion has successfully addressed a lot of the major wants BlackBerry owners have longed for. The web browser is fixed. There is now a proper touchscreen experience. The operating system has a more modern feel. These are big things that RIM needed to deliver and did. And beyond that, they put a lot of attention to detail into how a person actually uses their BlackBerry which has resulted in a very polished consumer product. Sooner is always better and it would have been nice to see a device like the Torch 9800 hit two years ago rather than the debacle that was the Storm 9530. You can't change history though and sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes. The BlackBerry Torch 9800 and BlackBerry 6 is proof RIM is learning from their experience and is working harder than ever to produce consumer polished products that deliver more than just satisfactory experiences. Of course we'd always like to see RIM working harder - there is a lot of work left to be done to win over new customers in a smartphone game that is more competitive than ever. But if you're a BlackBerry fan you'll want to head to the store and play with a Torch - you'll see what we mean.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Summary

  • vertical slider form factor suits the BlackBerry experience
  • proper touchscreen experience is responsive and easy to use (no more SurePress!)
  • full physical keyboard is easy to type on
  • solid build quality - feels like a quality Tool
  • 5 megapixel camera delivers great photos
  • BlackBerry 6 is a big step up all around (read BlackBerry 6 Review)
  • You can now enjoy web browsing on a BlackBerry with the new WebKit rendering!
  • Universal Search fundamentally changes the way you navigate your BlackBerry
  • The funnest BlackBerry on the market
Ho Hums
  • 360 x 480 display is ok, but a higher resolution display would really have taken the Torch 9800 to another level
  • 624MHz processor delivers ok performance, but a faster processor would help the Torch power through tasks like web browsing even faster
  • Lack of OpenGL support for 3D Graphics is disappointing
  • 640 x 480 video recording resolution is disappointing (especially considering how much better the camera now is for taking photos)

Related BlackBerry Torch 9800 / BlackBerry 6 Review Links

Other BlackBerry Torch 9800 and BlackBerry 6 Links

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Reader comments

BlackBerry Torch Review



this will definitely be my new phone. I really like the new interface and the fantastic new browser. the hybrid is just what i wanted with the bold after always wanting to touch the 9000 screen :)

bring out a form factor like the 9000 and I would consider that too!

I was a bit worried it would be top heavy like some certain slider phones but i big fan of slider phones in this form factor tho, since I've owned 2 already.

I'm disappointed that the cpu does not do open gl as I feel this could really explode the app world market in regards to casual gaming but alas isnt that what Nintendo DS and PSPs are for?

I like the in-depth review and certain parts really stand out. the inclusion of the cpu really does mean the blackberry os is quite a lot faster than android and the gut filling i0S 4. but that doesn't excuse them of using older tech but when you think about it, how far are you willing to sacrifice battery life with a faster cpu?

I'd love to know if the camera recording features allows for the led light to be on during the night. A little disappointed it wasn't able to keep up with the competition in regards to hd video, not a big deal esp if you have a pocketable hd camera but again having one means you could leave one at home :P

i love the images of how you can use the touch screen and photo comparisons and the fact they are bring the multimedia capabilities to the foreground. Would like to know if they are allowing us to save apps to the memory card?

i do like the storm surepress touchscreen features and they should bring out another. I can envison another torch update in a touch only form (without surepress) to appease other users.

This phone has been in the planning stage since 2008 apparently and so im sure they are kicking it to build the next one.

finally, like you said any slowdowns you experience may get quick update esp with certain apps apparently not performing as well as they should

I agree that the phone seems to be a better experience than my 9700,especially with the new touchscreen. I always thought the 9700 was a good phone, kinda got the job done--that is, until I finally got to play around with an iPhone and Android 2 weeks ago, and realized that the 9700 is just an email machine with a horrible slow browser and horrible apps. Never knew what I was missing.

If this new phone can breach the gap between Apple/Android, then it has already won in retaining business users. But I can tell you right now, based on video comparisons I am seeing all over the Internets, there's no way I would buy one of these for personal use, it's not quite ready for prime-time.

I work the "magenta T" I want this phone really bad! Ill have to talk to my cousin and see if she loves me enough to add me as a second line to her account just so I can get it. ;) LOL! I'm very happy with my 9700 for now. Ill be looking forward to Tmo releasing 6.0 for it or at least get the 9780

It'd be nice if every other carrier released a statement to let people know if they are or are not getting something similar to this phone. I'm not switching to at&t for this nor do I wanna shell out $400+ for this on the 12th, just to find out TMO or Sprint is getting their version within 3 months

Great review!!

But I really hate this phone.

Bring on the 9900 already, RIM. Touch-screen bold with no track-pad.

I'm a Bold 9000 owner on AT& first and only blackberry device. Before that was an iPhone3G. My two year contract expired on July 18th. I resisted an upgrade to the iPhone4 pending the launch of this phone. I was filled with childlike Christmas morning excitement in anticipation of this device. Sad to say I was so disappointed. Screen resolution/size and processor speed did it to me. Just to think I could've long been enjoying my iPhone4.

And upgrading to this phone would be $60 cheaper than an iPhone4 16GB. AT&T is giving me an extra $50 off and no upgrade fee on any handset except an iPhone.

The screen resolution and processor speed have been well known for a couple of months now. Just to think you could have been enjoying your iPhone 4 if only you had the wherewithal to do a modicum of reading here on CB.

Kevin, you've done a absolutely GREAT job on this review. This is quite possibly the most detailed and , MOST IMPORTANTLY, unbiased review I've seen running around the net. Engadget's review is PURE, fresh from the anus BULLSHIT. Their highly noticeable and apparent fanboy-ism shows greatly in both their first impressions and the review itself. The more I see crap like that, the least I want to spend my time on their site. And Gizmodo, who I could usually trust more for a honest opinion, had someone who wrote less like a tech analyst and more like a 14 year kid, was no better. It's a shame how true journalism is dying.

Either way, this phone may not be the "whatever"-killer, but it is leaps and bounds from what RIM have come from, and it's a sign of better things to come.

Now, about that Storm3....

When compared to any other Blackberry phones, this phone is good. When compared to an iphone or an android phone, it falls short. It all goes back to comparing apples to blackberries, one is primarly an entertainment device and one is primarly an information device. Kevin compared it more to communication devices, previous blackberries, whereas everybody else compares it to all smartphone devices. Bottom line, if you're a blackberry user, you will love it, if you're coming from an iphone or an android device, you will probably find it lacking and unable to give you that new tow orgasm that you're looking for.

I never made any insinuation about it being better or worse than an iPhone/Android phone. Hell, I didn't even mention it in the initial post. Quite honesty, you just added on to the point that I made at the end of the post. I'm was talking more along the line of Engadget/Gizmodo seemingly ripping the phone a new asshole and reading the biased opinions that lie therein. All I asked for was more fair reviews. But seeing how this is the internet after all, maybe that's asking for too much.

That's kinda where I was coming from. Asking for a fair, unbiased opinion from somebody who is a fan of either iphone or android, (granted, I'm just assuming they are) is too much to ask. I think when I read their reviews, I have that thought in the back of my mind. Which. now that I think about it, kind of defeats the purpose of the whole review process. Ok, I'm on your side, why can't we get good, fair and balanced reviews? I saw on CNBC crawl on Tuesday "OS 6 Fails to Impress" I didn't hear any of the pundits though.

I disagree, I was a Bold 9000 then went to an Iphone 3GS and experienced nothing but agony with every click I made. The screen may be nicer and the device may be faster but I had tons of email and push issues, missed being able to listen to pandora while reading an email or playing games, and worse was their so called spell checking which didnt even come into play until their 4.0 update. Even with all their patches, I have never been more excited to drop a phone for this phone. I'll be a guinea pig and deal with the enevitable issues that are bound to arise with a new OS but i'll atleast be able to read my emails in a timely manner!

I've been a loyal blackberry user for over 4 years. I've had most of their "flagship" devices. The 8830, Storm 1 and Bold 9700.

However RIM has been failing as an innovator. Their phones used to be innovative. They pushed the market, but this Torch isn't even catch up. It can't even touch any of the top tier phones. I am a crazy Blackberry fanboy, but I couldn't sit around with their shitty browser, lackluster apps. I can't run out and spend $500 every 3 months for a new device that only matches the competition.

I stood in line for the iPhone 4 and I couldn't believe how many people there were switching from their BBs. I spoke to about 10-15 people around me and at least 10 were jumping ship.

Just look at the friggin video, how can a "flagship" phone have lag when scrolling?? How can you possibly not even get scrolling to work smoothly. Every other top tier phone has gotten that right.

The only thing that RIM does right, and I do miss it, is the messaging, but even then Engadget got it right when talking about the messed up inboxes. Sure Engadget is a pro apple site, but they make very very valid points.

While guy here on writes about how its fine because its so much better than the last OS, even though its still leaps and bounds behind the competition.

In this day and age when you have phones that can take HD video, act as wifi hubs, have video calling over 3g, and millions of apps. RIM has definitely failed. I'm glad I got rid of those stocks.

"In this day and age when you have phones that can take HD video, act as wifi hubs, have video calling over 3g, and millions of apps. RIM has definitely failed."

It was SMART for RIM not to include all that extra garbage that the majority of people will NEVER use, it just makes it a more reliable PHONE.

This would be a valid argument if the Torch was a reliable phone. However as you can clearly see in the videos posted on not only this site but multiple other sites, the Torch is clearly an unreliable phone. When you poke at the screen and nothing happens and need multiple touches to start something then that is called unreliability. When the OS loaded on the phone pushes the processing power of the phone doing the most basic tasks then that is also called unreliability.

I'm not saying the iPhone is scot free as well. It has antenna problems and whatnot, but even then it is more reliable than the Torch and it comes with nearly all those features that I listed in my last comment.

Same as you ShortStakz. I had a Curve then switched to an iPhone 3GS 32gig. While there are some amazing features on the iphone, there are just too many problems and frustrations that go with it. I am now back to Blackberry with the Torch and I love it!
My Rabbi also has an iphone 3GS and wishes he would have just stayed with his Palm Treo. The iPhone is not always king of the tech hill. :o)

LOL You did not just say unbiased review! Between that comment and saying you trust Jizzmodo made your whole post a laugh fest.

But its funny when an article is the opinion you want to hear it is an unbiased great article but when it isn't the opinion you want its biased and childlike.

whoopdy freaking do ! only the s**ty carriers are getting this phone. What da H*ll ? att,sprint,tmobile, all suck ,as for data and signal dependancy wise. and RIM does not give verizon this phone . No we get some friggin clam shell that looks like, the revampt motorolla star tack.... WTF.....

Did you read this review or just watch the videos? it explains why the *cough* crappy... (i love at&T!) carrier got it.

Don't hate. Tell verizon to get creative and call RIM :)

Verizon got CREATIVE when it stopped giving a hoot about BlackBerry and started successfully pushing Android devices...

I was a VZW bb Fanboy once. Loved ky curve but was annoyed when bold was out for other carriers and I was still rocking 2 or 3 year old technology. Then came the tour, which I loved compared to the 8330 but there is my point, compared to. My buddy got the MOTO Droid and I realized how behind my "new" phone was. Made the switch to Droid incredible and couldn't be happier. When I see and here about OS 6 all I can think about is how this needed be out last year. It's a shame to see how RIM ignored their users and focused on selling devices to 3rd world countries.

"It's a shame to see how RIM ignored their users and focused on selling devices to 3rd world countries."

Now look how RIM is being treated by them now!!! These countries only seem to want to crack codes and want RIM to open the gates for them.

Too much time wasted trying to open up new markets that now want to shut them down...

Read Giz's review and they completely trashed the 9800 and they had good arguments for it. I am sorry to say this but i will not be upgrading after reading their review. Kevin's review seems to be much more positive( hence, its crackberry) but i dont see any direct recommendations to RIM. This review seems to tip e toe around the real issues RIM faces. The screen is crap. really. slow processor omg, crap too. I really feel they shot themselves in the foot with this phone. Yeah corporate blah blah blah. Cant believe they put together recycled parts.
I really like RIM and i want them to do well, but they are not listening to us.
I think my next phone will be the Captivate.

This phone is Blah...there is no wow factor. The palm Pre did the form factor and OS better.

Maybe the storm 3 will be the true second coming.

You obviously didn't own a Pre if you think their form factor was solid. Sure it's the same sliding position, but the build quality is far beyond that of Palm. Can't speak to the OS as I've yet to try it, and neither have you. Enjoy your 20 pound HTC and it's Samsung screen which will no doubt become less effective when you drop that thing a bazillion times...

You just ripped him for speaking about something he has no hands on knowledge of and you, go on to, admit you have no hands on knowledge of it either.

Please just go upstairs, sit next to your mommy and watch iCarly or whatever disney show is on now.

Well done review. It answered a lot of my questions that were roaming around in my head. This phone looks fantastic and I can't wait to try it out. I love BB and they had to do something good which I think they did. I can't wait till the 12th and again thank yoyou very much.

"they had to do something good" You call this good? You've never owned an iPhone or Android device then, because this certainly isn't "good".

Unless, your definition of good is a lot worse than what I believe it is.

If you want to talk to someone who owned an iPhone, I bought a new iPhone and brought it back a few days later, because it is sh*t!!! I did the same thing with the orignal iPhone when it first came out, only to trade it for a motorola slider (it wasn't even a slider, but it was better than the iPhone) The iPhone may look pretty, but who needs HD on a phone's tiny screen. The iPhone and newer androids may have faster proccessors, but they need all that power to run their sluggish OSs. All in all, the iPhone is a toy that looks good because of numbers, whereas Blackberries are meant to be used not just shown off or displayed

Reviews are so mixed on this device that it makes me not care. It's like a little too late for RIM to bring this out and OS6. I can only see this being a great upgrade for existing blackberry users who have no intention to leave the camp. Everything about this device and OS does not make me want to come back to the camp. Glad I left to Android and my Nexus One.

How do you like the n1s crap touch sensitivity? Or crap soft butons? Or how about its slippy slidey fall out of your hand feel? Trackball sensitivity? What about scroll lag? You know its real, so dont bitch on a phone you haven't even tried yet when your precious n1 is no better and far less usable.

Will the screen go off if you slide into a case just like the 9700 and turn on when you pull it out like most other blackberries do?

Kevin an absolutely first class review!!!

For those of you who are looking to purchase another manufacturers product...go comment in their sites.

I will be buying this phone!

Again good job!

Indeed. Kevin proves himself as a class act as a journalist - did anyone look at the CNET review? That's good, but this one is a much bigger better and considered package with video and text. It enables me to make up my mind NOT to buy the phone. However it's not without a twinge of regret that I make that decision. RIM is a good [i.e., 'morally', relatively speaking] company and they make excellent communications tools for businesses. However I don't want to personally live without a decent, modern browsing experience - both in my personal and professional lives [and I'm in the business of communication too, professionally]. Nor do I want to deal with the risk of the modest processor not being able to keep up with any additions that I might want to make to the applications list during the couple of years that I and the device will have to co-exist. If I could combine the 'ready-for-anything' power of a high-end Android device, with the communications prowess of even a BlackBerry with moderate specs, I'd be happy. But I can't, so I'll just have to find a good deal on an Evo 3G and look at RIM's offering again in a couple of years.

compared to bull$^%&. (quote from tenacious d). seriously RIM, i've been faithful. I love the email and messaging capabilities. but there is no excuse for a lackluster screen, processor, etc. and with the $200 price point offering heavy hitters, i don't see how you can convince people to re-up a contract for this?

i've held on to my bold 9000 for as long as possible, but unfortunately it looks like i'll be jumping ship. i am bummed.

Great points Kevin! You are so right that the 9800 is far superior to the 9700.

I am so glad you are happy with your new 9800.

Email me when you have all your stuff transfered over from your white 9700 to your 9800 and I'll take your white 9700 off your hands. You don't need it. I'll be doing you a favor.

Don't worry, I'll pay the shipping from Winnipeg to Ontario. It's the least I can do to help you out.

Thanks Kevin.

I am with Verizon and just got my new Bold which I love.
But still, in awe of this device that will be on AT&T Impressive. I like the new OS and the webkit and I am excited to see it come to my device.

Your review was great. I know those who have AT&T will love this device just like I love mine. I am glad RIM has finally come to give us better browsing and OS. I love BB.

on BGR's website they displayed an otterbox for the 9800 in one of their pictures. Obviously thats not what this is but it would be more durable and has a belt attatchment for those who want it.

Review you guys.. action packed with loads of great information and details, details, details..

Like most things new, well except when the 9000 was introduced, i'll wait till it goes through it's growing pains before jumping on the first issue.. but suffice it to say, this will most likely be my next phone.

want the phone more then ever now, but i will not get stuck on the spotty at&t network let me tell ya. guess i'll just have to buy it off ebay! lol

The only people who like this phone are Blackberry loyalists. I've had Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and now Android and I can say this phone isnt up to par with what's already out there on the market. It's slow and doesnt have a wow factor. 9800=FAIL!

Really dude? You read this entire article knowing that you hate Blackberry's and you love your Android just to tell us that "YOU" think this phone is a fail?
I'll tell you what YOUR A FAIL for posting here. Go to an Android site and post your thoughts there.

Have A Nice Day :D

I must say I am disappointed also with the 9800 phone, all the hardware and software are very nice but just like anything its only as good as its brains, and the brains are a processor that was fast last year, video recording that is sub-par to a phone released 3 months before it, small on board memory, and screen resolution that's just as good as the last touch screen release, I think rim is releasing this phone to sell black berry 6 and not everything else, so they release their new software with the first blackberry slider, a very smart move looking from a business perspective. But a slap in the face to the loyal black berry customers who want to see blackberry on top again (especially after android took there stop in sales) and a kick in the ass to all of us who have been on the fence about switching over to android.... WE CAN ALWAYS DEPEND ON THE STORM 3 HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

yes processor is at 624MHz, screen resolution is only at 480 x 360 and onboard memory is 512MB.... we lack in cpu power and screen resolution but interms of onboard memory its on par with every other phone out there including IPHONE4... i could really careless about screen resolution as long as what i'm seeing on my screen is nice and crisp.. even on my bold 9000 i have no complain on my screen res. watching play back on my bold 9000 is never really a problem as long as u know how to encode it properly... even if u have a 720p res thats been encoded incorrectly it won't come out crisp and clear.

Kevin, actually they did put Phone Options under Device Options underneath Call Management. I know they didn't put stuff like messages in there but thought I'd point it out.

Kevin you really went all out to present a really extensive review. I'm impressed. No other site took this kind of time or detail. A really great job. I'm loving OS 6 as well.

You did an excellent job at the review. If only RIM added a bit faster CPU and a higher resolution screen, and I would wait for this phone.

Its still a good phone, but with all the competition out there, its a loss for them.

Galaxy S For The Win. August 7, coming to Bell.

Kevin, have you tried the threaded messages feature in BlackBerry 6? You can enable it from Messages Options -> Display style set to "Group by Subject".

This is the kind of blackberry I've been waiting for; A touch screen with a physical keyboard and a competitive browser to go with it. This device and software is a clear indication that Rim is trying to appeal to the consumer market and I must say, I'm appealed.

This is the kind of blackberry I've been waiting for; A touch screen with a physical keyboard and a competitive browser to go with it. This device and software is a clear indication that Rim is trying to appeal to the consumer market and I must say, I'm appealed.

This is the kind of blackberry I've been waiting for; A touch screen with a physical keyboard and a competitive browser to go with it. This device and software is a clear indication that Rim is trying to appeal to the consumer market and I must say, I'm appealed.

This is the kind of blackberry I've been waiting for; A touch screen with a physical keyboard and a competitive browser to go with it. This device and software is a clear indication that Rim is trying to appeal to the consumer market and I must say, I'm appealed.

Your review mentioned one thing I've been curious about. Do the SD cards and built-in memory combine or do they lay seperate from each other?

The speaker quality vs the 9700 (more Bold 9000 "like"). Great News!!
I might just have to get used to a smaller (sliding) keyboard....

I love blackberry but they are falling way behind against the iphone and android devices. I have been waiting for a better updated blackberry device and I'm sorry to say this torch just doesn't cut it. I'm glad I jumped over to android with the captivate but as soon as RIM updates their phones with a better processor, more apps, and a better display at the very least, I would be happy to come back to blackberry again.

So its not as fast as the Iphone4 yet, but it probably will be within the next few OS releases....or with a Hybrid

can someone confirm this... isn't UMTS rated at around 384kbps? i mean all other 3G BlackBerry's from the Bold 9000 to date are HSDPA and 3.6mbps. Kevin any ideas? or am i missing something here...

I'll be the first in line to receive this phone at my local AT&T store so I can throw my apple in the trash. I have had nothing but problems with it from day one and will be happy to be a BB user for good!!

Awesome job on the review Kevin - the depth and detail is amazing! In December it will be 24 months since I got my 9000. I wish Rogers let me have the 9800 sooner!

Great review Kevin, but will you send me the Captivate when you're done with it? :)

More of what I expected from the 9800. It's a nice phone, but falls on it's face in a few places it shouldn't. It's a step up, but not the premium level device we expect from RIM. More like a nice LG or something. You said it best when you mentioned that it may get some upgrades as a "refresh" later. That's the RIM way these days; give it the minimum specs, try to get people to buy it, and then screw them a few months later with something that is what they could have done in the first place.

I'm still giving RIM until December to come up with something that is more impressive, or at least some plans for something. OS 6 looks great to me though, it's just the hardware that needs to catch up, IMO.

"That's the RIM way these days; give it the minimum specs, try to get people to buy it, and then screw them a few months later with something that is what they could have done in the first place."

How memories fade quick...

iPhone 4GB and 8GB first went on sale 29 June 2007.
iPhone 4GB was discontinued 05 Sept 2007 -- 2.5 months.
iPhone 8GB price was slashed by 33% on the same day.

iPhone 16GB released 05 February 2008, not even 8 months after initial launches.

iPhone 32GB released 19 June 2009, 16 months after 16GB.

Here's a news flash... Apple, RIM, Samsung, HTC, LG... they're all in business to make money.

No one complains when Apple releases new products that people feel they need to rush out to buy, eh?

Ok, i must admit, this was a very well written and very thorough review of the new blackberry device and system software. However, even after taking full stock of the fact that this in a blackberry site, this review is far to positive. Ill admit, i have not yet used the Torch. I used to have a blackberry bold 9000 and more or less loved it. Now,i've moved on from blackberry but that doesnt mean ive forgotten when they do exceptionally well, and what they needed to improve on. It appears that this new device, while address some issues, half-asses it and ignore many others. It takes blackberry into the modern smartphone world for sure, but putting this things low-res screen and 600 some mhz processor in the pool with the iphone (which i hate) and the Captivate (not to mention the other modern droid phones) is like leaving a seal in the polar bear enclosure. That, and the myriad levels of apparent redundancy in the OS is somewhat baffling. All this is not quite as baffling as how you guys at crackberry, despite clearly (and for good reason) being pro-berry people, could right such a positive review. Again, i have not had hands on time with the phone, so i could be way off base, but so far every other review i've read of this phone (most being seemingly non-partisan such as gizmodo and engaget) have largely been underwhelmed with this phone. With that said, after my largely positive experience with the bold 9000, i wish RIM all the best, i hope the prognosticators of their impending doom are off base and above all, i hope RIM can put out a device that will again grab my attention in the suddenly crowded feeding frenzy of super-phones. But, for the time being, the Torch is clearly not that phone.

Hi!! Could you do a side-by-side comparison of all the blackberry devices? Bold's, Torch, Curves, Pearl, etc! It would be really nice to see how they shape all new to eachother. Physical-wise.


Man this makes me torn between getting the touch for my next phone or a Android phone. This might be something to keep me from leaving the crackberry world.

By the way, to everybody bashing on BB's, remember blackberry is still the number 1 phone in America and the number 2 world wide after Nokia! Yes iphone is rising and yes Android is rising fast! But let me know when they'll be number 1! Until than SHUT THE HELL UP!! Thank you.

Adsoid is not really rising fast, is just a case of manufacturers changing to the android OS.


Let's say Samsung/Motorola/HTC were making 10 million devices one year with their own OS, the next year they switch to Android OS, all of the sudden you have 10 million "Android" devices being built and on the market. I wouldn't call that rising fast.

Android is "rising" faster only cuz it replaces previous OSes manufacturers were using.

Yes but only as OS, after you split that between all the manufacturers, Rim and Apple are still on top by far.

As I said, it's a matter of manufacturers simply choosing an ready made OS for their devices instead of developing their own.

And android phones are more advanced in hardware cuz that's all they have to compete against each other if they use the same software. Otherwise how would you differentiate them?

The manufacturers android devices are selling lots but what about their overall sales, have they increased?

The fact is there are 200,000 androids being activated a day now worldwide. Who cares if different carriers use the android OS it is awesum. Pffft ....Wait!! thats why RIM is the only one using its own OS and no one else is.Its so terrible it couldnt even win in the comp. not to mention the lousy resolution too. , hahahahaha you blackberry fan boy Didnt you watch the vids and read the review ,

Lol, you really are clueless, can't even tell the difference between manufacturers and carriers. Next you're gonna tell me Microsoft sells more computers the Apple.

Yes the manufacturers are using Android instead of their own OS, what you really mean is instead of Windows mobile. No manufacturers used their own OS for a smartphone other than Nokia and palm. So your argument holds no water. They wouldn't be selling that many devices without the Android OS. When people choose a smartphone, your choices are iPhone, blackberry, Android, palm, Nokia, or windows mobile. The fact that Android outsold blackberry is a big deal and shows how fast it is growing. It also shows how bb is losing marketshare as a third of all new Android users are for bb users. Me included. I loved my bb and bbm but overall device was lacking so I left. I continue to see outdated technology be released as new and is clear why more and more are jumping ship.

You're kidding right? All these manufacturers existed before android and they were selling phones. Do you think they still make all the basic phones but now a lot of androids on top of that? Most have changed to smartphones now.

Android is just OS, how long do you think before they'll run out of new hardware to invent at this rate and become exactly the same as each other?

Out of all one or two will come out winners, the rest will drop.

Epic review Kevin, you outdid yourself.

I hope you can try and explain a little on how easy it is to use the device only with the trackpad. This would give an indication for how OS6 works on non-touch devices.

Again, thanks for the awesome review!

This is death I'm so disappointed you can't even take joy in the OS and all the huge ups because they release a phone that can't handel it they NEED to put out the STORM 3 way erly with; one ghz processor, N receiver, HD screen, 1 gig ram(for us to feel safe), 4 gigs on board and a 4 gb micro sd and I'm sorry but leather back. Or else one one will pay 200 bucks and be locked down for 2 years. this phone is crap that slide show almost made me sick to I saw it after all the reviews and they make it look like it runs it like its supposed to... But wow what could a company be thinking o we have the EVO, Iphone 4 and the torch... slider... :( wow wow wow I know Kevin you are trying to save BB but my god this is sick how could you hold a press conference, put big black and blue roman columns in at&t stores all for an OS and release a slider... Again slider... That can't even run it what's wrong with this company? They want apple to buy them they obviously can't keep up... Because they don't think ahead they relase 50 devices all missing some kind of piece... Apple releases one powerhouse every year rim needs to ditch this CURVE and Torch bull and go with only the Bold, Pearl and Storm drop them all at the same time every year "([WITH THE SAME SPECS!!!])" If the wanna compete they can't beat droid on the always new always different front they need to seem smart and organized with the fastest most efficient phones but right now they just look like a company trying to stay afloat by cheating people out of there money by putting a phone on sale with other 200 dollar phones with less then half the hardware capabilities

This is definitely one of the best phone reviews I've ever read, it's very fitting for the best BlackBerry to release. You know, even though the Torch might not have the best processor or screen, it does have a pretty smooth and functional OS, which is what I definitely look for in a phone. While I won't be getting the Torch now, I'm anticipating it's probable release on T-Mobile in the future.

While many BB users are jumping ship to Android-powered phones, I'll definitely be staying put with BB. This new phone, along with BlackBerry OS6, will keep me loyal to BB for a while to come.

Ultimately, the Torch 9800 is an amazing phone, and it'll definitely be a huge seller for RIM, continuing to make it relevant in the smartphone market.

Ok and it dosent have good battery too?? OMG wow this phone show be 99 dollars max this is a bad phone. I mean I'm getting mad at my 9700 lately for being so slow I can't help but reach my girlfirends iphone 4 I'm all about the right medium I mean how could you fall so flat on byour faces right after apple dose and you have a chance to blow minds and you fail... they need to sell there OS to HTC and stop trying to make phones because there obviously retarded

It took 2 yrs to build this slow crap. Looks like a storm with a slider. Nobody is making sliders. Rim is way behind with everything. Their stock is even dropping. They have nothing new to offer. Latest selling gimmick is the bbm. U can't be on the phone to use it unless u r connected to wi-fi. Might as well text me. Lol. I'm gone

i'm surprised anyone even replied to that idiots statement. But thank you for saving most of us the trouble.

I guess some of you guys missed the point that this device has built at AT&T specification. I'm sure they didn't want a device in direct competition with the iphone4 and also I'm sure they wanted a device easier and cheaper to fix.

I guess some of you guys missed the point that this device has built at AT&T specification. I'm sure they didn't want a device in direct competition with the iphone4 and also I'm sure they wanted a device easier and cheaper to fix.

I am curious how fast is the Opera or Bolt browser on the Torch, can you please test it?

The fact that Kevin even mentions a refresh coming sooner than later for the 9800 should disgust everyone! This device is not even out, and he is talking refresh!?

That is horrible..

Dude, don't you get it? This device was built at AT&T request. It's not the best it can do. Once the new shape is out they can improve on it.

There's a new Android device just around the corner at all times, things are moving faster now days.

Referring to my previous comment above...

iPhone 4GB and 8GB first went on sale 29 June 2007.
iPhone 4GB was discontinued 05 Sept 2007 -- 2.5 months.

A phone not even one quarter old, discontinued or obsolete.

iPhone 8GB price was slashed by 33% on that same day. Caused quite the outrage, remember? People got $100 in Apple Credit.

iPhone 16GB released 05 February 2008, not even 8 months after initial launches.

Refresh Happens.

"blackberry couldn't win one" , oh well it tried just like the little caboose :)

not to mention the very poor resolution , haha looks like its already outdated , but nice review Kevin very detailed , the mods at AC sent me btw ha

I'm such a fan of slider phones - but why did RIM have to release a vertical slider? It's so narrow and "long" ... I would've preferred a horizontal slider - there is till now no better* slider/flipper out than the T-Mo Sidekick ...

*better in the sense of typing/messaging experience - other than that it has no chance compared to the RIM BB products

Because RIM is still behind the times...
Kevin even said that RIM had the "original" idea for the vertical slider back in 2008... and that is where it belonged.

Think RIM wanted to keep the one handed experience that most Blackberry users are familiar with. But if you ask most people who do a lot of texting and messaging these days, you will find that a horizontal slider with a full keyboard is what they all want - which is why you see even "dumb" phones with horizontal sliders these days.

It's another piece of the finest junk of rim.. that's all. we sould call it, PalmBerry..

My questions. are.. how many times a day we have to pull the batterry from this one..?

How many times it's gonna froze per day..?

How many apps, can we put in this junk?

I had 9 blackberrys in 1 yeaar. i regret change my iphone, 3g. for this name brand. honestly i regret it.. i don't know why i have to move to the dark side.. i say this because my use was limited with this kind of junk. but we are humans we make mistakes. and a i got my iphone 4g. and i'm so happy.

I never ever again go back to crapberry. damn i hate them they are so limited.. so slow. even play game always was impossible. the only good about this junks. us the bbm and that set.

so you guys stay in the darkness, with blackberry, or i should call it, PalmBerry..

Im'm up and running with my new iphone.. and guys you want and advice don't buy any blackberry, there better phones.. later i will post a pic of my blackberry after i trough it to the wall...

"I had 9 blackberrys in 1 yeaar"

That seems more like a user issue than a device issue.

If you won't ever go back to "crapberry", why are you on a forum site for people who LIKE them?

take your iSuck and go somewhere else.

at least the iSUck has 1Ghz processor, 720p recording, and retina display. The iSuck will hv a lasting impact on the way people actually communicate.

What if they release BBOS7 that needs 1ghz to run properly smooth and fast? they expect you to buy another phone?

Imagine Apple released Iphone 4 with 624 MHZ Arm cortex chip while the iphone 3gs has 600mhz arm cortex chip. The world would again blame apple for that mistake x10 just like the antenna problem.

I'm a huge fan of blackberry, i love my 9700, but i gotta say the 9800 is a just a dry joke.

you are another blind that think blackberry is the best shit in world. have you try the iphone, the motorola droid, my touch or htc evo. go ahead and try them..

like i said blackberrys they are a piece of junk, by the way how many times did you pull your battery out today..

and also i'm here because this is a free web say, and i believe in freedom of speech. so i can say whatever a wanna say.. and i'm just sharing my experience with everybody..

i'm still lol with this iPhone killer.. junk..

ps. go to hell boy..

I've had an iPhone AND an android.

I didn't like either of them. So I'm not "blind". Thanks though.


struggling with the fact that AT&T got the phone because THEY requested it?

like hey! AT&T requested and was involved in the process of designing this phone, but let's give it to Verizon. Silly people.

I am VERY disappointed in your ONE-SIDED, personal preference concerning the SurePress screen on the Storm2 ("So long SurePress!!"). You mentioned SEVERAL times throughout your review with the 9800, "...I'm happy to say BlackBerry finally has a proper touchscreen experience." It is well-known that you never could embrace the Storm series because of the SurePress, and how you preferred the physical keyboard. Now you say that you don't know if you could leave the touchscreen! Well, I am glad for you, but as the "head" of the CrackBerry Nation, you may not have to like a particular feature, but you should still embrace it as a BlackBerry and not put a feature down JUST because you don't like it. MANY of us LOVE it and hate the "tap on glass" experience a normal touchscreen requires. I'm just saying, express you personal likes or dislikes, but don't pronounce that BlackBerry now has a "proper touchscreen experience," as a King decrees a execution!

Yea, RIM that poor excuse of a CPU has lost me unless you can do better before my current contract is up.


the little circle above and to the right of the "blackberry" branding at the top of the phone... is it a camera?

Homerun for RIM.

It's amazing to me that even though RIM has hit a solid home run, there are still complaints about it's perceived weaknesses.

iphone up until recently didn't even have a flash or MMS or cut and paste. Droid to me is just a confusing mess.

Blackberry has always scored a homerun with a tight integration of form and function.

Way to go RIM.

If only RIM put as much effort into the Torch as Kevin did in it's review. One of the most thorough reviews I've ever read.Die,SurePress,Die...................

It's seems to me as if when RIM set out to build OS 6 and the Torch that they used their previous OS and devices to improve upon. Instead they should have been looking at the competition and saying let's use them as a benchmark and build something equal to or better than what they will have. So having said that rim built a better blackberry but the competition is moving ahead at a fast and furious pace leaving them to play catch up. Its gotta sting to see your stock value drop 2% - 4% on the day your brand new OS and flagship device are released.
Also if theres one thing I've learned about RIM is that when they release a new device it's typically has the bare specs to run it and is expected to be replaced within a year. So when you buy a device from them don't expect it to last long. RIM makes most of their money on hardware so the cheaper they can build it (low CPU, screen etc) the more profit they can make. Apple primarily makes money from their app store so they have more incentive to build longer lasting higher quality devices that can run all kinds of apps including 3D and are more future proof. Same with android google is making money from the mobile searches so they don't care about hardware so the different manufactures are putting out the hardware and they are savvy enough to know that there hardware needs killer specs in order to compete.

If this phone comes to Verizon than I would get rid of my Droid X for this phone. But if it stays on AT&T then its no good!!!

I have become a big fan of Blackberry for the fact that I can communicate with my family and friends in south America without incurring xtra charges thru the BB messenger app. However I previously had the Palm Pre and this Torch is basically A Palm Pre with BB messenger on it. No real breakthrough for RIM. However it looks like a good marriage. I cant wait to see it on Sprint so I can get the best of both worlds between my Palm Pre and Blackberry!

I just bought my first BlackBerry (Bold 9700 on ATT) about a month ago to use for work since we can no longer use exchange active sync and must now use BES... I have to say - for messaging and keeping in touch with work, calendar, etc... it's the best phone I've ever used - and I've owned probably every smartphone OS / Hardware combination on the market. Honestly - who cares about specs aas long as the darn thing does what it was designed to do without issue? It's a messaging device, not a TV, Xbox, or desktop computer. And from the messaging standpoint - the BB device I own now is peerless. The new slider looks like a great phone - I would buy one if I did not already have my Bold. And my god - all the bitching about AT&T... I've been on AT&T for about 7 Years in the Philly metro area and have never had any service issues worth complaining about. I think there is a lot of "me too" complaining going on around here.

Seems CB is being their normal biased selves again. Deleted my last post huh?

Why on earth would BB decide to make this exclusive to 1 carrier in the USA? Doesn't really make sense to have such a in demand phone with a much needed os upgrade, and only allow a certain person to use it.

This put the nail in the coffin for me, as I now tend to jump ship to android and try something different. I was waiting to do so to see how the 9800 was. I figured if os 6 was worth it, I would stay with BB. Guess even BB don't allow me to stay with them unless I pay a outrageous monthly fee to AT&T.

I know RIM is losing market share to Android and Iphone. So if they want to lose even more users, they can continue this crap. Ever wonder why there's plenty of android phones on all carriers RIM? Yup, you guessed it. So it can dominate. Ever wonder why Google sold the nexus 1 unlocked for anybody to buy? Yup, you guessed it. So it can dominate the market.

Good luck losing more market share and data fees to people leaving this platform Rim. As phone manufactures dig their own graves, just look at Nokia. Rim will be in Nokias boat soon enough.

When did that ever equal complaining?

These are current BB users who are not happy with what they got, these are your fellow users and abusers who dont accept just anything and you blind loyal berry-sheep bash them and say "YES RIM" low res screen, low memory "YES RIM" even Kevin said he wished it was there...get a life nerds

But it is complaining... come on "Get a life nerds"? I think the people who need to get a life are the people who spend so much time moaning about the specs on a PHONE. Most people who buy these things don't frequent tech blogs - and probably don't even know what the screen resolution an a particular device is... they just know the phone does what they need it to do or does not.

So let's see... The iPhone 4 can't make phone calls because they screwed up the design, it's made of GLASS (Yeah I want to put that in my pocket)... but it's a better phone?? Come on.

"You can finally enjoy browsing webpages on a BlackBerry."

Yeah, if you have AT&T.

ADIOS Blackberry. Thanks for screwing all the eagerly waiting people like me on Verizon that would have immediately bought this phone. But no, you have to pull your exclusive B.S.

When will phone companies learn they can make so much more money if they just release their phones to everyone?

You talk about the touchscreen keyboards but you didn't mention if the Storm and Storm 2 SureType keyboard with 2 letters per square carried over. Is this still an option or did they get rid of it? I really hope they kept it. I find it really easy to type with.

3.2 millions of iphone sales in 3 week, please this piece of junk wanna be the iPhone killer, ha ha ha ha ha.

Thank god i got out of the dark side, i went back to my iPhone, i regret switch my 3g for the storm 1 and 2. omg what a mistake, but we are humans and we make mistakes.

I never will buy another blackberry and this PalmBerry don't impress me at all. look for me another simple blackberry. with slow ass processor, limited memory, for apps.. etc etc etc.

junk junk junk. whoever got a blackberry know i'm not lying. just the simple fact that we have to pull the battery so many times a day, is F. ridiculous and aggravated.

I had high hopes for this phone, but the call of Android has been getting louder and louder in my ear. In my area, VZW is the only viable carrier option. I've been a blackberry user for a few years now, but I think I'm going to jump ship to the Droid X since there appears to be no chance of a VZW version of this slider anytime soon. I'm no apple fanboy, but I recently got an iPod Touch, and the web browsing experience blows my Tour 9630 out of the water. Can't wait for RIM to catch up any longer. Sorry, fellas.

if you do a lot of browsing on your phone, don't torture yourself using BB get another phone, i was the same way and when i picked up a decent phone with a decent browser and apps i dropped my BB as fast as i could. I really had no idea how horrible the apps for BB are. take a look if you ever can at the weather channel app or pandora app for other phones, you will be seriously ticked at how gorgeous they are on other phones and how smoothly they operate.

if you do a lot of browsing on your phone, don't torture yourself using BB get another phone, i was the same way and when i picked up a decent phone with a decent browser and apps i dropped my BB as fast as i could. I really had no idea how horrible the apps for BB are. take a look if you ever can at the weather channel app or pandora app for other phones, you will be seriously ticked at how gorgeous they are on other phones and how smoothly they operate.

yeah, man, get out of the darkness, trust me. i had 3 of the 4 generations of the iphone, and let me tell you i was a mistake go crapberry, i only used for the bbm, and that's it. i couldn't play games, or do what i do with my iphones.. now i got my iphone 4g. and still i say iphone is iphone..

and this iphone killer wanna be. won't be a match for iphone. just check the specs, and then check de app market.. please... this is another junkberry y new chassis. but same S.

Whoever buy it, will regret it. trust me..

So crackberry lovers, users and abusers, what do we think? I have the Bold 9650, and I love this phone more than my mother but the Torch with its touchscreen and portrait slide keyboard is very tempting with all the lookalike Android devices out there (a la big screen, four buttons, etc).

Is the Torch tempting enough to jump ship for AT&T? Why RIM would you give AT&T exclusivity?

Did At&T buy your website? Why don't you devote another 50 pages to this thing? What's the big deal? Another same ole' same ole BB device with the toy sized qwerty and another 2" of screen size real estate?

This is either a push by AT&T or desperation by RIM. It is not the second coming of the Lord. Nice phone if vertical sliders are your thing. The OS is great if you socialize all day long. I kind of appreciate browsing the web on something other than my 3" Storm2. Its a bit easier to view a desk top as opposed to going blind.

Just thought this review, to the expense of all previous reviews, went a bit over board for a device whose provisions are all not that earth shattering

When the original Storm came out, I was one of the first on my block, so to speak, to get one. I have big hands. Regular Blackberry keyboards didn't work for me. I found the Storm worked okay with the ability to use it in a landscape mode. I have always thought this made more sense. How may monitors and TVs are taller than wide. It appears that the screen gets shrunk so much on portrait mode, I wonder what the point is. I worked through the software issues. Put up with them waiting for the updates is more actual.
I don't see this as much of an improvement. Perhaps OS6 is worth it but I see no other reason to drop my money on this when it becomes available. Is no one else tired of small computer like gadgets? I got so tired of slow performance, tiny graphics, little keys, I bought an iPad. It has relegated my storm to being used as a phone and the odd BBM machine. Other than telling me when I have email as it happens, I don't really use it for many of the features that I now use the iPad for. What is the 9800 going to do to change my mind?

i'm guessing the low res screen is an attempt to save battery life. hey if it means i'm not charging my phone and the day is half done than i'm ok with that.

I have read reviews from engadget, gizmodo and the one here and have skimmed through a couple other blogs. This phone is getting panned, i haven't seen anyone other than crackberry give it a good review. At most this phone is state of the art for mid to late 2008. Sure some blogs agree it is the best blackberry out to date, but even then it is the worst smartphone out there on the worst OS out there even with 6.0 This phone is the reason behind the stigma behind blackberry users being only business types who only want a few specialized tasks, and to be honest RIM seems to think so as well. I feel bad for anyone who is so rampant about their loyalty that they have not tried another phone, i myself use a Palm Pre Plus and BB, it blows this thing out of the water and it is approaching on two years of being out. They really need to think about starting a completely new wing of their business to cater to a decent smart phone, not this antiquated slap in the face garbage.

Great review crackberry! Unless im missing some rumour out there, but I thought it was likely that the Blackberry Shield would have come with this product. Maybe in the future.

The bottom line for me with the torch is, if iphone 5 or any of the top android products came out with a slider, its going to be back to sqaure one for RIM. If the torch proves successful because of the presence of a physical keyboard, it wont take long for apple and android to join the wagon. Sure, the palm pre had a keyboard but it nothing compared to a BB keyboard.

Hey, its a keeper of a phone. Sounds like a much better construction than the Palm Pre.
Not crazy about sliders, but if the keyboard will work with my big butcher hands...I am sold!

They will probably bring out a better screen, better processor, battery life with the next model.


I have no problems with the Torch. I was a little skeptical about it being a slider and all, but looking at the pics & vid, its not bad. I'ma a die hard physical qwerty person, but I like having a touchscreen on there as well. It reminds me of when I had my Palm Treo. I do kinda wish the CPU was 1GHz, but i'm not complaining, i dont need my phone to be a freaking workstation. all this talk about screen rez, and how its not 720p is kinda stupid. I dont plan to watch tv on my phone. I dont even watch vidz on my phone often enough to care. One thing i do want RIM to work out is, being able to run apps from expandable memory, that would be great. But overall, I have no major problems with the Torch, except its on AT&T...smh

As and AT&T wireless customer since the days of Bellsouth Mobility, I think people are giving both RIM and AT&T a bunch of crap they do not deserve.

First on the service, every single carrier out there has issues with their service. It just appears that things are better if you're on another network.

Now, to the Torch. I've setup iphones (of all generations) for users here at work, and I've played with AT&T's weak android devices and I've been under impressed by both.

Yes, the iphone is pretty (Apple has the design down) and android has the abundance of apps readily available, however EVERY SINGLE one of the Android Devices and the iPhone have a problem that Blackberry doesn't.

The blackberry is an Enterprise device. Plain and simple. From a business stand point, neither iOS or Android can do the things that Blackberry can with BES. For business users, BB is the device.

I've tried using android for work and while its fun to play with (and it is fun, my 4 year old loves to play poke a zombie) the active sync features for android are severely lacking. It takes a $20 app to get anywhere close to what BB does with BES. The iPhone isn't much better.

I realize that to stay competitive, RIM needs to branch out a bit more and try to gain some of the general smartphone population, but their target should remain the business user.

From what I've seen of the Torch, its a good attempt and it will only get better.

I would rather have a phone with a slower processor that can do everything I need it to and do it correctly on one good charge than have a device that I have to rely on 3rd party apps and have it plugged in most of the day.

All of you android and iphone users, how often during the day are you killing apps (which you can't do on android with out a third party app) and plugging your phone in?

Have you even used a iPhone 4 and some of the newer Androids?

In my experience with the iP4 atleast, the battery life was pretty good and lasted all day, so if I were to get a iP4 as my main phone, battery life would not be an issue.

Maybe I just got lucky and got a special battery but the battery lasted just as long as my BB with the same amount of use and with heavy web browsing it still lasted a pretty long time.

P.S., I am not a Rim, Google, or Apple fanboy.

The BlackBerry is a tool... and it does what it does exactly the way it's supposed to. And the people that need that tool will be satisfied and won't give a crap what resolution the screen is.

The iPhone and most Android devices are consumer oriented TOYS. They do not compete for the same user base for their core markets.

in my Phone carrier i have owned 3 BlackBerries (curve, bold, storm) 2 old HTCs
and now 7 iPhones. That being said
Looking at the Torch at first glance it looks really nice, then i noticed the keyboard doesnt slide out landscape, only portrait. Sliding out Portrait seems it would be uncomfortable to hold and type with. Examining the picture above with 4 people each holding a torch, i can see the positioning of their hands, i could see a weight load problem with the device sticking so far out. Natural gravity would make that phone feel heavier then it really was. im very sceptical

Well thats my word, i look forward to holding one myself. Although i would never trade up my iphone4 to rejoin the blackberry world, i am still interested.

Love the comments. Personally, I thought this was a great and fair review...not having touched a Torch myself.

I don't understand the "haters" of the slide? The Droid (with a type of slide) ate almost everyone's lunch and the Droid II appears to keep that design alive....

The Storm1 was my first BB and is still my current phone for personal use. When asked, I've commented that it was a good first BB for me but suspected power users who are used to the physical keyboard might not like the touch as much (IMHO). I tried a Tour when it first came out and found myself reaching up to depress the screen to confirm a number of actions. While this might not be a 'perfect' phone, it seems like it provides the best of both worlds for those that like their BB's.

As long as it's on AT&T, it's not an option for me. I certainly don't think I'd rule it out of consideration in December if it were to find its way over to VZW (along with the iPhone).

Did anyone read the First paragraph of the article? If AT&T was involved in the development and idea of the phone, it was never meant to be the "iPhone or droid Killer." Why would AT&T want a phone that would try and kill it's best selling phone? AT&T saw a hole in the market and wanted to try and fill it. I think this phone will do it's job, RIM and AT&T will be happy. I'm sure RIM is cooking up something to compete, but this phone was never to be it, it just got hyped that way by everyone, except those actually involved.

Even if this is Blackberry fan site, we need to see the one can deny that this phone is underpowered and looks really dated compared to other competitor's offerings.
If I can get this phone under $79 with contract then I will think about purchasing, but there are way too many better options at that price point. Does people at RIM still think this is year 2008?

Love what I see. Do you think AT&T will treat us BB owners the same as they treated iphone owners, with an early upgrade? It would show that they don't consider us second class customers!

That was a great review of the device and I must admit, it does look like a great piece of kit, but the fact it is a slider is making me wary.
Sliders were til recently, old hat and I wouldn't have expected a slider to be the way for Blackberry. What with the sucess of the 9000 and 9700, I would have thought an up date of that would be the next obvious move.
I really hope they keep the long term Design going ala Curve and 9700 i.e. a simple keyboard and a screen, sure the size of the screen may be a pain, but it's nice and simple to use.
I'm trying to resist the iPhone upgrade at work and am now the only employe running a Blackberry, because my current 9700 is a good work horse and always reliable.
Also the Torch looks top heavy with the screen up, could imagine that would take some getting used to if you used the old school keyboard.
Don't get me wrong, once I have this in my hand (when it comes to the UK) I may find it great, but for now I'm sitting on the fence. Come on RIM, update the 9700!

Basically all I wanted to know about the 9800! Looks REALLY good! So wish I had this phone! Any news on T-Mobile getting this phone? Haha

No other 3G US operator will get it, so forget T-Mobile etc. I am angry about it as well. Bad job from RIM. I am switching to Android, my final decision.

I've read reviews on the 9800 from several sites including a review posted on GIZMODO. The reviewer summed it up best when he wrote.......

"BlackBerry isn't good enough anymore if you're comparing it to other smartphones. What does it do better than the rest? That's the fundamental question. And the answer is that for most people, in most situations, compared to Android and iPhone, not a whole lot."

That is one reason why I switched to a HTC HD2 on T-Mobile. Another reason is that I had a feeling T-Mobile would not get the Torch 9800 anytime soon and I would be UBBER pissed if I passed up on other smartphones only to find out T-Mobile will not get the 9800.

This review posted here on Crackberry was well thought out and well written but as one person posted "It is too positive." The 9800 is a nice phone, the touchscreen and WebKit browser are a step in the right direction but the 9800 still looks too "Blackberryish" and performance wise I just don't see it competing with devices like the iPhone4, EVO, HD2, Galaxy S........ect.

RIM has a LLLOOONNNGGG way to go to catch up!

All I'm asking is if and when will the other carriers have something better than this from blackberry? This phone is without question way way way over due and only going to AT&T in the US . . . . . Great technology, seems that blackberry can do so much more. . . . Seems . . . .

Nice looking device, and you will get the "Usual" bag of tricks that RIM provides.... and that is why I left, so tired of a "warn out your welcome" UI. I mean really, I have been on this site for years hoping to be impressed, I used to buy all the hype Kevin was selling, I even listened to just about every podcast from, but I needed to make a change after 8830, 8330, 9630.. it got stale. Went to droid because I used linux since the early 2000's and I love the flexibility for people that know recognize the environment. Do CB'ers really think that Google is going to let RIM steal it's thunder with this pre-Jurrasic era hardware? Do you think the programmers working at RIM are half as good as the guys Google got? Lets be serious there will always, always be a market for RIM in the corporate world, but end users that are hobbiest or casual smart phone users will throw up the peace sign. I loved BB for what it was, but Android is open and has a much brighter future as far as personal consumers are concerned.

Kevin - Awesome review. One of the most comprehensive I have ever read. Bravo Zulu.

RIM - update you calender, it is now 2010. If you want to put out something like that then put enough horses under the hood.

I went to the local store today and played with one of these for about an hour. I left very disappointed. I loaded the Crackberry site. The mobile site loaded fast, but even the mobile site was laggy when scrolling. Then I tried to load the full site. It took forever to render. I pulled out the Captivate, went to the browser, loaded, and still waited almost a minute before the Torch rendered the page.

I tried several sites, and none of them loaded well.

I have been a crackhead through two curves and two bolds. About 10 days ago I picked up a Captivate just to try it out. I figured that would give me time to adjust to the Android OS and make a fair comparison when this came out.

To me, the Captivate blows this out of the water. Its tough when a phone seems dated when its released. I know several of the folks at the local store well, and the reaction ot the Torch is pretty much universal - underwhelmed.

To be fair, it is the slickest BB yet on AT&T. And if you live only in the BB world, this may be the new king. But in the universe of smartphones, this one is waaay under spec'ed, IMO.

I really was hoping that I would pick this up and immediately feel the need to return the Captivate and rejoin BB nation. Instead, I am off to Android Central.

Coming from a several-years-old BB user, long-time gadget-lover and avid-reader I would like to express my opinion here about this phone (took the liberty to read all 155 posts).

First thing, I must say this is a great review. After reading such a lacking one coming from Apple-loving Engadget, this is a very complete review, with details that nobody has touched, and expressing a different, non-hating opinion, albeit quite positive. As I haven't played with the 9800 so far, I cannot say first hand about it, but after reading all over the web about it, it does seem to be the best BB so far.

Something that needs to be mentioned, RIM is known to be "evolutionary" rather than "revolutionary" in the smartphone market nowadays. So expecting RIM with some "magical" solution is somewhat pointless.

I would love to point out that although the 9800 is rocking a 624MHz CPU (Marvell PXA300) compared to the iPhone's A4 1GHz and the Captivate's Hummingbird (both of which are faster than Snapdragon), the results on performance were not that far away. Which leads me to think how optimized BB6 really is. I mean, for Froyo (and Gingerbread) the minimum specs are high-end already, and for the iPhone to get multi-tasking it required a complete hardware overhaul (while we have been multi-tasking with 512MHz and slower processors). I think you see my point, where indeed the new app-phones are getting better specs, it is impressive to see BB6 still holding its ground with a considerable slower CPU (and architecture altogether).

Next up to mention is the Webkit browser. It does yield impressive results. Again, we are talking much slower hardware rendering webpages and dealing with everything at the same time. Sure, the browser is miles ahead the older BB browser, it seems to be (as pointed out in the review) being held back by the chipset/CPU. I am quite certain that the same browser on the Galaxy S's hardware would blow Android out of the water.

For those complaining on the form factor, there is a little detail that has to be accounted. One of RIM's best features is the hardware keyboard. We all know that in order to have a hardware keyboard and a touchscreen together, many problems must have appeared, and this form-factor was the best indeed. For example, I find myself using the phone with one hand many times, and in landscape mode it would be impossible to BBM someone with only one hand.

Although not all is positive from my POV. I do think this 9800 is going to be like the Storm 1 to Storm 2 story, being the Torch more a of a test and then releasing a "fixed" version later on, what it should have been. I do not agree with this policy, therefore I am holding my purchase not to get an obsolete device.

My only gripes, as the tech-addict I am, are hardware-wise. I do prefer a faster CPU (I'd settle with the PXA310 at 806MHz) but rather prefer a Hummingbird inside with GPU alongside the always reliable connectivity options available. The higher res screen is a must nowadays, even in such a "small" screen (for today's standards on touchscreens) and a slight bump on memory, as said "to be on the safe side" would make the BB platform a killer. Industrial design-wise, I find the outer shell quite pleasing and attractive IMHO, with some unique-yet-familiar features we all know and recognize on a Blackberry. One thing, though, the smaller battery is a failure, considering how phones today eat up those 1400mAh batteries, and having the 9700 a 1500mAh, why choosing something smaller?

Lastly, I am happy to see more integration from the BB platform. I have grown accustomed to BBM'img people, and the all-around early-integration found on BBOS4.6, more of this is even better. This is me hoping for more functionality out of the advanced searching features and fully integrated apps.

Off-topic. I had a headache trying to understand some posts. Please use the auto-correct options on your browser...

I here people complaining about a phone having a slow processor, low res screen, and pretty much any other thing they can think of not to give a phone a chance. Can this really be true?

Listen, the fans here at Crackberry understand your need to justify your purchase for your shiny new toy that can play 3D games and watch HD movies...for two hours before you have to charge it.

You people (yeah, that is right...I did it) obviously have no idea about the reasons why you would use a less powerful processor or heaven forbid underclock your processor on your super cool 1Ghz Snapdragon you can make it through the day without a charge. I don't think it is a plausible trade off is being able to watch an HD video while tethered to a wall jack or even a computer. That is not freedom and I can get that from my desktop. It just doesn't make sense.

For God's sake fix your brains and stop being amazed by something that is shiny and appreciate things for what they can do well...especially for what a device like a PHONE is made to do. It is not a game console, video player, music player, etc. A phone should not have these as FEATURES that end up hurting their performance as a PHONE, but everybody goes crazy over them for some reason. It seems like this device is a trade off of what the technology is capable of now. RIM in my opinion is not trying to make a phone with three hour battery life that all the kiddies can pick up and charge on their MacBooks while sitting in class.

In closing, get over yourself and your idea of what is worthy and isn't because you wouldn't appreciate someone looking at your pointing out things that are wrong even if you have many great qualities. That is how you sound when you nitpick every thing you can.

Good job on the review Kevin. Too bad this phone won't end up on Verizon. Really want one but I have no reason to leave them and even though I would miss SurePress, I would probably still get one.

"...It is not a game console, video player, music player, etc. A phone should not have these as FEATURES that end up hurting their performance as a PHONE..."

So why is RIM pushing the media so much on this phone and BB6? Truth is, a smartphone is not just a "phone" anymore, as you are implying. It's a mobile device. I personally do A LOT more messaging, viewing, browsing, texting, and media stuff than I talk on my phone...that's why I have a that I can do all of those things. If I have to charge it every night (which I do and have always done, even when I had a BB) and then have to charge for another 60 minutes or so later in the day, who cares? It doesn't bother me one bit. And we're not "nitpicking" (us "people" that is)...this is a phone REVIEW blog, which means you give your impression of the device, good and bad. People want to know the downsides of the device just as much as they want to know the upsides. Nuff said...

The post that said "Evolutionary" instead of "Revolutionary" hit the nail right on the head. The Pros of this device are no different than any other BlackBerry unit, long battery life, push email, familiar UI etc. I just wanted something to be excited about. Kevin I will always read this site because I think you have an interesting point of view on BB, although bias, I enjoy reading it. I know BB will never move into a sector of the market in which total geeks will drool over them, but I truly feel, with no offense to anyone that is part of the CB community, that this device and even the new BB6 OS has gone stale. There is no creativity in what RIM develops and that makes me sad. All my Canadian friends are "think outside the box" type people, RIM hasn't even looked outside the box's windows. Wish they would there is a whole other world out there...

Yes, it's a low end screen. Yes, it appears to be sluggish. Yes, BlackBerry 6 seems to push the hardware to the limit. Yes, the hardware still reeks of 2008, which is sad.

But, it does address a lot of the things we complained about in OS 5. So, this kind of depends on how you look at things. Some call it a home run, some call it a complete fail.

I call it a push.

When you compare it to the Androids and iPhones, it doesn't impress. It’s not going to have anyone with a ‘Droid or iPhone wanting to get a Torch in favor of those handsets. But a lot of current BlackBerry users will love it.

This has more to do with RIM trying to stop the bleeding of it’s base rather than it is to go head to head with Apple or any Android manufacturer. Now, with the lack of BlackBerry 6 support for older handsets, we'll see if RIM can do that. They have alienated a lot of people (especially Storm2 users), and I'm not sure they can stem that tide. But I see this as more of a stop-gap for RIM while they work on the hardware in the next series (hopefully).

I wouldn't get one, but I can understand why someone would.

"When you compare it to the Androids and iPhones, it doesn't impress. It’s not going to have anyone with a ‘Droid or iPhone wanting to get a Torch in favor of those handsets. But a lot of current BlackBerry users will love it. "

Agreed and well said. Good post! And maybe that's what RIM is shooting for...

That's the new policy here at Crackberry

So if your sentence starts off with "it may not have a hi res screen or a fast processors but...."

Kill yourself. :)

That's what RIM should have been saying all along. It's a "meh" phone, at best...not stellar, doesn't deveate much from what we've seen before. Familiar is a good word for it, I suppose.

The sad part is that, if what Kevin says is true...that this is the best BlackBarry to date, it only shows how far RIM has fallen behind.

Also, I'm seperating my view on the Torch as a whole from my views on BlackBerry take it for what it's worth (which probably 'aint much).

/: )

It's not bias but honest...I was making a general statement for how we should move forward and push RIM. The consumers can make a diffrence, any good company will listen.

....model back in 2004, I think. To go from that to my Storm2 in 6 years is quite a leap. RIM is doing a fine job. Do I want more from my phone? Who doesn't, but to come from where they were to where they are is quite an accomplishment. The best thing ever to happen to RIM is Apple.

But honestly, that's like saying an Intel iCore 7-975 is a quantum leap from a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. Of course it is, and no one is saying it isn't when compared to 2004 technology. What we are saying, and a lot of people are alarmed about, is that RIM is holding to 2008 hardware in 2010. That 'aint good.

I know what your trying to say, I just think it's a bad analogy.

"'s not about MHz but rather it's about user experience..."

I totally disagree with this statement. MHz is one of the BIGGEST factors that affects user experience. I was a BB user for a long time and never once had a phone that was not sluggish. With each new OS leak that comes available, everyone likes to say "it's snappy" or "it runs faster" but when push comes to shove, in everyday use, every device I owned (Pearl 8130, Curve 8330, Storm 1, Tour 9630, Storm 2) was sluggish quite often. I can't understand why RIM wouldn't want to just go over and above on the Torch (a beautiful device) and go 1 GHz on it...not so that everyone can say "my phone has a gig proc..." who cares! But to enhance the user experience to an even higher degree. Honestly I could care less about what speed or what proc a device has...I care about what happens when I'm using the thing on a daily (more like minute-ly) basis. According to Engadget's review of the Torch (, it could have definitely benefited from a faster 1 GHz processor.

Overall, this is a definitely a great review and this is a great product coming from RIM. But having switched over to Android a little over a month ago, the Torch still doesn't hold a candle (no pun intended) to the high-end Android devices (Incredible, X, Nexus One). But that's just my opinion. If I was still a BB user, I would definitely want this phone as it is a huge step forward over every other BB device out there.

Does anyone know when will carry this phone? Also, is it just me or does the video capture on the Blackberry seem much better than the Iphone? Awesome!

PS Awesome review by the way!

I bet the next Storm 3 will be renamed Torch 9xxx, It will be a Torch without the sliding keyboard and surepress, so RIM can uss the same components and have a new addition to the Torch family....

Most likely the Torch 9800 with follow what happened with the Bold 9000. It will be exclusive on AT&T but when the update (Torch 2) is released, it will launch on other carriers, like what happened with the Bold 9700.

i think i need this phone, storm 2 is great but i dont like having to click the screen and typing on it is a pain, though ive gotten much better..

gonna guess about 500$ to buy it so i can unlock it for verizon

Over all this bb is great, like many people say , it has outdated hardware.... yet it IS compared to phones with all the new stuff. COME ON!! dont you think that maybe this is a very good phone if it has what it has and does almost the same as a phone with way better stuff?!?!!?!?!?! i say thumbs up ! :D

This review says all the apps from BB App World work. How you do reconcile it this this "unbiased" review (See Below). Endgadget reviewer says some of the apps don't work including all the Google apps. So how do you Mr. "I have a vested interest in providing a good review" Reviewer explain the discrepancy? Look, all I want is an honest review telling me what is right and what is wrong so I can make an informed decision. Your review glosses over the shortfalls, snail like processor speed, low resolution for screen, camera that produces poor video. I use my BB for work but I would like a chance to improve it. My 8830 works not bad, even in the Russian Federation. But I will not be getting the 9800. It is not even close to an iphone 4 or Droid. It is a real disappointment. And to give it to AT&T is a crime.
Quote from Endgadget review.
"but you can expect your favorite apps to not work with the Torch out of the box. RIM's new OS doesn't seem to permit much in the way of backwards compatibility, so we found ourselves high and dry for a few must-have applications (in particular, the entire suite of Google apps... and their web counterparts don't recognize the browser properly, either). We had quite a few issues with apps not working (or not working properly) on the new platform, and even though RIM has improved the App World experience, there's no differentiation in the store to tell you if what you're about to buy will function with the device."
Thank you

WOW...I need this phone. Should I win i will donate my current 8520 Curve to a deserving future addict in some poor third world country (minus the SIM of course)!

This has to be one of the best reviews I've read so far!!
Great work to the Crackberry people and specially to Kevin!!

I'm definitively jumping from my 8900 to the 9800 (So I'll stick with the same numbers but in different order :) )

Since I live in Vzla and we're not alow to purchase thru the internet I'll have to make a trip to the states to buy that phone and some other goods... But it will be worthwhile!!

I have to say that I used many cellphones (BlackBerry, HTC with WM and Android, iPhone...) and this BlackBerry will be my next phone that's for sure! Im using an unlocked Tour now and I love it! I will miss the trackball that's for sure!

P.S: Really nice Review!

If you want a touch screen and you are smart enough to be patient and wait for BB to do it right this sounds like a great phone.

BB seems to have addressed the quality issue of most slide phones. I look forward to a personal test of the touch screen. I personally do not like touch screens except in very few applications, I am a keyboard person on the computer also.

The camera not being able to do HD video is a let down. I work in TV and it is nice when viewers send in there personal videos of events and they are 720. Hopefully RIM will upgrade the video recording.

I just bought a Bold 9000 because I was disappointed with the trimming down of the 9700. The 9800 looks to taken back the real estate and more. Wish the 9000 could get an official OS update from ATT, but that is another post.

A touch screen is a personal choice and I think most BB users will have to head to ATT and see if the 9800 is right for them.

I have just read the slightly negative review in our newspaper THE AUSTRALIAN today, and personally, love the look and even though he said it fails against the IPhone and other Androids, for every plus he gave it ,he came back with two negatives to most of its features!! So i would love to win it to make my own mind up!! Would rather believe the review of an expert, than a mere mortal!!
At the moment i have a first and only Bold 9000 which i bought on EBAY for myself and my daughter, so we will have to timeshare this.

I want have a special present for my husband birthday in 15 august, I hope CB can give this torch for me. Cause this present will be Special

I could take the older model 624 MHz processor, but they blew it with the 360x480 screen.
Granted the display is overall larger than traditional half QWERTY designs. But due to physical keyboard, the primary orientation is portrait. For me it would be too much of a sacrifice to go down to a 360 pixel at 1.920" width (by my calculations) from the 480 pixel at 2.163" width on the Bold 9000.

I don't even need the higher resolution of the competitive products. Just a portrait slider with 480x640 (full VGA)resolution and size eqivalent to 2 adjacent Bold 9000 screens would be perfect form factor for a portrait slider.

I am not a blackberry lover but I have been using blackberry for the past 5 years and I am happy with all devices I've used.(never used a touch one before though) I have used the iphone 3GS for 3 or 4 months but it didnt rock my boat, so I sold it. In support to Noah's comments, how often will you actually record video on it? or use the viedo calling? or browse the internet for hours? or read books on it? or or or or or.. it's supposed to be a phone for goodness sake not a 007 gadget. not to forget,its battery isn't the best around.
If the OS makes GPS a better sat nav tool on the torch, I dont care about the fast browser or the super quality screen colours...

I finally had the opportunity to read and watch this review and I must say that I am truly impressed with OS6's progress vs OS5. Finally RIM is catching up with whats already out there. That being said, hardware and memory are still not impressive but I would definitely consider getting this phone solely because of OS6...the one killer reason that I wouldn't get this phone would be because its AT&T exclusivity. This should be available on other carriers.

I love my torch got rid of my iphone for this great piece of technology. I now have the best of both worlds a great touchscreen and this perfect keyboard.

It looks like RIM took a little of the competition's phones and made the Torch. I cannot wait to use one in my hands. People want the Droid, but not for the same functions as a Blackberry. I had a HTC Tilt and the Torch is the first phone that reminds me of it.

Crash and burn :( this was RIM's chance to hit it out of the ballpark.. But like always Rim is 3yrs behind
everyone else.... Im sorry i had the Curve, the storm, the Tour, and the Bold... I just jumped ship to the Droid X and I have to say I should have left aft the Storm... I do miss the BB sometimes but its night and day with Android... RIM i would love to come back but I think your the nxt Palm... Dont get me wrong people, I loved Blackberrys but all i did was waittttttttttttttttt Hell The Tour Just got os 5 3mos ago...I would come back in a heart beat to a BB but the time to step up has pasted i think...
Let the flames begin

just fantastic Through and Through Review. Kick Ass all over the place :)

Torch Looks badass :)

I left a comment when the comments numbered 181. They now number 199. But that ludicrous comment praising the review is still the first comment a person see. And I did not find any comment after 5 August. If the reviewer is going to seek comments he needs to put them in the comments section, even if they are not to his liking. The review sucks, it is inaccurate and the reviewer did not answer my question about why he says all the apps work on the 9800 w OS6 while cnet or engadget says many don't work, especially the Google ones. Crackberry is perhaps more like its name than it realizes. It is cracked. It is a silly site and a waste of time. I know this will not be printed but maybe the idiot reviewer will read this and know what the common people think of him. BS is still BS.

Okay so if this site is so silly to you...why the hell you still here? Why are you wasting your time if you don't like this site?
Please exit the room sir, no one wants you here more than you wanna be here.

Have A Nice Day :D.

Thanks Kevin for a great review.
Very detailed and didn't feel biased at all. It seems across the board most sites are giving this phone 4/5.
I appreciate the fact you guys did take the time out to show us a internet showdown between the torch/iphone4/samsung.
But for me surfing the web on my phone isn't something that I do more than maybe once or twice every 4 or 5 months.
I have a laptop for that lol and a netbook so no real worries about that.
One thing that is really pissing me off though is all the people who are on this site saying:
"BB sucks, Iphone/Android is awesome etc.."
No one is asking for your advice or opinion. This site is called turd sniffers.
So please take your Iphone loving Android tit sucking ass' and gtfo.

Thanks again Kevin can't wait for this phone to drop in Canada.
Though I don't know if I can wait another 2-3 weeks for this thing to drop lol.

We got to play with the new Torch all day today. Our overall feeling is that we are VERY disappointed. The buttons are sluggish and the with the actual keyboard being slightly recessed it is hard to use. However, the main objection is actually using it as a telephone. The tabs in the phone (on the screen) are totally unresponsive. We had to hit - tap them repeatedly to get them to respond and even then they only responded randomly. We tried this on four different phones all with the same results. Our feeling is that if you really want one of these, is to wait a while till they can fix some of these issues. Very disappointed.

Great review. I just killed my BB by dropping it in water - so had to get a new one anyway. Wish this had a real processor in it - but I guess it will have to do. I get the whole battery life thing - but hey - i would rather carry extra batteries...

I talked to a Verizon rep and he said they were getting the Torch but no release date has ever been set. It's a flat out universal device so it is coming to Verizon, calm down people!

Had it for a day. Love it. Great messaging and social media device. Slacker radio works pretty good on it. Haven't tried to download any music on it or yet. Still not sure if it will sync to my iTunes without any issues. Only complaint is that every now and then during a call, I get that metallic tinny sound (is that how you describe it?) The people I'm talking to say that I sound just fine. and they sound fine to me. But I hear it when I'm talking. Only happens every now and then. Nothing I'm going to lose sleep over. Anyway, that's all I have so far. Oh and the battery life is pretty good. I was trying to kill my battery all night long and it only went down halfway. That's better than my iPhone battery life.

Couldn't wait for the Torch to become available. Having gone through the Curve and the Bold, I was ready for touch screen. My phone is my office and a necessity to my day. It has to be reliable and a pleasure to use.

1st phone was a lemon, had to take it back tothe store. 2nd Torch is pretty good but I really miss the case - and none of the stores carry the case with the sleeper magnets. Battery died before 5 pm with moderate use.

The verdict is still out. Great new features but so far, I'm withholding my final decision...

Great phone, but wish I could use this with mine unlocked but can't solve the browser config problem...apparently new software is not supported by anyone except AT&T

What else do you expect on a BlackBerry site but a positive BlackBerry review? Biased.....

This phone is an abysmal failure and this is the ONLY positive review I have seen anywhere on the web. I can't believe there was actually an argument made that a faster processor would have been a detriment. There is a reason every single other smartphone maker out there is pushing for GHz+ CPU clock speeds: it's what the software, and the consumer, is demanding.

Every other review of this phone I've read has complained vehemently about the lack of power under the hood. Gripes about sluggish browser rendering speeds and responsiveness abound. I can't actually believe the screen only received a "HoHum" rating. The screen is physically larger than most other BlackBerry screens, yet the resolution has remained the same; there's no excuse for not upping the resolution, especially on a flagship device.

RIM has never skimped on build quality (save for the damn battery doors on the Verizon Tours) so I'm not surprised at all by its solid build. That said, OS 6 has been likened to a jumbled mess of a company scrambling to adapt their platform to a touchsreen interface. As it is, the OS has been seen chugging on the Torch; what happens when it's loaded onto a Pearl 3G which has half the onboard RAM?

I used to be an avid BalckBerry supporter and loved all of my previous phone, but I am now and Android user. A year ago I would have nothing else but a Berry, but now that is not the case. RIM's development has stagnated. They've JUST released a Webkit browser capable of a real display of the web? Something that the iPhone and Android have had for a long time? Oh, and it won't even be available for older handsets? Still stuffing a 600MHz chip into the device to run your "next-gen" OS? You'll get the same results putting a go-cart engine in a Cadillac Escalade.

Wake up, RIM. You have to do a lot better than this for everyone else to not eat your lunch. If this truly is the best BlackBerry yet, and the best you have to offer, you've got a lot of explaining to do.

I bought a brand new Torch on Sunday at the AT&T store and right out of the box when trying to set up my email account on GMail, I kept getting "Invalid User name or Password" I tried everything and could not get it to work.

I am an IPhone user and setting up GMail using and exchange server was a breeze. This is a bunch of BS. I was so excited on going back to Blackberry to get away from push email on the IPhone 4 and this really let me down. I am a pretty Tech savoy person and have never had that much of a problem getting my GMail account set up on ANY other device.

To make matters worse, I took the device back to get a refund and they charged me a 35.00 restocking fee for something they new did not work when I was at the store the previous day. I changed my plan back to the IPhone 4 and now I least have a working device to access my GMail account.

Well RIM , you let me down

When I was in the software industry, we would never rely on the first release of anything From Microsoft Office, through Modzilla Firefox. I should have brought that tenure to the purchase of the Torch.

There is a lot of potential to this product, however, the first go round is full of bugs! This is not unexpected and hopefully they will get enough feedback to release a new firmware update soon.

Sound - the sound on events or contacts or even playing an MP3 will stop. When you go to play an MP3, it tells you it cannot. A reset fixes this.

Facebook - There will be times that it cannot connect to the Facebook server. Again a reset fixes this.

Email - There will be times when my personal email will not come down. It's very intermittent. Again, a rebook fixes this.

The GUI interface - When you open the slider to put in your password, one has to hit the track pad twice to have it enter. This is constant. In addition to that, the track pad will not navigate over the screen for a delay of up to 3 seconds. Once this period has expired, it will work fluidly. However, there are bumps once in a while.

I have also, yet to post a picture to facebook taken from the torch. I can post status and what not, but not pictures.

Hopefully, RIM will get an update out to address these issues.


I think it looks great and the slider is a obviously a unique feature for blackberry. I have never owned a slider cell phone, however, this WILL be my first!

is a huge let down. I went to an AT&T store yesterday to physically test out a Blackberry Torch. My intent was to test it out and then buy it.

RIM totally messed this one up. How can you come out with a next-generation cell phone and not have at least a 1Ghz processor and a better resolution screen? I could have dealt with some of the lagging from the web brower because I know that software updates can improve performance. The screen resolution was average at best. What I cannot deal with is comparing current cell phone screens to this one. What I cannot deal with is an operating system that can only get marginally better because of limited processor power.

OS6 is a winner for me and so is the slider keyboard. I like how OS6 incorporates a lot of good features. I could use the keyboard just as easily as I could with every other blackberry I have owned, including my 8530 for work.

Lastly, if this is a next-generation business phone, why not consider a front-facing camera? This is not just for "toy" cell phones.

I use a blackberry for work but I wanted one for my personal use again. I wanted the freedom to load and modify a blackberry the way I wanted to. I have owned a 8330, 8530, 9000, 9630 and 9700 (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint). I ended up buying an iphone for now because of the way it shows folders for Yahoo, Gmail, and Mobile Me.

RIM, you get an "F" for trying to catch up to the rest of the cell phone world. Get a clue and do not make yourself obsolete. Business is a steady flow of cash, but don't miss out on those of us who are business customers who eagerly want to be personal customers as well.

I think the OS 6 is making all the action in torch, beside OS 6 its just another BB, I agree though on some hardware upgrades though, but this PS6 really rocks, cant wait to get it on my 8330 . I know it wont happen soon lol
thanks for the video CB team, you guys are awesome.

A lot of this phone is really cool. But the lack of innovation in display technology, faster processor, or better battery life is really disappointing. Lock-in to AT&T also kills it.

I'd really like to see a groundbreaking BlackBerry, but the 9650, 9780, and 9800 aren't huge improvements over previous models.

After reading all the comments from iphone, droid, BB users. I did just switch to the Torch from my Bold 9000.


If you're thinking of switching from iphone or Droid to BB. Don't do it!

Loyal BB users love the RIM/BB only features and the NO BullSh!t email capabilities. And those of us who work or play with other BB users, love sending pics, voice notes, contacts via BBM and wouldn't know what to do without it. THAT'S ME!

"I", just like some others have tried the iphone. Used it for 29 days (which felt like 500) and couldn't wait to go back to my, Spellchecking, Cut- n- Paste, Add To Contacts, reliable Blackberry.

That's the plain truth! Blackberry is for the business person first. iphone and droid is more for play. All are great phones depending on what you want to do with it.

Look how far we've come from the Startac?

...between waiting for the Pearl 9100 and this. agh! i think i'll wait it out. my 8900 can soldier on for now.

hate the 9800 with a passion, after having it for a couple of days.

a heavy flimsy brick that dreams of being an iphone and bb at the same time, achieves neither.

really have no clue what all the rave was about.
my respect for RIM is ruined.

(back to my 9700, wish it had more memory and faster processor).

What they SHOULD HAVE DONE: put some decent proc/memory into 9700 and tweak the OS a bit. would've had a winner. me sad.

The phone looks awesome! But it sucks that its on AT&T. So I wont be getting one as long as that's the case

i recently got my torch about 2 weeks ago i would say and i switched from verizon's bold 9650 which is awesome and i can say i find myself wanting it back sometimes due to the silent and soft keys and not having to slide it up but then again OS 6 is awesome i can get on more sites without it asking me for java script and the browser is alot faster which was never a problem unless i was in a hurry lol but i have come to love my torch plus i cant wait to buy the white housing oh white is so sexy on a bb i almost got the 9700 when i switched to at&t but thought let me try this new one and im glad i did (some days lol) but then again no one has created the perfect phone maybe in the future they will do a personality test to see what phone fits u best. If blackberry would let me custom build my phone i would so pick the torch but w a sure press touch screen bc i miss the compact qwerty board even though its on here too but sure press is awesome, keep the pinch zoom i love it but have the bold 9650 soft silent keys def would keep the trackpad put the left convenience key back bc i need voice command when driving but i need my camera button too but i could compromise and would widen it a little bit lk the bold 9000 then it would be perfect and the option to have a sure press screen, or a glass lk screen or a screen u can use ur nails on would suit so many ppl! so blackberry if you decide to create 3 diff models or my exact model w the sure press i better get some credit and one free lol serious though and pls make one of white and black :) but ne ways i do love my torch and its getting better everyday so if ur wondering whether or not 2 get it go for it!

I have had the droids and tried the iphone but blackberry does it for me it all depends on what u want out of a phone i need my emails asap and i love bbm i get facebook just the same as any android phone or iphone and RIM may be a bit behind w speed of the net but the torch is a big improvement if u have no business then go w android for social and shopping and all the little tricks it can do. i run my biz perfectly w my bb and android would send me my emails a day late and that made me some dollars short if ya feel me on that! overall its all about what u need in a phone. So if ur not sure what u want write a list of the options u want then go to the store and try it out and whichever phone gets the most check marks is the one you should go with that would be the easy thing to do instead of stressing yourself about being stuck w a phone u hate for 2 yrs or forking out the extra cash to switch phones. Good luck to everyone deciding on what suits u best for me its blackberry baby!!!

I will definitely get the torch, very nice looking phone and the 5.0 mega-pixel is awsome.
What kind of zoom does this have and can you do a sports type picture where it takes 4 pictures in a second?
Also can you zoom with the video?

Very nice!

Great review Kevin. Having owned a Curve 8310 and Bold 9700, and now the Torch, I can say that the Torch is awesome! It's the best of both worlds, touch screen and still physical keyboard. I enjoy mine more every day as I get more and more used to it. I use it mostly for business, but love surfing the web on the touch screen when not working. Good Job RIM!

I'm so interested by this phone!! especially by the physical keyboard and the Touchscreen keyboard!
Is that mean that i'll be able to text with the touchscreen keyboard (landscape)?

Sorry for my bad english!

yes hun it has the landscape touch keyboard when u turn it sideways either way. upside right you have 3 choices of touch keypads you want compact qwerty or full qwerty and the dial pad keypad. you'll love it.

for the longest time i was debating switching over to iphone, just because i have the macbookpro, the ipad, the ipod touch... i wanted to streamline my syncing of information. when i lost my 8900 curve this past weekend, i said i'd try the torch. i had it for 2 days and i am completely in love with my new phone so much that the thought of switching over to iphone has completely been pushed out of the picture.

the torch has everything i love about the iphone AND all the superior functions of the blackberry. the only thing that kind of sucks is that some of the apps i'm used to haven't caught up and released updates compatible with the 6.0 OS yet. oh well, the new functions that Torch has totally outweighs the slight inconveniences that incompatiblity has caused. the #1 thing that is noticibly improved is the browser load speed. that, and the torch is PRETTY. XD

I'm using the Torch now, it's great! So much faster than other bbs I had (9000,8100,8900). OS and touch screen is amazing, not as smooth as iphone, but still amazing.
Pros: Best BB out right now, love the design and solid feel. screen, photos, speed is great.
Cons: I wish it had a click (like iphone) when typing on the touch screen, so I know that pressed hard enough. Batt-Pull restart is super fast sometimes, but has froze during restart a couple times for me. Battery last only a day, 1.5 days max :(
I rate this phone 5/5!

Another Great review! Im a kinda expert when it comes to these things! The Palm Pre's build qaulity is horrible, it cracks when theres alot of use of it, I tested this out at a att store and the build qaulity is very good!, the camera was ok, the Apple Iphone 4 camera is horrible and the attena issue is horrible too! please note that we are comparing Apple and Blackberry, Different Brands!!

So i just re read the torch review after reading the bold 9780 and getting to the open GL part. Well i have to say i'm not too happy after i realized that my new so called latest and greatest torch didnt even receive open GL chipset. I think thats BS when the torch is supposed to be there flagship super great blah blah. Anyways i really hope RIM really puts some thought and with there new team members the start kicking some apple ass !!

Hi guys, I own(ed) - stolen - a 9520. My telephone company (Vodafone in Italy) does not provide anymore the 9520, it provides the 9800 instead.
I was happy with the 9520 (I owned previously a 9500), given that my primary use was an heavy use of email and phone/notes.
Yes I realized the web browsing was a pain and I read that it is now improved.

Can any of you make a comparison 9520 vs. 9800 as a user? Thanks!

Nice phone, I find the slide out keyboard a bit awkward to use because of the raised rim around the outside. It keeps you from getting your fingers on the alt button when using it to activate the numbers when typing.

Other than that it is easily the best BB yet!