The BlackBerry 9800 Torch has been touted as the "best BlackBerry that RIM has produced." While many have mixed feelings about RIM's newest sizzling hot device (aka. The Torch), I was given the task of reviewing this device from the prospective of a person who travels/vacations a lot.
While OS6 boast some significant changes, I believe that OS6 was released prematurely. OS6 is still a bit too buggy to have been released on the Torch...even if the 9800 is true to its tagline: "Less than an evolutionary leap, more like a triple axle."
My user experience was less than I had hoped for and/or expected. Which is bitter sweet for me. Sweet...that OS6's "current limitations" made this review short and sweet. However, the downside is that this device/OS has just been released and "currently" has very little to no support (BlackBerry/RIM excluded).
I experienced problems with the Torch right out of the box. Upon unboxing the BlackBerry 9800 and picking it up, it is quite noticeable that this BlackBerry is significantly heavier. Some would say, even a bit Droid-ish in weight. While it takes some getting used to, the weight soon becomes less and less noticeable.
The first OS issue I encountered, was that my Torch was missing BlackBerry's signature BBM. While on vacation (esp. when out of the country) I am a big...NO...HUGE...BBM user. I was disappointed when I powered up the Torch only to find that BBM was not preloaded. What??? Yep, it's true, even the Torch's powerful Universal Search could not locate BBM (refer to image below). To make things worse, an OS6 bug prevented me from downloading BBM from RIM (Error 907). Had I been out-of-state or even worse out-of-the-country, this would have been a disaster.
The disappointment continued when the 9800 sported the infamous "white screen" on 5 different occasions; requiring multiple battery pulls in only a week's time.
The most noticeable changes FOR ME as a traveler involved the following:
Universal Search☺: When I'm in a new city, I don't have time to dilly dally. I need answers, directions, and contacts NOW! Universal Search keeps this device "in the flow." It is truly one of the things that keep OS6 afloat. Universal Search helps the end user navigate through the chaos of swiping threw 2 or 3 various screens/pages just to find what you're looking for. The Universal Search feature can be accessed straight from the home page by simply sliding your Torch open and typing. Whether it be an app, contact, photo, email, text, web search, etc. This beautiful feature can save valuable time and effort. It is the proverbial finder of the "needle in the hay stack" for the 9800.
Keyboard☺: I absolutely love the fact that the Torch has both a physical keyboard as well as a virtual one. RIM made a great decision in making this device a "real touch" and replacing the "surepress." I can't begin to tell you how irritating that surepress sound can be on 3 hour road trip from LA to Las Vegas; even worse on a 5-6 hour flight (airplane mode of course). Some of these business guys (not you Dave...lol) just don't know how to keep their CrackBerry addiction in check. The virtual keyboard now offers a quieter BlackBerry experience.
Battery☹: The battery life of the BlackBerry Torch is not one of a typical BlackBerry. The battery life is more like something Apple would put out. After less than 16 hours of "regular use," this 9800 Torch had to be "re-kindled" via a mandatory battery recharge. Whether I'm traveling for business or pleasure, I tend to be on-the-go from early morning til late in the evening. Having to recharge my device became a bit of a nuisance.
Touch Screen☹: The UI touch interface needs to be optimized. BlackBerry's current touch screen is a huge leap in the right direction, however, (and I hate to do this...but) compared to an iPhone, the BlackBerry's touch screen experience is lagging (pun intended...lol). However, it's at these times that the ever present track pad picks up the slack. The 9800's track pad allows the user to utilize the cursor for more accurate/deliberate screen actions.
When traveling, I tend to use the following apps pretty religiously:
Twitter for BlackBerry (as soon as fully supported & out of beta...Social Scope)
BBM (Was not preloaded/bug prevented proper download)
TXTLater (Unsupported/Not available on device)
World Mate (Unsupported/Not available on device)
Tether, OpenTable, Google Maps, & Twitter worked flawlessly with my new BlackBerry 9800 Torch.
I was a little disappointed to hear that WorldMate & TXTLater was/is not yet supported and is not available on the 9800. WorldMate has been keeping my itineraries straight for a couple of years now. Absolutely love it! As for BBM, I had to do a device "wipe and reinstall."
How I use/benefit from the Torch and would I recommend it? Hmmm, very tough question...and maybe, too early in the game to make that type of assessment. Like most smartphones, BlackBerry's devices are becoming more and more reliant on apps, themes, etc. While OS6 has major improvements, it still is a bit buggy. At times, this OS can seem chaotic and has "too much going on" for my taste; which can be very frustrating from the end user's perspective. While I like the direction RIM is going in with the whole "rethink possible" slogan. I believe it's a little too early in the game to predict how the Torch/OS6 consumer will benefit. As of date, there appears to be little to no tech support on the app end for this OS6 platform.
I can't really say I'd give the Torch a "thumbs up or thumbs down," being that the 9800/OS6 was just released.
I believe that (AT THIS TIME), the Torch has certainly fell short of a "triple axle." OS6 is still too buggy and down right frustrating. Typically, I just want to pick up my BlackBerry and get down to business. Perhaps I'm just a BlackBerry traditionalist/purist...I want my BlackBerry to make my life easier not busier.
True touch screen finally replaces surepress
Camera 5.0 (takes great pics)
Is still a bit buggy
UI Touch interface needs to be optimized
BBM not preinstalled
Hardly any app support for OS6 (thus far...)
Battery life (1 day tops)
Daily battery pull required due to device freezing up
OS6 can seem a bit "helter/skelter"
No support for Apps (soon to be resolved)
Limited accessories (soon to be resolved)
While weighing the current shortcomings of this device/OS against the "potential" of this device/OS, I'll have to give the Torch Aloha Joe's 3 out of 5 surfboards. (with a possibility of upgrading to 4 out of 5 as OS6 support rolls out).
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