News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.861 for BlackBerry Curve 9310, Curve 9350/70, and Torch 9850 released by Bluegrass Cellular

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.746 for the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and 9860

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.714 for the BlackBerry Torch 9860 from Gibtelecom

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.694 for the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and Torch 9860 from AT&T

News & Rumors

Leaked OS 7.1.0.714 for the BlackBerry Torch 9860

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.649 for the BlackBerry Torch 9850 from China Telecom

News & Rumors

Leaked OS 7.1.0.649 now available for most devices

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.569 for the BlackBerry Torch 9860 from Claro Ecuador

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.580 for the BlackBerry Bold 9930 and Torch 9850 from Sprint

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.580 for BlackBerry Torch 9850 from Sprint available OTA

BlackBerry Cases

Up the level of protection with the Case-Mate Tough Case for the BlackBerry Torch 9850/60

BlackBerry OS

Official OS 7.1.0.523 for the BlackBerry Torch 9860 from Redington

News & Rumors

Leaked OS 7.1.0.402 for the BlackBerry Torch 9860

News & Rumors

Leaked OS 7.1.0.402 for the BlackBerry Torch 9850

News & Rumors

Leaked OS 7.1.0.340 for the BlackBerry Torch 9850

News & Rumors

Official BlackBerry Torch 9860 OS 7.1.0.342 from Telenor Norway

News & Rumors

BlackBerry Torch 9860 and Curve 9380 receive end-of-life dates on TELUS

News & Rumors

Leaked OS 7.1.0.342 for the BlackBerry Torch 9860

News & Rumors

Leaked: OS 7.1.0.267 for the BlackBerry Torch 9850

News & Rumors

Official OS 7.1.0.190 for the BlackBerry Torch 9860 released by A1 Telekom Austria

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BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Review, Take 2!

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Ratings
By Joseph Holder on 23 Aug 2011 01:01 pm EDT
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The thin, light-weight design of this Torch, with its curvaceous lines; beautiful screen resolution; and excellent web browser make this into an excellent media-consumption device. BBM, email, and a redesigned virtual keyboard make it worthy of the name BlackBerry.

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Hero


The Video - Torch 9850 First Walkthrough

Everything you need to know about the BlackBerry Torch 9850 in a bit more than 10 minutes! Perhaps not everything, but you'll get a good overview of this brand-new full touch BlackBerry.

Youtube Link (expand video for full view)


The Good

The Torch 9850/9860 is a beautifully sculpted device, exactingly designed to fit comfortably in the hand. The understated elegance of the phone really makes for an impressive device. The high-resolution touchscreen creates a really enjoyable media and web experience.

The Bad

This BlackBerry Smartphone isn't for everyone. Those who rely on their physical keyboards to type hundreds of words at a time will find the virtual keyboard inadequate. Some users will find the raised buttons at the bottom to be unbecoming of a BlackBerry.

Conclusion

The BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 is a wonderful device for watching movies and exploring the world wide web. The trade-off for having a large screen and thin body is the lack of a physical keyboard. For some, this will make the device unatractive. Others, like me, will find the virtual keyboard to be quite sufficent, a comfortable compromise for a beautiful device.

In This Review
Torch 98xx Hardware Review
BlackBerry 7 OS Impressions
Extended Conclusions
Torch 9850/9860 Pros/Cons
More Torch 9850 Info
Torch 9850 Features & Specs
Torch 9850 Discussion Forum
Buy Torch 9850 Accessories
Visit our Torch 9850 Super Page!
More Torch 9860 Info
Torch 9860 Features & Specs
Torch 9860 Discussion Forum
Buy Torch 9860 Accessories
Visit our Torch 9860 Super Page!

The BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Re-Review

BlackBerry 7 Smartphones - Pick your Form Factor!
Five new BlackBerry 7 Smartphones in three distinct form factors:
BlackBerry Torch 9810 (slider), BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 (full keyboard), BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 (touch only)

After months of waiting, new BlackBerry Smartphones are here. We're now witnessing the largest world-wide launch by Research In Motion, with new OS7-powered Smartphones coming to 225 carriers an distribution partners from around the globe. All of these new phones are based on the same hardware and software platforms, with only slightly more than the form factor differentiating the devices. Choosing between these several devices really comes down to how you want to use your phone.

The BlackBerry Torch 9850 and the 9860 are full-screen BlackBerry Smartphones. The 9850/60 trades the physical keyboard found in many RIM devices for a much larger screen and a rather thin profile. The 9850 used for this review is the CDMA version used on networks like Verizon and Sprint. Running on GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile, the 9860 is its closely-related cousin. Except for the network radio, these two models are essentially the same phone.

Why a Take Two Review? This review of the BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 follows up Kevin's previous review of the BlackBerry Torch 9860 and Adam's previous review of the BlackBerry Torch 9850. With both Kevin and Adam being "physical keyboard guys," we wanted to provided a followup review from the perspective of a BlackBerry user who is a big fan of the BlackBerry touchscreen keyboard. You'll want to check out all the reviews to get your full understanding of this great full touchscreen BlackBerry to help you decide if its the new BlackBerry 7 Smartphone for you.

BlackBerry Torch 9850 /9860 Hardware Impressions

The 9850/9860

Before getting too far into this review, I'd like to make one thing clear. If you use your BlackBerry to frequently send messages hundreds of words long, If you live inside of BlackBerry Messenger, or if you don't like typing on glass (actually plastic in this case), you will not like the Torch 9850. And that's okay, Research In Motion has already made the perfect phone for you, the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930.

Research In Motion makes BlackBerry Smartphones in a variety of form factors because the company realizes that different people have different priorities for their mobile devices. The Torch 9850/9860 was made for a specific type of BlackBerry user, namely me. I write that in jest, but there is a grain of truth behind it. I don't do an incredible amount of messaging; I watch movies, TV, and videos frequently on my smartphone; and I enjoy browsing the internet. While a full-keyboard is a must-have for many people, I much prefer the larger screen and thinner size offered by the Torch 9850/9860.

On first look at the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860, a few things are immediately noticeable. The screen seems much more elongated than anything we've seen previously under the Storm or Torch names. The colorless buttons on the front jut from the surface of the phone. At 11.5 mm, the Torch 9850/9860 is the thinnest full-touch BlackBerry to date, 16% thinner than the Storm 2 and 20% thinner than the Torch 9800. In short, this phone is neither the Storm 3 or the Torch 2; it is altogether something better.

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Specs

Appearance, Form Factor, Build Quality

Holding the BlackBerry Torch 9850 in my hands for the first time, I was immediately awestruck and impressed with the physical design of the device. While it may not be especially clear in pictures, the Torch 9850/9860 is sculpted to fit exactly into the hands and perfectly balanced. Everything about the phone seems designed to meet those very important specifications.

9850 Balanced on a finger

Looking at the back of the Smartphone, you'll notice that the battery door is sunk into the back of the device, forming two raised areas at either end of the phone. These two raised areas are essential to comfortably holding the phone. Whether holding in one hand or two, landscape or portrait, your fingers naturally use these areas to grip and support the BlackBerry.

The back of the device is sculpted to meet your fingers and hand

The back of the device is simple, with only the metallic BlackBerry logo - like the one found on the BlackBerry PlayBook - for adornment. Although Kevin's review unit lacked carrier branding, this carrier unit was tastefully branded at the bottom of the battery door. The metal battery door, I might add. I've not been a fan of the plastic doors found on most BlackBerry Smartphones, with the Curve 3G being the worst offender. To me, that touch of a metal battery door makes this Torch feel even more solid than it already is.

Noticeably absent is any sort of name for this device. On my Torch 9800, the name is emblazoned in large letters next to the camera. The Torch 9850 bears none of this insignia. I might argue, however, that the look of the device alone is statement enough.

The Back of the 9850/9860

After removing the battery cover, you'll find the same JM-1 battery that is also found in the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930. Above that, you'll see the SIM and microSD card slots, presumably filled with SIM and microSD cards, respectively. I like that the SD card can be removed without taking out the battery. Removal of the SIM card is a different story; the battery must be removed first. Since I don't plan to frequently swap SIM cards, it's really not an issue.

Battery cover and back

At the top of the device is the 5 megapixel camera and light; more on that later.

5.0 MP Camera and video light

Turning to the front of the Torch 9850/9860, the top and bottom are formed into rounded areas, sometimes called "waterfalls." These areas add stylish touch to this new BlackBerry, beautifully extending its simple, elegant design from the front to the back. These waterfalls are not just a design choice; they serve a practical function, as well. Held in landscape, the ends of the phone are again naturally and comfortably gripped by the hands. Hold a Torch 9800 or 9810 in the same way, and it will not sit nearly as nicely as does the 9850/9860.

Sculpted waterfalls

The buttons on the front of this touchscreen BlackBerry are a rather radical departure from what is normally found on a BlackBerry. Like the other OS7 devices, the buttons have lost their color. Though having different icons on them, all four buttons are uniformly white. It's a stylistic choice that adds a great deal of quiet elegance to the device.

Front buttons on the Torch 9850/9860

On every BlackBerry I've known of, the buttons - Call, Menu, Back, and End Call - have been set flush against the front of the phone. With the Torch 9850/9860 the buttons stick up from the surface of the Smartphone. It's not a great distance, but it is noticeable. In the Torch 9850/9860, I'm fairly certain that raising the buttons was a design choice to give us a thinner phone. Every button and key has a certain travel distance. Placing the travel distance above the surface means that same distance doesn't have to be concealed within the device.

The small size of the buttons restates the thin, light profile of the Torch 9850/9860. Certainly large enough to be of use, the raised buttons also make them easy to find in the dark. Since the Torch 9850 essentially feels the same way whether held right side up or upside down, the buttons help you to orient your device in low light situations. Or, as in my case, you can't find your glasses in the morning.

Tiny, yet functional, volume and play/pause/mute buttons

Along the right side of the Torch 9850/9860, you'll find the volume and the play/pause/mute buttons as well as the device's lone convenience key and the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. The buttons are tiny and very thin. I do not doubt for a minute that this was a design choice to further emphasize the Smartphone's thinness. But being a person with large-ish hands, the small size of these keys definitely gave me pause for concern. Holding the device, I found my concerns were unfounded. These buttons are designed to be felt by the hands rather than seen by the eyes.

True, they are difficult to see, but they are easy to use. Nestled between the two volume keys is the Play/Pause/Mute key. It is this key that is the...well, key to the three button combination. Running a finger down the side of the device, this small nub between the two larger keys is easily identifiable by touch. From there, it is a simple matter to figure out which key raises and which key lowers the volume.

The convenience key on the BlackBerry Torch 9850

Below the media control buttons is the one convenience key; admittedly is the most difficult of the thin side-keys to press, especially when holding the phone in portrait mode. It's a two stage key, designed to be used with the autofocus camera. Pressing the key in halfway focuses the camera; completely pressing it takes the picture. However, many people use the convenience key not to take pictures, but to launch other programs.

To do this requires the key to be pressed completely in to its second stage. I found this quite awkward to press this convenience key completely while the phone is held portrait-wise in one hand. Rather than blaming this on the size of the key, I think this is more an issue with the key being placed so low on the device. On the other hand, holding the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 in landscape mode, the convenience key is perfectly positioned for taking pictures.

MicroUSB

On the left side of the device, centered, is a standard micro USB port. Use it to connect the 9850/9860 to a computer or charge the device. Keep in mind that all micro USB chargers are not created equally. Even older BlackBerry chargers may not work properly with this device. The charger that ships with the BlackBerry PlayBook, however, juices this phone PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick).

At the top of the Torch 9850/9860, you'll find the lock button. This is the only button at the top and it covers the entire top waterfall of the BlackBerry. Since it's a part of the waterfall, the button blends in seamlessly with the rest of the device. Also at the top are the handset speaker (for calls) and the iconic BlackBerry notification light.

Along the bottom waterfall, you'll find the microphone and the device's main speaker. I really like the speaker in this Torch. In the original Torch 9800, the speaker pointed away from you, the user. In the Torch 9850/9860, the speaker points towards you, sending the best, loudest sound possible straight to its user.

Speaker and microphone positions

All of this design work goes in to support the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860's most important and prominent feature, a large 800x480 touchscreen. With a pixel density of 253 ppi, this screen renders the BlackBerry OS and videos in beautiful color and stunning depth. BlackBerry as a touch experience has improved greatly over the years. With liquid graphics and a 1.2 GHz snapdragon processor, BlackBerry comes to life on this screen.

Processor / Chipset / Performance

BlackBerry Bold 9900

All of the newly-announced BlackBerry 7 Smartphones, including the BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860, are running the Qualcomm Scorpion MSM 8655 processor clocked at 1.2GHz on the Snapdragon chipset. An Adreno 205 GPU (graphics processing unit) is also onboard, powering BlackBerry 7's hardware accelerated graphics, which RIM has trademarked "Liquid Graphics." At 1.2 GHz, this BlackBerry Smartphone powers through every process and runs nearly twice as fast as my Torch 9800. In addition, the new GPU finally provides the necessary hardware for 3D graphics and games.

The dreaded hourglass, while by no means completely absent, is largely irrelevant. Even while hourglassing, the device is still usable in its normal fashion. The fast processor and Liquid Graphics really bring the BlackBerry experience we've all been waiting for.

Touchscreen Display

Full touchscreen device

The most important part of this BlackBerry is its touchscreen; almost everything you do on this device will be controlled here. The 480x800 display fits into a 3.7" inch screen, packing 253 pixels into every inch of that display. The result is a rich, vibrant display that makes text easy to read and videos a joy to watch.
I really like the size of this screen; it's not overly obnoxiously large like some smartphones yet large enough to comfortably watch a movie. The screen's 5:3 aspect ratio is much closer to the 16:9 that has become the standard for High Definition. Videos filmed in this format look marvelous on the Torch 9850/9860, with only tiny black slivers at the top and bottom of the image to frame it.

Accuracy has improved with this latest Torch. I have large fingers that press upon relatively large portions of the screen, yet the touchscreen and the BlackBerry OS virtually always understand what I'm trying to do. Interestingly enough, only the barest touch of the finger is actually needed. Several times I had to look closely to make sure the Smartphone wasn't somehow detecting my finger mid-air.

Unlike the Torch 9800, the 9850/9860's screen is made of a scratch-resistant plastic. In his review, Kevin noticed a bit of a tendency for his fingers to get stuck as he's using the screen. I noticed this too, but for me it wasn't as big of a problem. It may be because my screen is not as clean as Kevin's. Apologies if this sounds crude; unhygienic; or nasty, but I've always thought a nice layer of fingerprint oils makes for a better touch experience. Whether touching on glass or plastic, the natural oils of fingerprints make it easier to slide my fingers along the screen. It does make the device look less attractive when the screen is turned off, but that's a compromise I'm willing to accept.

Keyboard/Typing

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Virtual Keyboard

The keyboard on the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 does take a little time to master, especially if you're accoustomed to typing on the Torch 9800's virtual keyboard. The virtual keyboard on this OS7 device takes on the style of the one used on the Blackbery PlayBook. Most notably, the shift and numbers keys have been reversed. Ultimately, I think this is a wise decision. It makes typing numbers and symbols much easier and standardizes the keyboard across the BlackBerry brand. Other things have changed for the better as well. The Enter/OK/Send key has been moved further away from the backspace key. On the 9800's virtual keyboard, I was constantly sending incomplete messages when all I wanted to do was to correct a small error quickly.

On the keyboard, the keys themselves are smaller, but a bit more spread out. This makes it easier to find and use the correct key. Also on board is a small arrow at the top of the keyboard; tapping the arrow hides the keyboard. This a nice feature for those who had trouble with the Hide Keyboard gesture on the 9800, but I find myself hitting the button quite frequently when trying to type a t or a y. Given the chance, I would much prefer a way to disable this arrow.

One disappointment is with the portrait style keyboard. For whatever reason, I find myself typing more errors and correcting more words while using that mode. Landscape keyboard, now that's a completely different story. As I write this keyboard section using the virtual keyboard of the Torch 9850/9860, I become more and more comfortable with this landscape version. Keys are well spaced, and the processor keeps up with my thumbs as they do their dance across the letters. The BlackBerry OS, too, keeps up with me as I type, suggesting words, correcting my spelling, and substituting words so that il changes to I'll.

Unlike the Torch 9800, the Torch 9850 was made to be used in landscape. Sure you could type in landscape on the 9800, but that Smartphone is much more oriented to the portrait. No, this latest, full-screen Torch was meant to be used horizontally.

The waterfalls, as they've been called, are the areas at either end of the Smartphone. While they add an elegant, stylish look to the device, they are functional as well. Holding the phone, the waterfalls allow your hands to comfortably wrap around the device, protecting it and making the phone stable while you type. On the back, the raised areas of the camera and bottom sections are designed to make it easier for those hands to grip. Finally, the keyboard is now wide enough that your two thumbs don't collide as they both reach toward the center of the device.

Plastic, not glass forms the touch surface on the new 9850. It is a scratch-resistant plastic and chosen to reduce the weight and thickness of the device. I actually find it easier to type on than glass. There's a certain bounce that the surface provides, making typing on the virtual keyboard that much faster.

I'll certainly agree that this virtual keyboard might not be the way to go for some people. For folks like me though, it's perfect. I don't do a large amount of typing on my Smartphone, even when I had one with a physical keyboard. If you're a heavy messager, pounding out 200 word emails by the handful, then this keyboard is not right for you. If however, you don't mind typing on glass (sorry, plastic), then there's not too much to hate about this keyboard. And a whole lot to like.

Memory

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Storage

With 768 MB of RAM, the device has plenty of space to run the device and store applications. It seem unfortunate that only 192 of these MB are available for applications on the phone. There are perhaps a few reasons for this. A large chunk of the memory goes into running the Operating system; another large chunk is reserved for Graphics Processing Unit and Liquid Graphics. I also believe - though we've received no official word of this - that another large chunk is reserved for RAM operations. Hourglassing on a BlackBerry usually occurs when the device can't find enough RAM to do its job. With more memory specifically reserved for RAM, hourglassing would be greatly reduced - as we've seen with these latest OS7 devices.

Even with only 192 MB available for applications, a person would hardly be limited by that. BlackBerry applications are typically small in file size, usually taking up no more than a handful of megabytes at a time. Even a graphically intense program like 3D Rollercoaster Rush Jurassic 2 only uses 2.2 MB of application storage. The application itself is small, but the hundreds of MB's of graphics that download with it are not. These are stored on the device's internal storage and do not occupy any application storage space.

Battery Life

JM-1 Battery found in the Torch 9850/9860

The first day I used the BlackBerry Torch 9850, the battery was amazing. I got the phone around 11 a.m., connected it to my WiFi network, and that thing lasted all day. Seeing as how this was my first day with a brand-new BlackBerry, I really put the phone through its paces. As midnight rolled around, the battery indicator finally shifted to red.

The next day was different; I turned off WiFi. I had heard the battery lasted much longer while the phone was able to use WiFi for its data; so I decided to put that to the test. Taking the phone off the charger at 9 a.m., I went through my BlackBerry day as usual. By 8 in the evening, the indicator had turned red and the LED was flashing yellow. Still, that's a solid 11 hours of BlackBerry time.

Another factor in this must be signal strength. Even with my Torch 9800, I've noticed a severe battery drain when using the phone in an area of weak coverage. Just the simple act of trying to stay connected to the network - not even making calls or receiving text messages - was enough to put a heavy strain on the battery. When I experienced a similar phenomenon with the 9850 (on a different network than my 9800), I checked the coverage map. Sure enough, everywhere I had been that day was in a "good" coverage zone with 2-3 bars being the norm.

If you spend your days with WiFi providing data and/or in an area of good network coverage, I'm willing to bet the battery in 9850/9860 is able to keep you going well past 18 hours. If however, you live in a rural area with poor network coverage, I might suggest investing in a spare battery.

Phone & Audio 

The phone works. Actually it worked better than my Torch 9800. On the few test calls I made, I had no problem with the other party hearing or understanding me. As I said, I once switched phones in the middle of a conversation with a marked improvement on both ends of call when using the 9850. I like the headset speaker - the one at the top - a great deal better than previous BlackBerry speakers. Whether that's the small size of the device making it easier to hold against the ear or some real improvement to the speaker, I don't know. People just sound better on this Torch 9850.

The large speaker, the speakerphone speaker, is positioned at the bottom of the Smartphone, facing the user. I found this speaker to be a bit louder than I am accustomed to and appreciated it. I may be wrong, but it sounds as though this speaker has a wider range as well. Playing the same music file on the Torch 9800 and the Torch 9850, the newer Smartphone seemed to play a few notes that the first-generation Torch did not.

Camera

BlackBerry Torch 9860 HD Video Recording

The 5 MP camera on the BlackBerry Torch 9850 is a fairly impressive one. Possessing the auto-focus feature that I so enjoy on a BlackBerry, the camera is able to take still pictures at an incredible resolution, up to 2560x1920. High Definition video comes to the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 as well, allowing you to capture video at 720p resolution.

For the most part, the auto-focus works well and keeps the appropriate subject in focus. During some of the video recording though, I did notice the auto-focus having a bit of trouble keeping up with me. Most of the time, the AF quickly adjusts itself, but there's one instance in the video that takes quite a while to focus properly. I doubt this problem is hardware-related and might possibly be improved in a future OS update.

This small glitch aside, I'm very pleased with the Torch 9850/9860's camera. Colors come out bright and clear, with a high resolution. Shooting in low light? No problem. The Torch 9850/9860 keeps the very bright video light I've come to expect from the Torch name.

Web Browser

Web Browser on the Torch 9850/9860

The Webkit-based web browser found on this OS7 device is an amazing leap forward for the BlackBerry Browser. Even full sites - not just their mobile counterparts - load quickly. Better still, you can actually interact with pages while they are loading. Previously, you really had no choice but to wait while the entire page loaded.

Videos play inside the browser. While this is technically possible on older OS6 models, it rarely actually worked. On my Torch 9800, I've seen it work only a handful of times. On the Torch 9850/9860, HTML5 videos play without too much difficulty beyond the initial time to load and buffer the video. On a site like CrackBerry.com, we provide YouTube links so the videos can play full-screen. This is not true of most of the web; not to mention the fact that YouTube is hardly the source of every video. Though the BlackBerry's browser will not play Flash video (few mobile devices actually have that capability), many videos on the web are now in HTML5 format. And those certainly play nice with the Torch 9850/9860's web browser.

Touch accuracy has some room for improvement in the web browser. Following a link can sometimes be hit or miss. The web browser also has a tenency to follow the same, incorrect link after returning to a page. This is something that should be easy to fix with a future OS update.

Video

Videos are to pixel scale

The image quality on the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 is nothing short of amazing. 253 pixels fill each inch. It's not just the pixel density that makes this BlackBerry screen so stunning. A 800x480 WVGA screen is a great resolution for watching movies, TV, and other high-definition video .

As a test, I loaded up the exact same Doctor Who clip on both the Torch 9800 and the Torch 9850. The 9850's screen put the 9800's screen to shame. The same video on the 9860 showed much more clarity, depth, and color than on the older Torch's screen. I've always enjoyed watching movies on that Torch; I'll enjoy watching movies on the Torch 9850/9860 even more.

Other Internals - Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi , Other Sensors

Bluetooth: Bluetooth is an essential technology for any modern smartphone, and the Torch 9850/9860 is no exception. Most people don't consider that streaming audio to a Bluetooth device takes processing power. On my Torch 9800, I was never able to watch videos and listen with Bluetooth headphones. The delay caused by the processing made audio go out of snyc with the video. That's not a problem with the 9860. Finally, I can watch videos without wires.

GPS: The GPS system on the BlackBerry Torch 9860 is improved over that found in the 9800. The system much more quickly contacts satellites to get a position fix.

WiFi: WiFi works and works quite well. Connecting to the router using WiFi Protected Setup was a breeze with the 9850 connecting faster than most of the internet devices at the house. The 802.11 a/b/n radio should have no trouble connecting to any WiFi access point. Unlike the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930, the Torch 9850/9860 does not access those 5 GHz wireless networks.

WiFi Hotspot / NFC: Both are absent from this BlackBerry Torch. Neither prove to be any great loss. It is rumored that future OS updates may add the Mobile Hotspot feature to the device, but it's not certain if or when this feature would be introduced.

As of this writing, the Bold 9900/9930 is the only BlackBerry to support NFC out of the box, along with the newly-announced BlackBerry Curves 9350/9360/9370. Though exciting, NFC is still an emerging technology with little practical use as of yet. Times may change; if so, third-party NFC solutions for your BlackBerry are available.

BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Accessories

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Cases

Whenever I get a new BlackBerry, there are two accessories I must have: a case and a charging pod. The first is completely practical. I need a case for the Torch 9850/9860 because I'm a bit of a klutz. My phone gets dropped, struck, and generally banged around through no fault of my own; gravity is my enemy. I need the protection of a case as soon as possible.

My other favorite accessory is the charging pod. I really like how these tiny little pieces of hardware transform my BlackBerry into a bedside alarm clock. Plus, there's the whole benefit of charging the BlackBerry while it's in the pod. Without the BlackBerry charging pod sitting beside my bed, I'm more likely than not to forget to charge my Smartphone. In addition, there's a whole slew of accessories for the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 to discover and enjoy. One of my favorite things about getting a new BlackBerry is getting all the "toys" that go with it!

Browse and Buy BlackBerry Torch 9850 Cases & Accessories
Browse and Buy BlackBerry Torch 9860 Cases & Accessories

BlackBerry Torch 9850 /9860 Hardware Wrap-Up

BlackBerry Torch 9850 in landscape

Overall, and as you may have guessed from the rest of the review, I am very impressed with the hardware and the capabilities of this BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860. The screen is bright, vivid, and responsive. Movies look better on this BlackBerry than any other BlackBerry I've used. The processor is fast, super fast.

I know this gets mentioned quite a lot in this review, but this is a big deal for BlackBerry. Since the early days of the RIM 950 "Leapfrog," Research In Motion chose to sacrifice processing power to get more battery life from the device. BlackBerry Smartphones are known for lasting days on a single battery charge. While the 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor certainly puts a strain on the JM-1 battery, the Torch 9850/9860 will make it through a day at the office on that same single charge. It will go even longer if the device is in an area of good network coverage or has access to WiFi.

What most impresses me about this touchscreen Torch is the sculpted and elegant design of the form factor. It is sleek, svelte, and oh so nice to look at. Showing the device to my friends, they were rather confused as to why I had an Android device. Certainly, I could forgive them for that mistake; this phone does not look like what one usually expects from a BlackBerry.

The back, front, and sides are designed to comfortably sit in the hand. Whether held in portrait or landscape, the raised ends and flowing waterfalls make the device feel like it was customized to fit in my hands. Ultimately, that is the BlackBerry's goal. First and foremost, BlackBerry Smartphones are communications devices. The shape of the device makes that communication even easier. The hardware design elements work together so that when you're holding the phone comfortably in your hands, you're also holding it securely and ready for messaging.

BlackBerry 7 OS Impressions

BlackBerry 7 OS

BlackBerry OS 7 is not incredibly different from BlackBerry OS6. Indeed, BlackBerry OS 7 was once referred to as OS 6.1. It's the hardware changes to these latest BlackBerry Smartphones that forced the version number increase. This OS simply will not run on older BlackBerry phones; they lack the graphical acceleration and magnetometer found in the BlackBerry Torch 9860 and the other OS7 phones. With the new OS 7, users coming from an older BlackBerry device will have no trouble with the familiar BlackBerry experience - on steroids.

That being said, there are a number of small difference in the new OS experience. Menus and popup windows appear and disappear with a little more grace. I've noticed a lot more - and smoother - animation of dialog boxes and popup notifications (like the volume indicator). The boxy selector used to highlight text in OS6 is gone, replaced by the simple indicator arrow found in the latest versions of the BlackBerry PlayBook's OS. Users can now customize what panes appear on the home screen. If you'll pardon the pun, it was a real pain to have to sort through panes to find what you were looking for. Users can even drop down to a single pane, replicating that OS5 home screen that they've missed. As I use this device more and more, I'm confident I will find a number of these small tweaks. It's clear that Research In Motion has been gathering some feedback on how people use their BlackBerry Smartphones. More importantly, they listened.

Most joyous about the latest BlackBerry OS is the improved web browser. Research In Motion states that the browser on the OS7 devices is 40% faster than the one found on the Torch 9800 and 100% faster than the browser on OS5 devices. BlackBerry Smartphones have never been known for their exceptional browsers. That may change.

The Webkit-based browser found on the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 is amazing. Pages load very, very quickly. I've always felt that the browser on my Torch 9800 wasn't slow necessarily because of the wireless mobile network; it is because the device can't process the data quickly enough. The Torch 9850/9860 has more than enough horsepower to get the job done fast.

Also a very nice feature inside the web browser of the 9850/9860 is the ability to play HTML5 videos right inside that browser. Not every site uses YouTube for their videos as CrackBerry.com does. As many websites move to using HTML5 video players, more and more videos will be playable on your BlackBerry.

I really like how the hardware and the software on the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 have come together to produce a superior device. The device feels good in the hands, and the OS is snappy under the fingers. This is the next generation of BlackBerry, and it's a good one.


BlackBerry Torch 9850 /9860 Conclusions

BlackBerry Torch 9860

To me, one of the most striking things about the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 has nothing to do with the device. It's the fact that the opinions of the new Torch can vary so widely. For example, while CrackBerry's founder Kevin Michaluk liked a lot of design aspects of the phone, overall he did not like this phone nearly as much as I, largely due to the user experience of the BlackBerry OS in the absence of a keyboard (he does like the touchscreen experience on the PlayBook tablet). And that's okay.

As much as Kevin thinks RIM built the BlackBerry Bold 9900, which posesses a front-facing physical keyboard, just for him, I can't help but think RIM built the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 just for me, and for other BlackBerry users like me. The lack of a physical keyboard will certainly dissuade some from upgrading to this particular BlackBerry. For me though, the larger sized screen and oh-so thin design of the Torch 9850/9860 are well worth the loss of a physical keyboard.

The curved and flowing lines of the Torch 9850/9860 were designed to let me hold the BlackBerry comfortably as I type in landscape on the redesigned keyboard. The large, colorful screen shows me movies and videos with clarity I've never seen before on a BlackBerry. Web browsing is a dream, plain and simple. Pages load quickly and videos play right inside the browser. I visit a lot of websites with video; on the Torch 9850/9860, I can finally view them. All in all, BlackBerry OS7 on this new Torch is faster, snappier, better. It is the BlackBerry experience I've always wanted.

I've always praised Research In Motion for its options. With BlackBerry, there is oftentimes no one way to do something. There are multiple ways to accomplish the same feat, allowing users to do things their way. I call this BlackBerry Choice. I've usually used this to refer to something in the BlackBerry Operating System, but I feel it applies to the form factors of the BlackBerry Smartphones as well.

We here at CrackBerry and indeed Smartphone Experts have always been firm believers in the fact that there is no perfect Smartphone. Generally, we've applied that to the platforms as a whole. A BlackBerry isn't by definition better than an Android phone. An iPhone isn't better than a BlackBerry. But I think it goes even deeper than that. There is no one BlackBerry Smartphone perfect for everyone. Again, that's okay. Research In Motion has four new BlackBerry OS7 devices on the market. And so we say there's no one BlackBerry perfect for everyone, only the BlackBerry that is perfect for you.

BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Summary

Pros

  • A very quick BlackBerry experience
  • Sculpted, designed, and balanced to fit perfectly in the hand
  • High resolution screen makes for awesome video
  • Web browsing is fast and responsive
  • 720p HD Video recording
  • Virtual keyboard redesigned to prevent incorrect keystrokes

Cons

  • Decent battery, but low coverage areas cause a heavy drain
  • Portrait-style keyboard results in an increase in typing errors; landscape is just fine, though
  • No physical keyboard could hold back some users

Things We're Watching For

  • 3D Games
  • WiFi Hotspot (it's apparently supported by the chipset)
  • Apps and Games; this BlackBerry is quick. We need apps to take advantage
100 comments

jfs101

Night and day between Kevin's and Joseph's reviews...

Kevin Michaluk

Well... I'd argue there's actually a LOT of overlap on a LOT of the points... especially in terms of hardware design, etc.  I loved a lot of things about the 9850/9860 as a device.

Our big difference is in user experience. Joseph's good with the touchscreen-only way of using the BBOS. I find it a bit difficult with touchscreen only (note - PlayBook OS I love... design from the ground up for touchscreen use vs. the BBOS which was adapted to work with a full touchscreen). 

It really depends on the person and their needs. Both me and Joseph are a bit at extreme ends of how we prefer to interact with the BBOS. Some will be more like me (keyboard needed), others more like Joseph (touchscreen only) and some in between (which is why there's a slider Torch too which gets you a keyboard and big screen!).

Comes down to what's the best device for YOU. Torch 9850/9860 is definitely leaps and bounds ahead of the Storms, that's FOR SURE.

jfs101

You are right Kevin, night and day taste in BlackBerry devices would had been more suitable... I've been around here long enough to know your honesty with any device, RIM or not, and to call it like it is.

I liked the 9800 because of the larger screen, didn't use much the virtual keyboard, and I can type fairly fast on the slider keyboard with my King Kong sized hands... After getting a PlayBook the screen size of the phone has become irrelevant as I use it most of the time for web browsing and videos.

If I had not gotten the PlayBook I would seriously had considered the 9810 over the 9900. Now that I have the PlayBook's larger screen my game has changed and it's all about the keyboard. But then again, I might just wait for the QNX phones and skip this generation altogether. Time, temptation and my pocket will have the last word with my next BlackBerry device.

Barefoot_Kevin

"I might just wait for the QNX phones and skip this generation altogether. Time, temptation and my pocket will have the last word with my next BlackBerry device."

+1

feldmen01

I'm having a difficult time deciding between the 9860 and the 9900. I am a Storm2 user but I think I can convert back to a keyboard no problem.

I would love to see Joseph review the 9900 to get a touch screen enthusiast's opinion on a keyboard device. I think that would help by purchase decision a lot.

busyboy31ca

I was a Storm2 user, it broke, so i went with the 9860, and i love it, im use to the keyboard, and pressing to click the letters, no clickie on the torch, kinda hard to get use to the no click and just touch, but love it!!!

raskal1130

This is why I always tell fellow BlackBerry Smartphone users to come to this site. What is so unique about it is that you will not find only one opinion. You will find many others. It is not completely biased to one side. It has many different outlooks on everything about BlackBerry. Yes, I completely agree with Kevin here. All these new devices are to target what is best for you. There is something for everyone from the new devices. Come on at&t, release that Bold 9900 soon. Don't make me wait until November 20th :/.

Joneser2006

Someone liked Joe's review more than Kevin's. Kevin, face it, you were in a hurry and took a dump on the Torch because you are spellbound by the Bold. Fine. But don't whine and act like your review was fair to the device. As much as you think that the BB keyboard is the envy of all messaging smartphone users, it really isn't. You'd sound more credible if you'd accept the fact that consumers want more touch and more screen real estate. Even bona fide professional users. Hopefully you can follow RIM's footsteps, emerge from the proverbial basement of mom's house, and adapt to the real world.

crackcookie

this remark is so off the walls I am unable to tell if it is sarcastic

smarkow

Kevin, as you mention, it definitely comes down to which device is right for YOU. Clearly, by your review, this device is not right for you.

I've watched the first five minutes of this 2nd review of the Torch 9850/60 and in my opinion, its night and day when compared to yours.

I felt like in your review you harped on every thing you didnt like about the device (volume buttons, typing, etc.). Specifically, you really harped on the typing and the difficulty you had, numerous times throughout your review. Whereas in this review, each of those things so far as been mentioned in a positive manner.

Again, it all comes down to which device is right for you. if you really don't think you can get rid of the physical keyboard, then this device is not for you. However, not having a physical keyboard should never be a CON because the device was not meant to have one. If it was a "con", then my review of the Bold Touch would be that the CON is the fact that it HAS a physical keyboard.

Again, as you said, its all relative to which device is right for you. People need to make the decision for themselves by going to the store and trying the device out themselves, and not base their purchase on what you write in your review.

That said, you guys do a great job at crackberry. Keep up the good work.

Barredbard

Yes, this review is astonishing. I have wanted a touchscreen phone for some time. I lusted after Verizon's Storm for years, and even defected to Droids for a wee bit as a result.

When I saw that the bold 9930 and the Torch 9850 were arriving on the Sprint network, I thought that at last I would get some satisfaction. I went to the Sprint store with the express intention of grabbing the Torch.

To my surprise, the Torch is an incredibly ugly phone, whereas in my humble opinion, the Storm form factor was beautiful, to say nothing of its software. It is obvious that RIM lavished quite a bit of love on the 9930, and seemed to have precious little left to spare on the Torch.

It felt cheap, plasticky; an unrelieved rectangular block of plastic and glass. I played with it, and it had a number of immediately apparent problems, including difficulty switching from landscape to portrait mode. I had no choice, I felt, but to get the 9930, even with its lack of screen real-estate. I am still considering heading back for a Droid, since the browsing experience on the 9930 remains abysmal.

And now, this review? Interesting . . .

camera531

I have the Sprint 9850 and it's the best BB I've ever had.

Pirks

Same here. Got 9860 a few days ago and still pull it our of ma holster every 30 minutes and play with it, do some messaging, forum posting and web browsing and of course corporate email. Hehe, if RIM will keep upgrading their hardware and OS as fast as this one I gonna stop worrying about its so called "demise". This phone is THAT sweet! Really.

camera531

It rocks! I've waited 3 years (since the unfortunate storm) for this exact phone.

italirican2003

Which BB did you have before?

camera531

I had the style before this, but many bb's before. I also had the 9930 on Verizon for a few days, but the 9850 won.

RoseBud68

This was a great review, Thank You. Hope to see this soon on AT&T.

lang007

Much better review than Kevin's. ;-)

emirozmen

It's from another point of view, of course its going to be different. Kevin doesn't like only touchscreen phones, he wants the full qwerty physical keyboard. That's why his review was supporting that it's not a really good powerful phone, but Joseph stated in his video that he likes only touchscreen phones. That's why his review is showing this phone as a better phone than Kevin's look.

123berryaddicted

Well. I'm glad there are different personalities/users at crackberry. I for one like Kevin's review better, as I am a power-keyboard-user... Both reviews are good, and look at the phone from 2 DIFFERENT angles/point of views! Good work CB!

Robert22

You really thing, 11 hours battery life is good for Blackberry? Are you kidding? A need 2-3 days, this is what I am used to have on my 9780!!

123berryaddicted

Depends on how heavy you use it. My 9700 (comparable to 9780 in terms of bat life) wouldn't last me 11hrs... So don't take Joe's 11hrs as the gospel... That's for HIM... For you it could last a week, who knows....

Robert22

You should update your OS, to get out from the 9700 only 11 hours is crazy. I use my 9780 very heavy, 2 days are not a problem for anybody in my company.

SnoopTodd

Excellent review Joseph! I largely think I am going to get the 9900 because it is the last 'iconic' BlackBerry before QNX arrives, but i will definitely check out a working model of the 9860 first! Great job!!

birdman_36

Sorry but those raised buttons look dumb.

123berryaddicted

I agree with you here. I wonder if they were just trying to find a way to make it look as little like the storm as possible? - lol

camera531

I think I'm the only person on here that actually REALLY LIKES the raised buttons. I like both the look and feel.

feldmen01

you're not alone.. after a couple years with the buggy, sometimes hard to press buttons on my storm2 I am looking forward to actual buttons.

harits

I am very unhappy with these raised buttons. They are very hard to press. The joy of touch screen with liquid graphics is defeated by putting such hard buttons. Even the buttons on 9800/9810 are much better. Why did BB choose this. I scratched accidently with my nail on the button which removed the layer coating on the buttons.
Liguid Graphics.... Rocky Navigation.

Killaserpent

Great review Joseph, sorry Kevin, I respect yours too but was a little bias but as you said it is a matter of preference. To me who love touchscreens, it appears to be the best full touchscreen BB to date.

Xavier666#CB

And Joseph is admitedly bias towards touch screens. I really like Joseph (Best voice out of the entire Crackberry team!), but I've still some issues with the physical / virtual keyboard showdown

I suggest that the next Blackberry without a keyboard should be a joint review - both camps get their equal say.

Plus, two seperate reviews will be pretty confusing for some people.

Kevin Michaluk

Yep, we already discussed going with more of a team concept for some of our future reviews... make sure we fully encompass the crack team, vs. members of the crack team.  Also think it would make sense to put emphasis on the usage case for the device up front... as in who is this device geared towards.

Xavier666#CB

Agreed!

Now can we get Joseph to do all the videos? His voice is like warm honey to my ears... :)

tnahumck

I know there is at least one post in the forums about the SureType keyboard. I use that keyboard almost exclusively on my Storm2, so it would be nice to know how how it compares. Any chance you can add that to the review Joe?

rickbansal

Thanks for the great write up. I cannot wait (too much longer) for VZN to get it in. Need to dump my S1 and may have to jump ship to Sprint.

lassie88

I agree completely! I have been waiting for Verizon to say they are releasing this phone. I check this site every morning like its, well crack lol. But I have ignored all the people trying to persuade me to leave Blackberry and join one of the other companies. My storm was my first Blackberry and I love RIM and I want this phone. Please Verizon make this announcement ASAP.

FranzJoseph

Great review! I always thought that this BlackBerry had a very strikig appearance, it looks amazing. Alas, like Kevin I am a physical keyboard type of guy so I am happily rockigj my Bold 9900!

alexkinsella

Hi @FranzJoseph,

Alex from RIM here. I’m with you on the physical keyboard! While the Torch 9860’s 3.7-inch display is great for showing off web pages, videos, photos and games – I personally use the Bold 9900 because I love the larger keyboard and how it feels in my hand. It’s really all a matter of preference, and the great thing is that all of our new smartphones rock the BlackBerry 7 OS for a quicker and more fluid user experience.

We love hearing how BlackBerry owners are using their devices. When you have a chance, I’d love to hear a few examples – either here, on Twitter (@BlackBerry) or on Facebook (http://bbry.lv/bdmrXv).

Cheers,
Alex, RIM Social Media Team

EchoTango

Great review and much more balanced from the virtual keyboard perspective.

Kevin also did a great job, but I got the feeling he did the review with "one arm twisted behind his back".... This one clearly comes from a fan of virtual keyboards and it shows.

Of course I'm going to find some fault.........sorry Joseph. Since this handset is designed to directly compete against the iPhone, so how does it stack up ?

Again, great review and kudos to Crackberry for "manning-up" and re-loading this review.

djdonnyk

Great 2nd review Joe, I would also like to see another review head to head with the I-Phone. After reading the specs there not to much different. My 9850 is on the UPS truck as I type, sitting here patiently waiting on it's arrival.

swiedom

This is killing me... I need Verizon to release this!

falconeight

Its a great phone and should compete very well against the iPhone 3g and 1st gen mytouch.

chiefbroski

That's a pretty backhanded compliment considering this phone is HSPA+, has higher resolution, faster processor, magnetometer, better camera, better RAM, has autofocus, better bluetooth, better video, better battery life, better wifi, better browser than the iphone 3G...

And almost all those features better than the mytouch.

Come on man...its comments like those that make you sound like the biggest troll in the world.

falconeight

Its garbage and doesn't compete. The OS is old, the screen is plastic, the LCD is garbage, the battery won't last a full day, the buttons are stupid, its screen is to long. Like I said it will do good against year old phones and with rimbots who will buy a cardboard box as long as it has a rim symbol on it. Its junk plain and simple period.

Robert22

I fully agree with you. The forum here must be full of RIM employees ;-)

feldmen01

Very informative! I especially like your review on the buttons...

I concur, they are rather, what was the descriptor you used again? Oh yes, "stupid".

Writing reviews must be your full time job, otherwise it should be!

I would also like to thank you for pointing out that the screen is rather long. You have done everyone a great service and you should be given a medal. We should not sit back idly while these companies release phones with elongated screens! We must come together!

Short stubby screens justice league unite!

jope28

Damn you!
You made me laugh and spit out my Corn Pops with milk.

chiefbroski

"Bahahahahahaha..."

Sincerely,
Crackberry

babyspeeks

I'm sorry, I couldn't keep up with your poor grammar. You lost me at "Its."

shuabert

The screen is plastic? No shit. Because having a glass screen has worked so well on the iPhone, which breaks the first time it gets dropped.

iDefected

I saw broken iPhone screens constantly at my previous job, they don't fall well.

danimalchil

You're a fool. What are you doing here again?

sivan

Why would anyone want this over the iPhone?

A touchscreen device from RIM made sense when the category was new and RIM had a chance to compete with the first and 3G iPhone. Now, it's just hard to find a use for this.

Other than YouTube, you have to rip DVDs or download torrents to watch anything on this. Who would do something like this except for nerds? It's too late for a touch screen from RIM and it takes away from the brand.

chiefbroski

Maybe because some people need to get their work email securely on a Blackberry and want a touchscreen? Or want to use BBM's awesome groups, notifications, lists, and calendar syncing.

Jeez.

Just because you don't want it doesn't mean everybody else doesn't.

camera531

Just because you want a touchscreen doesn't necessarily mean you want angry birds and a half million apps. I really like the BB OS and the unique benefits it brings, but I also like using a full touchscreen for web browsing, Facebook, videos, etc. It brings these two things together, without trying to be an iPhone. I honestly don't think this is an iPhone wannabe, it's a different concept for a different user.

sivan

Sure, but how significant is that market of people who want a secure messaging but also a touchscreen device? Any phone will find buyers but is it worth it to make one?

RIM is making a statement with this, and it simply cannot compete with the iPhone at this point. RIM offers nothing that would cause a touchscreen device user to take a look. RIM should stay true to what it does best, just like Apple does, uncompromisingly.

chiefbroski

To me, the iPhone is a compromising experience for many reasons I won't mention here. To others, a bb is compromising. To each his own.

DaedalusIcarusHelios

There are plenty of people who fit that description. Obviously that doesn't include you. Take off your blinders and realize not everyone loves the iPhone. I got the 3G and then the 4 for my wife, and I've played with them previously and since, but there are certain things I can't stand about the iPhone. Sure, as a media consumption device its great, but I find it severely lacking in its messaging functionality, especially in regards to my work email. I'm a sys admin and I utilize rules for email to go into folders, and there are some I don't want to go to my BB. I can implement Level 1 alerts for messages that I deem necessary, and have the alerts I don't care about not forwarded to my phone. Plus I get the emails almost always BEFORE my outlook client on my laptop gets them. I also utilize wireless syncing of notes and tasks from exchange.

That's just one area where I find the BlackBerry OS superior (there are many more). Obviously if the strengths of the platform don't benefit you, then that's not a plus in your experience, but realize the iPhone is NOT the best device in all aspects to all people.

The 9850 will be my next phone. I've been using BB for years now and took advantage of its smartphone features well before the iPhone. Sure, some of those features may have been limited to what the iPhone and Droid devices bring to the table, but RIM is catching up in those areas.

I am sure this device will do well. No, its not an iPhone killer and realize that nothing will be, because many people that like the iPhone are obsessed with the image and marketing of the device, and its strengths have been played up to be the things that everyone should want. Most people don't even realize that competing platforms the same functionality, with a different user experience (in some ways better, in others not as good).

Apple compromises all the time, but they tell you its something you don't need. They lack certain features and functionality that they implement later with great fanfare, but prior to that their fans are mostly convinced that those lacking features and functionality are extraneous.

You go ahead and enjoy your iPhone, and I'll enjoy the 9850 as soon as Verizon gets off its butt and releases it.

chiefbroski

Thanks Mr. Holder! Great stuff! Exactly what I was looking for. I believe all my primary concerns regarding the crapiness of the Storm 1 were rectified in this BB.

Although I disagree with saying that physical keyboards are superior in messaging. I write 500 word emails with my Storm in a few minutes no problem. It's pure preference. Its OK to HATE physical keyboards.

This is for all the Storm users (representin' yo, deez peeps be frontin da touch BB) that can message like BEASTS without a physical keyboard.

Maybe a 9 is a little high, but I haven't used one yet so what do I know...

Come on Telus, start selling this thing!

SCPanther13

Very nice review, really whets my appetite to try one in my hand. Still is a bit silly to list lack of keyboard as a negative on a touchscreen-only device. Please go back to your Bold review and edit the Bad section to read, "If you like touchscreen only devices, the fact that there's a keyboard taking up half the screen may dissuade you."

:p

mickeyboat

Wow, after the earlier review I was ready to wait for the Colt. Now I am ready to purchase the 9850 if and when Verizon sells it. Great review. My usage is similar to the reviewer and the 9850 should fit my needs perfect. I may have missed it but did you try it bridged to a PB?

El Cid

Nice post/review, I prefer the physical keyboards, however, I have had no issues whatsoever with the PlayBook's virtual keyboard as it is a device perfectly designed for average sized guys hands, I will wait until the arrival of the QNX phone to decide what new BB shall replace my current one.

Joe257

Thank you, Joe. I needed this!!! The first review was disappointing and I didn't give it much credit because it was from a physical keyboard perspective. Not everyone wants a physical keyboard -- some value screen space more.

Nevertheless, with my Storm, I have written pages and pages of text in a short stint with no grief or worry. Without SurePress, I don't know how realistic this will be on the 50/60. I like the feedback the Samsung Galaxy S II has when typing. It's a single vibrate. It's nice and reassuring. Wish RIM could at least provide some sort of feedback like that!!!

Robert22

OMG, such an uncritical comments. I understand, this is a server for RIM freaks, but everything should have its limit. Really, nobody wants see the weak battery and the crapy camera? I like RIM, I have the Bold 9780, but the last generation of Blackberries cannot be compared with the neweste phones on the market. In my opinion, RIM made a big mistake, they had to build a real Bold 9000 successor, not hunting the most thin phone....

Joe257

I partially agree with you! While THIN is nice, long battery life is nicer. I'd ALWAYS go for a slightly bigger battery to avoid having to charge in mid-stream. Just not acceptable! This is why I'll never go Android as most Android phones won't go past 6 hours. Last time I checked, a full day at the office is often 12 hours.

Regarding the "crappy camera", I don't see how 5 MP is crappy. Camera quality has much more to do with lens quality and image processing than the sensitivity of the sensor. Too many folks look at the sensor and forget that the lens matters much more. I'm not saying the BlackBerry lenses are better, but you just can't look at the number of megapixels as a gauge of quality -- never.

Finally, the 9900/9930 is indeed a very worthy successor to the 9000. It definitely out performs the 9000 in every way possible, except perhaps battery life... and this is where I'll agree with you a bit.

Nevertheless, many people have told RIM that they cannot be excessively concerned about battery life when folks want a "sleek and thin" smartphone. I think these guys really want Androids, so go get an Android phone. RIM should continue to lead in battery life. After all, business DEMANDS it! Business will never wait for a phone to charge.

BigBuffBerry

Just tried it at the sprint store and i LOVE it. The KB is much easier to type on than the Storm 2. I had no problem typing in portrait mode either. The phones is very fast.. though the 9900 scrolls side to side much faster. I like the raised buttons also because my crappy storm 2 buttons rarely work properly. Go RIm!

TommyBB

Thank you Joseph! Finally a proper review from a true full touchscreen head!

mtnspokes

Thanks for the re-review, but please take "lack of keyboard" out of the Cons list. It would be a negative if it had a keyboard but it didn't work correctly. You don't see "Lack of full touchscreen" in the cons list of the 9900. As your review indicated, they are two different devices with different purposes that will appeal to different users.

I'd like to see a camera comparison between the three new devices.

Do physical buttons make anyone else nervous?? I'm wondering if dirt and lint can get in and foul them up over time like it did with the trackball or are they sealed better?

The_Engine

Any chance we would see tge SureType keyboard avail in portrait mode. That was the best keyboard in portrait once you got used to it.

Joe257

SureType was never accurate enough for me. I suppose if you are writing common words it works well, since those words are in the dictionary. If you're into technology like me, then most words won't be in the dictionary and it would suck. If you also abbreviate and use acronyms a lot, SureType gets confused. After you go over and over trying to type what you need, you eventually have to switch keyboards. Not fun!

It took me 3 weeks with my Storm fighting with it before I had to just ditch SureType and TRUST the full portrait keyboard. I never looked back!

SureType has no future since it is tied to a dictionary of common words.

tsunkai

I thought you could add words to your custom dictionary?

tsunkai

Yes - that is an option on my Torch 9850. Under keyboard options, choose "reduced" keyboard in portrait mode, and you get the sure-type keyboard. I use it and love it!

Paunngaq

Great review! For Kevin too.

I would really love to have the 9850. Anyone know if Bell is going to carry it? I'm with Bell for a couple more years and where I live at the moment is CDMA only (sucks!) so I'd need to upgrade to the 9850.

Please Bell offer the Torch 9850!

Cheers,
Paunngaq

Beakman

It's a shame politics prevents the 9860 being compared with it's demographic predecessor, the Storm 2, which I happen to like more than my Torch1. I would like to know how typing on those two screens compare as well as balance and feel. Unfortunately, dare not speak the name.

Joe257

Darn it, what's so wrong about the Storm name????

It was a great device, a physical marvel in engineering! It actually won several awards and RIM has several patents against it. I LOVE MY STORM.

I HATE THE STORM's BBOS 5.0.

I HATED THE STORM's BBOS 4.7 EVEN MORE!!!!

It is the OS that SUCKED not the phone! My Storm is 3 years old and I just wished I got a more updated OS to run on it. Perhaps this was why RIM was considering the Storm 2 refresh! While I hated that concept because I needed a Storm 3, I can see why RIM entertained that idea!

kmonarq7

Joseph, as a long time Storm user, thanks for giving this the second run through. I've lived and died with my Storm (both 1&2), and have been waiting forever for this device. I think that the touchscreen devices don't get much of a run in the blogosphere with the competition from iOS or Android.

Keep rockin' it!!!!

Joneser2006

Now I get it, why would I think that the 9850/9860 would have even been developed? I mean, with everyone falling all over themselves apologizing for the absence of a physical keyboard, why was the device made? Virtual keyboards are totally inept for communication after all. In fact, 90 the 2 leading OSes don't have a physical kb and their phones are useless, right?
Puleez, no wonder RIM has slowly but surely been getting buried. No, not RIM, just the enlightened egos on CB that can't figure out how to operate a touch screen keyboard without whining like little 2 year olds.

Jimcmf

Joseph ...... you have a great radio voice.
Do you do radio at all?

KOOLWATER

Great job CRACKBERRY TEAM!!!! Love the professionalism and the average JOE characteristics you guys possess.

JTWJ

Just ordered my 9850 from Sprint this morning. I am so excited.

shuabert

Joseph, what are your thoughts on this phone for former Storm users? I'm not a huge fan of touchscreen typing, but I found the tactile feedback on the Storm's SurePress technology to be a big help. I'm trying to decide between this and the 9810 (which, now that I've used the physical keyboard, is really appealing), but I'm hesitant about embracing a touchscreen without any tactile response while typing. I just really love the look and the larger screen of this device.

shuabert

Joseph, what are your thoughts on this phone for former Storm users? I'm not a huge fan of touchscreen typing, but I found the tactile feedback on the Storm's SurePress technology to be a big help. I'm trying to decide between this and the 9810 (which, now that I've used the physical keyboard, is really appealing), but I'm hesitant about embracing a touchscreen without any tactile response while typing. I just really love the look and the larger screen of this device.

shuabert

Joseph, what are your thoughts on this phone for former Storm users? I'm not a huge fan of touchscreen typing, but I found the tactile feedback on the Storm's SurePress technology to be a big help. I'm trying to decide between this and the 9810 (which, now that I've used the physical keyboard, is really appealing), but I'm hesitant about embracing a touchscreen without any tactile response while typing. I just really love the look and the larger screen of this device.

shuabert

Joseph, what are your thoughts on this phone for former Storm users? I'm not a huge fan of touchscreen typing, but I found the tactile feedback on the Storm's SurePress technology to be a big help. I'm trying to decide between this and the 9810 (which, now that I've used the physical keyboard, is really appealing), but I'm hesitant about embracing a touchscreen without any tactile response while typing. I just really love the look and the larger screen of this device.

farooes

hey i live in saudi arabia and i'm just wondering if anyone knows when does this phone come out there? if you know plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz reply

fastcivic416

amazing review! thanks for putting in the time and effort into this!

mjkep

I began my BB journey with the 8330 Curve, then the 9650 Bold and now I have had this phone since 7-24-11. The learning curve to the touch keyboard was quick and as each day passes I find myself more and more pleased with my decision. Very quick responsiveness, fast internet load and manipulation, incredible images captured on the 5mp cam and the HD video rivals my Flip. I'm certain there are a plethora of attributes still to discover. Very pleased indeed.

tsunkai

One thing I haven't seen mentioned on any of the reviews is the option to use the sure-type keyboard in portrait mode. As a former Pearl owner, I loved the sure-type keyboard and the phone's ability to predict the words you were typing. I found the touchscreen version on my Torch 9850 is even better than the physical keyboard on my old Pearl because it's so sensitive. I can really fly through messages, often completing words before the phone can even predict them (you may never have to physically type a word longer than 5 or 6 letters again as the phone will predict it). So I have to disagree that this phone is not good for heavy message typers - I think it's actually better - it's certainly a lot quieter. I can whip out a message in complete silence while the guy with the physical keyboard is clickity clacking away!

tkong

I didn't know the screen is plastic either. I'm intrigued. I'm looking forward to it arriving tomorrow.

TPS_Report

3G/4G is not correct.... this phone is 3G only. Which I was pretty surprised (and a bit dissapointed) to find out.
But the 3G is VERY damn fast - especially since I have an Airave in my house.

rmsdds52

After reading the post from "WHY would you prefer the BB over the iPhone?" :

My daughter strayed from BB out of sheer curiousity and got an iPhone. In less than a month, she was back to BB. I bought the iPhone from her, again, out of sheer curiousity, and in a WEEK, I ordered the Torch 9850...

There is just something about BB. It is a useful tool not loaded down with "stuff".
The iPhone seemed more like a toy. The BB seems more like a tool.
I don't need another toy.

There is a simplicity and a basicness to Blackberry that I just am comfortable with.

But I will say this: the week I spent with an iPhone really seems to have prepared me for OS7. For that I am grateful!

TIMSHULL

Nice review Joseph,now If only at&t would release this !

Yamcha

You know I'm not a big fan of Blackberry phones, and I could say the same about this one.. It just looks clunky, too many plastic parts for my liking.. They should've made the look more like the Playbook.. And sure plastic screens may be more durable, but glass has more of a quality feel..

bastonimacaroni

I have been using a physical key pad from my first smartphone, a Palm Treo 280 12 years ago thru to a Treo Pro. switched to a BB curve two years ago and got my Torch 9850 a week ago. The virtual keyboard was a bit tricky...the review is very fair on that point. But guess what...either i am getting better or the learning curve of the phones software is incredible. But I am now typing faster with less errors than with the physical keyboard. the predictive text, just seems to get it right more and more often. And it sure is easier on the fingers as I don't have to press. RIM just needs to ween the rest of y'all off the keyboard over time.

rashad82

can anybody tell me how to load HD movies/videos to the blackberry 9850? like the guy did with the Dr. Who clip. thanks

TheYalier

I fell in love with this phone but I don't know if it's right for me. This year I'll be running crazy and on the go for a long time. Can this get the job done or should I just get a Bold 9900 instead? The lack of a physicall keyboard on this one is making me a little aprehensive as I'll need to use it a lot.