BlackBerry Torch 9800 Review from the perspective of a Power Businessman

CrackBerry Idol - Dave P.
By Kevin Michaluk on 30 Aug 2010 09:59 pm EDT

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Review - Power Businessman Perspective

So you’re on the go and want to stay connected to your business information and communications. Well what better choice for both security and ease of use than the new BlackBerry Torch? It’s a touch screen world phone featuring the new BlackBerry 6 operating system, minus SurePress, plus a slide-out qwerty keyboard.

Whoa, that sure was a mouthful.

In this review, I am looking at the Torch as an experienced business user might. I will be tapping a more corporate perspective and covering not only my first impressions, but also how the Torch holds up with messaging, phone use, and other industry applications all in the name of greater productivity. Or so we shall see ...

First Impressions

My goodness, this thing is heavy. And then, my goodness, this thing is tall! Those were my first thoughts even before powering the device on. It’s great to see more consumers choosing BlackBerry for the speedy email, well-connected BBM, and superb call quality, but yikes, this thing is a brick! Open the slider, throw it overboard and anchor your boat.

Okay, okay. Personal preferences aside, the Torch’s size and weight are similar to that of the Storm 2. And while the Storm devices have never been my favorites, they are still BlackBerry. You know, once in the family, always in the family. It took a few days to get used to the Torch, but after giving it the ol’ college try, I realized it wasn’t all that bad. Let’s dig deeper...

The Hardware

    Torch to USBKeyboard (Physical) - The keyboard felt a little cramped and sunken, or deeper, when comparing it to the Bolds and Curves. Be aware that it is actually on a lower plane than the sliding touch screen. You might have to stretch tendons and retrain your fingers before achieving a normal typing accuracy. Also, you may need to be double-jointed in order to type on this thing while it’s is plugged in to the USB cable (see photo).
    Trackpad - The trackpad is perfect for anything that requires precision like doing a copy and paste, as well as navigating text while editing. The lack of a tracking mechanism on other touch screen smartphones is one reason I prefer not to use them. I simply cannot facilitate doing business in a functional format when fumbling to highlight specific characters on the screen.
    Turn On SureTypeKeyboard (Virtual) - Two words. SureType FTW! If you’re going to use the virtual touch screen keyboard in portrait-mode be ready for it to feel cramped. I suggest making the switch to using SureType in this instance. To change this setting go to Options > Typing and Input > Keyboard > and then change the Portrait Keyboard Type: to Reduced.
    Also, using the on-screen keyboard would be a clever, stealth-like choice during important meetings where the less clackity-clack the better.
    Slider Mechanism - As shown in the video above, the slider works very well and feels solid enough. You essentially get two styles of BlackBerry packed into one! And when asked, I find myself describing the Torch as Storm-like with a “surprise” slide-out keyboard. The downside to this form factor is that it takes some getting used to and I found myself constantly pressing the screen by accident.
    Accelerometer - I don’t recommend even pretending to use the Torch while driving or lying down. The accelerometer is highly sensitive to positioning, especially when compared to the Storm. It is nice, however, to see this level of responsiveness, and too bad there aren’t some awesome 3D games to go along with it. As noted in other reviews, when the slider is open, exposing the keyboard, the display is locked in portrait mode.

The Software

    BB6 - I’m disappointed to be forced into using the default screens. Who really needs another page that mimics the Media or Downloads folder? Creating an icon for a special contact, BBM group, or app on the Favorites screen might be useful, but checking the Frequently Used screen for an auto-generated icon, never. I say just rearrange your All (or Home) screen with the icons you want. And maybe it was a design choice, but I found the operating system to be sluggish and buggy, especially when swiping. Speaking of bugs, sometimes the keyboard shortcuts worked; other times I was forced to use the touch screen. This was lame and inexcusable. I’d like to assume RIM will fix these, but maybe they’re only specific to the Torch experience.
    Torch Phone ScreenPhone Calls - The video above shows how the slider mechanism can handle calls by sliding open to answer or closed to hang up. It’s kinda neat, but oh so very 10 years ago. As seen in the screen shot, the new BB6 phone software looks very similar to a Storm and gives you easy touch access to Dialpad, Notes, Home, Calendar and Contacts while on a call.

    Unfortunately, the speakerphone is far too quiet. I had to max out the volume, even when using the handset. If you are going to be making business calls in a boardroom, this won't fly.
    Messaging - Scrolling between messages with a simple flick of a finger was a joy. However, I was unable to copy and paste while reading specific emails.
    I had to forward the message first, then copy my chosen text from the sent email. This frustrating process negates even having a smartphone. Note this as another necessary bug fix.

Corporate Use

In today's fast-paced, global business environment, professionals must make quick decisions from any location. Being able to access information in the field is imperative, and with the platform RIM offers, you’re better equipped to do so. The always-on, always-connected BlackBerry Torch smartphone is not about killing time. It's about getting stuff done.

Boy, that sounded way too much like a commercial.

Brilliant copy writing aside, did you know that if you’re on a corporate BES, you can potentially access your company’s private intranet? You are practically able to surf the internal network, even look up names in the server address book, just like sitting at a desk in the office ... except all from your BlackBerry.

DocumentsToGo Lookup Here's where the Torch's additional 4 GB of internal memory is a real bonus, especially when you’re looking to do document editing on the device. I tested this using DataViz Documents To Go products to remotely download and view files stored on a business intranet site. The 3.2 inch touch screen was certainly welcomed real estate. In this one instance, having both a large touch screen, trackpad, and full qwerty keyboard allowed the Torch to shine in all its glory.

Real World Views

Let’s face it. Businesses today have more choices when it comes to choosing a smartphone platform, but I’ve consistently witnessed them stay with the BlackBerry platform, and for good reasons.
  • Speed of Messaging - especially when their business relies on the internet or email for filling orders.
  • Calendar & Contacts - collaboration among staff when using RIM’s corporate BES or free BES Express.
  • Extra Apps Need Not Apply - sure, the iPhone and Android smartphones currently offer a larger pool of apps, but the BlackBerry device is an instant connection to your network.
The Torch doesn’t stray from this BlackBerry experience; it may actually offer you more, but to what end? From a technology support standpoint, no matter how enamored you are with the Torch, I don’t think having all the bells and whistles equates being more productive. And if a client asked for help with their Torch, I may even cringe. I feel the less options you give a user, the better.

After listening to the latest CrackBerry Podcast (episode 057), I feel my experiences with clients are consistent with what the CB Team had to say. Whether or not you like the Torch is based on personal smartphone preference and expected usage. It comes down to a device vs. operating system vs. usage debate. What is too big or heavy for one person might be perfect for another. And how some consumers handle email, text, and IM is completely different from others.

Personally, I want to experience BB6 on other BlackBerry models. And I agree with other enthusiasts who are still on the lookout for a 9000 sized device plus touch screen. The rumored 9900-Pluto-Magnum whatever-you-want-to-call-it would/will be one sweet BlackBerry. Then again, simply having BB6 on a Bold 9700 appears to be awesome, even without a touch screen. This particular OS/device combination, from a business use perspective, gets my professional recommendation. And if you haven’t seen what BB6 looks like on a 9700, go check out this post:


I used the Torch as my main device for five days before switching back to a 9700. Two days later I picked up the Torch again and realized it’s not as bad as I originally experienced ... until I started using it. Overall I found it heavy and the BB6/Torch combination too bug-laden. BB6 aside, the Torch in concept is a cool BlackBerry, and shows RIM is capable of producing a unique piece of hardware. From a business standpoint, it is capable of doing all the things a BlackBerry should do across multiple industries. I just feel RIM has crammed too much into one device all at the same time, and in reality, it’s not one I will regularly use or recommend. 

Reader comments

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Review from the perspective of a Power Businessman


Kevin (aka Ryan Seacrest): OHHH BOY. Here we are in the FINAL ROUND of CrackBerry Idol. All of the finalists are winners in my book to have made it this far, but in CrackBerry Idol there can be only one winner. At this point in the game the expectations are high, so the judges will be doing what they do best in the finals... judging (in case you were wondering, each judge goes through the review independently and submits their comment without knowing what the other judges are submitting). Dave P. is first up in the finals, reviewing the BlackBerry Torch from the perspective of a Power Businessman. Let's see what the judges have to say about his review.

CrackBerry Idol Judges

Dieter: You've found a lot of small details to point out and nitpick where necessary - it shows a real knowledge of BlackBerry and your enthusiasm for it. Unfortunately, a business user is your target audience here and they're all about the 'Executive Summary' written just for them. *I* love the little details, but I'm a smartphone nerd. The review does have a strong bottom line in it, but it gets a bit lost in details I don't think a CEO would worry about.

Georgia: Dave, you sure can put together a well developed written review and video. You touched on many important aspects but you could have driven home more points that are oriented to a business perspective. Talking about how business applications function on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 would have nice to see. Good job.

Craig: Dave you have a good review here, but from the corporate perspective, for some reason I felt like it was incomplete. I can't put my finger on it really. Watching your video I felt like I had ADD, and I'm not sure that focusing on a phone call was that key to the business user. It's important sure, but so is document reading/editing, email and calendar integration, and intranet access via 3rd party apps and the browser. I know it is a lot to try and touch on in 2,000 words or less. I'm not sure if you have access to this but I would have loved to have seen how browsing SharePoint looks and how doing a free/busy lookup works, etc. All those enterprise features

From what I've read, it's the proximity sensor to tell the screen not to react to input when up against your face.

The Torch is the third blackberry I've owned. I upgraded from the original Bold 9000. It took me a couple days to adjust to the touch screen, but after a week of using the torch I can now say this is the best blackberry I've ever owned.

This review had next to nothing to do with what a corporate user would experience: I need to access my calendar quickly and easily and schedule appts with multiple colleagues; I need to be able to sort my email quickly to look for specific users; I need to be able to conference call multiple users easily; I need to be able to open up PDF files in their original format, not a text-rendition.

So how would a Torch allow me to do this better than the current crop of Blackberries? The review mentioned nothing about this.

Horrible review.

The tone, the quirks, the whole thing....thumbs down for even putting the word business in the was not a business review in the slightest save mentioning the conference calling (which every berry can do).

I appreciate the effort that may have gone into it, however this review didn't live up to its title.

The first thing I thought when I read this title was, "Cool, Crackberry found some CEO to do a review for them" ... Not! Two of my uncles are very well high ranking business men within their industries, both use blackberries, and both barely use anything except email, phone calls, and calender. Just my opinion. Please don't write a review from a mechanics point of view next...

I have to agree. I felt like the word business was added in in the narrative to make it a business review. And the "corporate usage" section.....why not have put that first?

However, the likelihood that this Torch could not be connected to a BES for the review (I am assuming he was not allowed to do this at work), sort of puts this review at a disadvantage from the start.

All that being said, the attention to detail was great.

Thank you for the comments and consideration.

For the record, I did poll several executives, asking them how they typically use their BlackBerry.

Also note, I was not supplied an AT&T SIM (so some services didn't work on the review device) ... I was also not provided a BES to properly test corporate maneuvers.

I watched the video review first and can't help to notice how the eccentric energy of it also flows into the written review. It not that the written portion was bad but the task he was given seems to be rushed as an ending note instead of the central focus. Unless business people these days solely rely on speaker phone…an the portion of the video that displays the sliding mechanism was just hard to watch. Seriously who is that rough on their phone?

I honestly expected this review to be super biased since its a BB site and how well RIM probably treats you. However I have a lot more respect now as you were brutaly honest about the phone and its short comings.

I hope you can continue this trend and really challenge RIM to develop solid devices coming down the line

Thank you djnick for this comment. I realize that choosing and reviewing a smartphone can be biased. I was trying to convey what I've heard from a few execs who already had a Torch and weren't pleased with their upgrade.

I'll still take that any day over your android garbage. Since you like links heres a nice little write up from today about the future of mobile security.

Your beloved Android OS is gonna be in the crapper. And instead of a 1ghz cpu you'll need a 2ghz since you'll have to constantly be running spyware/malware/anti-virus 24/7.

Google needs to give there head a shake and start making a secure OS instead of pretty OS.

After a few tweeks the issues with OS6 and the configuration of the favourites/all/media/etc screens can be resolved. Early days I say! Looking forward to getting my Torch.

This review def didnt fit the bill. The video was not polished at all with random volume fluctuations. Im not a fan of the cutting and fading of scenes either. For any review the video wasnt very good. Written review, there wasnt much there. It seems you could have re-used those words for something else instead of techy talk. I do not think this review was your best and it is disappointing that this is IT.

The review was a good effort. Not sure how much time the reviewer had to research and develop a review, but it was overall decent. It lacked some things, but most reviews I read do.

I'm pleases to finally read a review tailored to the business user. But, there seems to be muck left out, as if the review was rushed.

I know this CrackBerry Idol, so you get more sympathy from me.

I hope you guys segue this into more business oriented reviews.

I use the Torch as my primary (non BES) phone and it is awesome.

I tell fellow  user that the 9800 essentially is a 9700 with a super large sceen. Flit he's yes, but combined with Google mail, contacts and calendar this device is a power house.

WTF was that, Dave?! Excellent write up but that review did very little to help the business user evaluate the Torch. What I take away from the video is that the Torch is one ugly phone, lousy speakerphone, but slider function is sturdy. What in the world does that have to with business use? You could have given that review to a couple kids at the movie house while you're sitting waiting for the movie to start. Your writeup was well structured but light on business utility of the device.

I was livid when I read that the Torch wasn't coming to Verizon. After I played with the phone in the ATT store, I lost most of my interest in the phone. It was the physical keyboard and form factor that didn't meet my expectations. I can appreciate your findings in the device itself, but your job was to describe the device from a BUSINESS USER perspective. I think you failed miserably.

Perhaps you already won a job on the team, because I just didn't see the same effort and excellence applied to this review as I have seen from your previous reviews. It was a major disappointment for one of your biggest fans. I wish you well, but from what I can tell from your video, each contestant is doing the review from the perspective that most meets their personality or their image they presented during this contest. I have to wonder if this review can measure up to the others.

Thank you for the comments. I will take them into consideration for future perspective-like reviews.

For the record, the exec I polled about their BlackBerry usage all stated they drop their device too often causing it to break ... hence the slider test.

Also note, I was not supplied an AT&T SIM (so some services didn't work on the review device) ... I was also not provided BES access to properly test corporate maneuvers.

That aside, I did what I could given the time, word count, and other life constraints. We're not on American Idol where the contestants spend a week doing nothing but prep for their performance.

Possibly one of the worst reviews I have ever experienced... How was the from a business user perspective?

Terrible video review! Maybe next time knock off the ridiculous comedy routine, try to sound less like a goofball radio host and get serious.

Durning the presentation, it clearly showed that the network id/tag was "T-Mobile - Crackberry". Yet it had an att logo background/wallpaper.

Also during the speakerphone presentation, the "T-Mobile" network id/tag was visible in the top left hand corner.

It also showed lowercase "edge" as the network connections.

It this phone only available to att, or is it also available to tmo customers as well?

Good review!

Thank you for your comment walle7388.

The Torch is exclusive to AT&T, but the contestants were not given AT&T SIMs for use on their review devices, so I had to put an active TMobile SIM in it's place and unlock the device. This meant that some services did not work, like only having EDGE instead of a 3G signal.

sadly this was a bit lacking for me, i would of loved to see what the HTML email looked like (email being big in business) and how the today section could help me see my itenerary in one go. The video was also a little lacking sadly, the inital audio sounded a little muffled, and some of the scenes were cut a second too soon so some words got chopped off.

Overall it was a decent review, however i feel from a business user perspective it didnt reach out and grab me.

BBThemes, good points. Showing the BB6 HTML email was on my list but got edited out of the video due to time constraints.

Plus I was not using an AT&T SIM (so some services didn't work on the review device) ... Also, it would have been nice and appropriate to have had access to a corporate BES to properly test corporate maneuvers.

Crack on!

Added comments after watching the video......

I too did not like the fade transitions. Just didn't feel very Crackberry to me. Also, I was taken by surprise by the audio quality. Granted, not everyone can afford the quality microphones that the Crackberry squad likely uses, so I guess I can ignore that. But I was also taken aback by the fading out volume. I am guessing your mic or software has some sort of auto on/off feature that tries to save power by shutting off when it thinks there is a pause/no sound.

That's unfortunate.

Buuuuuuuuuut, again in your defense......The Crackberry guys, for this final round with everyone doing a Torch review, should have leveled the playing field and provided everyone the same microphone and recording software/setup to use. Then, and only then, can we compares apples to apples.......

Having had several generations of Blackberrys, I finally feel like I have everything I want in a business phone. Love the size, since I have large hands, and love the weight and feel of the phone. I absolutely hate picking up a phone, like Derek Zoolander, and having no substance to it. Good bye to the 9700 I used for the last year. I should have stuck with the 9000 until the 9800 came out. Live and learn.

Acronyms like "FTW" in a business review? Really?

The review is okay, but I did get lost in the details. Maybe that's the flaw of "Idol" - you want people to be comprehensive but this is just too much.

Needs to be edited and/or better written. This looks like it was written by a high school student.

The video was okay. You used two different mikes and you can tell the difference. As a corporate user, your didn't hit the mark. I need to know about wireless synch or researching on the web or connecting with my clients. Sorry this was a disappointment.

Extremely fair commentary and valuable if I was seriously considering "upgrading" from my 9700 to the slider. I'm a business user who also considers his berry his hobby, but primarily this is a business device. This is the kind of input I really need and value and now I have no interest whatsoever in replacing my device with a slider.

I haven't been voting in the "Idol" contest, but I really think this is the kind of input we need and whether or not this person is voted to represent CB, he should be added.

I must say, I'm a little disappointed with the video. It seemed to rushed and didn't really provide much useful info. I was a big fan of your last video and write-up, but this performance was lacking. The write-up this time was just ok.

Sorry Dave. This one just didn't cut it for me, especially from the businesman perspective. I imagine a boardroom full of business professionals watching that video presentation trying to make an informed decision on what product to supply the employess in their company. The peopel in the room would be upset with how that video wasted their time.

I like your other reviews and videos, but this one just seemed silly to me. And even if silly was okay, the focus wasn't directly related to what I encounter as a business professional.

This felt more like an overview as opposed to a "Power Business" Review. I've already seen the Overview - I want to see the nitty gritty on why the 9800 is better for me as a Business User than, say, the 9700.

I also felt like you were all over the place and you didn't really have a outline for your review.

Best of luck, but I think you're in tough.

the guy never worked in corp how would he know what to expect. This is CBs fault as much as his and should be allowed a redo with direct instructions what corps expect froma bb.

the guy never worked in corp how would he know what to expect. This is CBs fault as much as his and should be allowed a redo with direct instructions what corps expect from a bb.

ma crackin peeps! i had high hopes for DP - thought he was a LOCK! i'm sad after reading his review and i'm disappointed. on one hand i'm so glad this is not a fanboy review like the previous 9800 overs on this site. on the other hand, this is Peckens at his worst. Was it rushed? Likely. What's this aboot: "I don’t recommend even pretending to use the Torch while driving or lying down." LYING DOWN?!?!? i mean sure we have all pulled a Costanza at our desks when needed but ummmm...not many business folks are interested in this angle! Certainly not their bosses or WIVES! HAHA....keep crackin Dave and GOOD LUCK.

From this review it appears that you may, and I only say "may" not know BES for BlackBerry. Simple, one can not know something yet still write about it. All I can say about this review is "?"

It was nice to see some of the quirks to the Torch, as well as some of the other issues you were having with BB6.

I also have to say I didn't feel like it went into the business side of things as much it could have. It was good to see an appointment going into the calendar while taking a call (I take notes constantly during business calls the same way).

I felt the written review was good. There is always more that can be touched upon, and trying to fit in as much as possible into a specific limit can be hard. It was nice to see an honest review, though. :)

I didn't necessarily agree with this review. What makes this phone better for someone in business is that it is fun to navigate through. This keeps the business person coming back to mistakenly check emails and messages. The OS6 allows its user to access messages so much quicker with just the one touch of the messaging bar. The OS6 and the phone allow you stay on top of the world with its better memory, better internet applications and better messaging applications. Finally, if you need to input data or reply to messages you can do it much easier using the hardware keyboard. I believe it is the greatest phone all around. Kudos to Blackberry and AT&T!

I wanted to enjoy this review but I just couldn't. I watched the video and read the review this morning before my commute to the office. I wanted to leave a comment right after watching it, but I figured I should relax and not be late for work so I figured I'd come back to it. The one positive here is that this review has kept me thinking about CB Idol all day... Anyways, as someone who uses the BlackBerry Torch as a business person for a full time technical support type job and a weekend flight instructing job, I was shocked by how little substance the video actually had. I never got over it, a good amount of the details in the review just could not make up for it. Everyone uses there phone differently so I don't want to argue about that but in order my uses for business purposes are: 1. email, 2. calendar, 3. text messaging, 4. BBM groups, 5. web browser, 6. word/excel to go THEN 7. the phone... I was sorely disappointed when in 5 minutes of video review you only mentioned 2 of these seven key things! Not to mention the slider work out which was WAY too long. I actually asked my self "wtf am I doing right now, I could be making breakfast instead of watching this"...

This is funny because last week when I support Brittany everyone said look there are people so much better... I'm going to be honest after supporting Brittany solely so she would bring life to the CrackBerry podcasts Dave and Joe were my two favorites. Well after watching this I feel like the New York Yankees in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox came back after being like 5 outs away from being swept in the American League Championship Series... Hopefully, Joe comes through for me!

In any event, I think Dave did a great job overall and hopefully his early momentum can carry him through to victory, but unless everyone else lays some real stinkers I have to say, this lost Dave my vote... Sorry man. Though I think your insight and writing would be a valuable asset to CrackBerry, but not as the first CrackBerry Idol...

(This is solely based on the video)
I really did not see any insight on real professional use.. The reviewer made no mentions on how the device affects his daily professional routine, neither what he is involved in. There was no real substance in the video... The power "mom" video was a lot more insightful and informative. There was about 10 seconds of backcover scratching.. I mean come on..

So how come a review that goes: "blah blah blah it's Blackberry and does everything is expected to do, but it’s not one I will regularly use or recommend" sums up as a good Business review? Where does this leave us? Usable but don't use it? Reviewers should stick to the facts and leave personal preferences aside.

And if you're going to do a business review, make sure you talk business.

sorry, awful review. awful video, a disrespect to any businessman. pick me next time, at least its not a toy to me.

I don't mean that in any negative way. I can't really disagree with what many, including the judges, said, but I do think you fit the role very well. Your writing style is very fluid, and even though your other posts were much better, I feel you bring a lot to the table. Within the time frame you guys had, I think you did well, and I think it's great you went out and got the opinion of execs. Congratulations on your new phone, and getting this far in the competition!

Yeah this review....was abysmal.

You really only had to make a few comparisons and contrast a few features, that you really didn't get into.

You talked about durability, first off, everyone knows every Blackberry feels stiff when you first get it, it then softens up but doesn't become too soft over time. In terms of battery cover and keyboard so I assume the same about the slider feature.

You mentioned nothing about how it actually SOUNDS when making a speakerphone call, loudness is one thing, but how far away can you be from the phone in order to hear and be heard? Sometimes being loud and sound quality do not go hand in hand.

Yes, a lot of us here have Word to Go and other such business applications. You mentioned nothing of such. Or about lag while using many applications at once, or battery life after sending emails and phone calls or even how fast this guy charges up.

You didn't even mention where its micro sd card slot is and how easy or uneasy it is to access.

And finally, you weren't allowed to use it on ATT's network, I understand. But you should have done this review on some sort of 3G network. You didn't say anything about call quality, download speed (im surprised no 3G phone has enhanced EDGE....we all get bumped down to Edge why does only the 8900 get that feature) or even its basic out of the box storage compared to other BBs.