BlackBerry Torch 9860 Review

"The BlackBerry Torch 9860 is a great media and web browsing device. With its smooth design and snappy processor, fans of touchscreen devices will eat it up, but those that rely on heavy messaging may want to pass for a full QWERTY device."

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Hero
By Kevin Michaluk on 16 Aug 2011 01:35 am EDT

The Video - Torch 9860 First Walkthrough

Everything you need to know about the BlackBerry Torch 9860 in 10 minutes! Well, maybe not quite everything, but you'll get a good look at the hardware and software in this video tour by CrackBerry Kevin.

Youtube Link (expand video for full view)

The Good

We love the amazing screen on the Torch 9860. The size and feel of the device is just right. Having more screen space means better media and web viewing. 

The Bad

There are sadly quite a few "bads" when it comes to the Torch 9860. It's not our favorite device, but it is still a good choice for those getting into BlackBerry and looking for the full-touch experience. 


While the Torch 9860 isn't the best BlackBerry out there, it definitely still has some flair. If you're big into messaging and need to get things done quickly, the 9860 may not be for you. Media hounds and those that love to browse the web on the go will find the screen size to be just the ticket. 


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

The BlackBerry Torch 9860 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)

While waiting for what seemed like forever for these new BlackBery 7 Smartphones to arrive, we were all pretty pumped to get our hands on all of them. While we were most exicted about the BlackBerry Bold 9900 given our BlackBerry fanboy ways, we also were super eager to check out the latest addition to the Torch line in that of the BlackBerry Torch 9860. With both GSM (9860) and CDMA (9850) versions of the device, there is plenty of carrier love to go around. The awesome 3.7" screen is definitely an eye catcher, and there is no question that at some point down the pipe the Torch 9860 would have fallen into the Storm line of devices -- but RIM was smart in moving on and keeping the popular Torch name flaming while leaving the Storm behind. 

Keep in mind that while this review is centered around the GSM Torch 9860, the Torch 9850 for CDMA carriers is for all intensive purposes, identical. However, we have also given the Torch 9850 a hands-on look, so be sure to also check out our BlackBerrry Torch 9850 Review and our follow-up BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Review, Take 2!, which looks at the new Torch from more of a touchscreen-fan perspective. Be sure to keep tabs on our BlackBerry 7 Smartphone Pricing and Release Dates page to see where things are at for you.

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Hardware Impressions

At first glance the BlackBerry Torch 9860 doesn't look much like your typical BlackBerry. There is obviously no physical keyboard on the device, so without the shiny BlackBerry logo on top, you may not know right away this is a RIM device. The Torch 9860 breaks off from the design and form of nearly every other BlackBerry we've known. It doesn't show much of a resemblance to the BlackBerry Torch 9800, but rather feels closer to a mix of the BlackBerry Storm 2 and BlackBerry Pearl 3G when in hand. 

The front of the Torch 9860 sports a hot 3.7" touchscreen that takes over most of the device. Left at the bottom are the four navigation buttons (Send, Menu, Back and End) with a trackpad stuck in the middle. While the glowing trackpad may not be as iconic yet as the BlackBerry keyboard, it *should* help to distinguish the Torch 9860 from the competition in what has become a market flooded with full touchscreen devices. I do like the fancy new illuminated trackpad, but I'm not the biggest fan of the raised buttons. I wish RIM has gone with more of an 85xx series styling with flat buttons across the board. This would have made them more a part of the device and not taken away from the looks at all. I argued previously that raised buttons were the way to go as they provide more tactile feedback allowing for better one handed-ease of use, but in this case I think form over function may have been better. 

The way they are raised now feels a bit awkward and even the backlight on the buttons isn't nearly as smooth as on the Bold 9900. Hopefully if the rumored Curve 9380 sees the light of day we can wipe this off the list as we've seen the flush buttons in place already. I feel that they are what the Torch 9860 should have had, but maybe RIM wants to save them for a new device. It almost seems backwards in a sense and would have fit better if the Torch buttons were flush and the raised were saved for the future Curve.

Moving along to the sides of the device we have the standard BlackBerry fare. The right of the Torch 9860 has the 3.5mm headphone jack up top along with volume buttons and the device's only convenience key down the side. Here is where things start to go south for me. The volume buttons and convenience key just lose me this time. I always felt these keys on my Bold 9780 and Torch 9800 were a bit small, but they did work well and I never had any issues. As for the Torch 9860, I'm not sure where the "thinner is better" design came into the picture.

As you can see, the buttons are super thin and don't feel well at all under your fingers. If you rub them side to side a bit it almost feels like they could snap right off. They are a bit thinner than the edge of a dime, and without much surface area, at times I was almost afraid to push too hard on them for fear of damage. But wait - there's more! I nearly forgot to meniton the Mute/Play/Pause button that is so neatly nestled between the volume buttons ... because it's that small. I played with the device for nearly two full days before I found the button. It's super small but surprisingly is the sturdiest of the lot. 

The left side of the device looks a bit lonely as the only thing that resides there is the microUSB port. The port is directly in the middle of the device which does make for good charging pod placement. It could have really ended up anywhere on the side without interfering, so dead center works for me.

The top and bottom of the Torch 9860 are pretty much part of the flow of the front given the curved design. Nothing super special to note along the bottom aside from the microphone - no frills, no nothing.


The top of the device holds the lock button which was worked very nicely to be one solid piece. It's not really a separate button, yet it's more like the Bold 9700/9780 and is all one happy piece of the pie. Very nice to see that it's integrated and not a separate piece like the front buttons.

The back of the device is plain and simple. Notably lacking however is the Torch branding we'd expect to see. The name isn't anwywhere on the device which just seems a bit odd. All of the last few devices RIM has cranked out have the branding right smack on the device, yet this time it's mysteriously absent. The 5MP camera and flash sit over the top of the all-metal battery door. Interesting to note is that the only place the device is branded is here on the battery door. There is no carrier branding on the front of the Torch 9860 (note, the Torch unit photoed is completely free of carrier branding).

The battery door brings back the metal of the Storm series and I actually like it quite a bit. It doesn't feel cheap at all and is very firm in place without any looseness. While I feel the metal door may be more prone to get scuffed up than some other devices, I think it fits well and was a good choice on the Torch 9860. I did have a few issues popping it off at first as I wasn't sure which way the release button should go, but once you pop it a few times it's smooth sailing.

Under the hood we have the new JM-1 battery that is also in the Bold 9900/9930. The microSD memory card and SIM care both have their own parking spaces. The mircoSD card can be freely inserted or removed from the device with the battery in place, however the SIM card slot is only free when the battery is removed. I did have a decent amount of trouble with the fancy SIM card slide (that we first saw on the Pearl 3G). I couldn't quite get a grip on it with my fingers, so it took a bit of doing to get it so slide enough to pop out the SIM card. 

Coming back finally to the overall feel of the Torch 9860, once thing I didn't mention is just how good the Torch 9860 feels when held in landscape. The way the back of the device has been sculpted makes the ends of the phone easy and comfortable to grip, much like the controller on a gaming console (maybe beter). It really feels great. You can comfortable hold the Torch 9860 in only your right hand and easily use the BlackBerry navigation buttons that are present. Bring on some 3D racing games for the Torch 9860, as I can't wait to do some air driving with it.

Processor / Chipset / Performance

BlackBerry Bold 9900

All of the newly-announced BlackBerry 7 Smartphones, including the BlackBerry Bold 9900, 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 1.2GHz, the processing power is more than double the speed of previous full touchscreen BlackBerrys (yes, we mean the Storms). In addition to more speed, this hardware platform upgrade addresses a lot of the other nagging wants we've had for a while now, including 3D graphics support (has been lacking to date on GSM BlackBerrys), HD video recording and more.

The new chipset makes using the 9860 pretty awesome. As BlackBerry users, we're fairly ok with seeing the dreaded hourglass from time to time and just getting over it. With the new hardware that is a thing of the past. Everything is snappy as it should be and even if that little hourglass shows it's face, you can most times carry on within a few seconds and go about your business.

Touchscreen Display

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Web Browsing
Web browsing on the Torch 9860 is pretty awesome

The touchscreen on the Torch 9860 is where it's at. By that I don't mean "it's the greatest touchscreen ever", I mean that really all there is to the device is the touchscreen. Without it you'd have a few buttons and a trackpad and couldn't get very far. 3.7" is a great size for a device like this. It's big enough to get things done, watch videos and enjoy browsing the web; but at the same time it isn't overkill like some devices with larger 4.3" screens. The screen on the Torch 9860 breaks away from the hardened glass of other devices like the Torch 9810 and Bold 9900 in favor of a hardened, scratch protected plastic display. This allows for the shape of the device and also makes it a bit lighter. The screen does feel a bit "sticky" compared to the glass screens however. I noticed more than a few times when scrolling my finger would get hung up a bit. This isn't anything to go crazy about as once you use the device for a few hours you get used to it, but it's interesting to note the different feel of the screen. 

At 480x800 resolution the 9860's display is awesome for viewing media and web browsing. At 253ppi you get amazing clarity and everything looks bright and bold. Having that extra space when using the web browser is a huge bonus, and it definitely makes watching movies more pleasing than on the more square screen of a BlackBerry like the Bold 9900. 


BlackBerry Torch 9860 Virtual Keyboard
The keyboard works, but it does prove difficult at times for me... many of you will love it

Typing on the virtual keyboard of the Torch 9860 is where things start to stray a bit more for me. I do like the feel of the device and having all that real estate is a huge bonus, but when it comes to actually communicating -- be it BBM, SMS, email or what have you -- the BlackBerry virtual keyboard still doesn't cut it for me.

The virtual keyboard on the Torch 9860 isn't terrible, but it does have it's quirks. Some typos could be attributed to my lack of BlackBerry touchscreen typing experience I suppose, but I still think there is room for improvement. When using the device I actually had to think about what I would want to type as far as emails or messages, just so I could limit my typing on the keyboard and cut down on errors. I do like having the trackpad available for when mistakes are made though as you can much more easily scroll to where you need to correct rather than pecking at the screen with your finger trying to get the cursor where it needs to be.  Overall I just had a difficult time using the keyboard and I'm not fully sold on it currently. Keep in mind this is ME talking. Other members of the CrackBerry team think the BlackBerry virtual keyboard is best in Business, and I know of a few RIM people who've been using the 9860 exclusively for a while now and just absolutely love the keyboard and device. I guess it's all about priorities and what you get used to. But for me, while I do enjoy the larger display of the Torch, losing the ability to type what I need to, when I need to just doesn't weigh enough to part with a full QWERTY keyboard.


BlackBerry Torch 9860 Storage

The Torch 9860 is rocking 768MB of RAM and 4GB of on board storage. This is a huge step up from previous BlackBerry devices and really makes a difference with BlackBerry 7. Everything runs smoothly and "hourglassing" is really non-existent on the 9860. I really love how much better the new devices run thanks to bigger processors and the added RAM. The devices still have large OS' so it does take away from the leftover free space, but BlackBerry applications aren't all that big so having more free space isn't really necessary at this time (and remember, developers can make big apps - they just need to offload the creative to the memory card to get piped in from there). 

Battery Life

I haven't had the Torch 9860 for long at the time of this writing, but so far it appears there's nothing spectacular to report on in regards to battery life. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a BlackBerry. I found the Torch 9860 could last an entire work day for me with no issues.  The device was running on Wifi all day and I'd say my usage was average. BBMs, emails and a few phone calls. I fear that times when I'm away from the office will be much worse however. Running off Wifi and using cellular data combined with higher usage may push the battery life down a great deal (think Torch 9800 battery life). Obviously rocking out any media for extended periods of time will cut that number down tremendously as well. Overall it's not the greatest battery life (viva la 9700!!) but it's not close to being the worst either. We'll give it a few more real world spins and see if we can pin down the real daily average battery life.

Phone & Audio

Call quality on the Torch 9860 is on par with most BlackBerry devices. I made a few test calls and had no problems through any of them. I was told I was a bit tough to hear at points when using the speakerphone, but aside from that I can't say I have any complaints on the phone end of things.

Audio I'd give a 7 out of 10 on the 9860. Watching videos was great as things were super clear and overall the audio was good. I did find that having the device down on a table the audio actually sounded better. Due to the position of the speaker, the audio seems to get lost a bit and sounds tinny when holding the device up. Of course using a set of earbuds or headphones helps the cause in this case, and the audio scores much higher depending on your choice of ear wear. 


BlackBerry Torch 9860 HD Video Recording
HD Video recording is a welcome addition

The camera on the BlackBerry Torch 9860 is actually much better than I had expected. Using the phone in landscape to take photos almost felt more like a small digital camera than a phone. The 9860 has a 5MP continuous auto-focus camera that also records video in 720p HD (which is sweet!). I had few issues taking photos and even got some great closeup shots with few adjustments. Overall I'm super impressed with the camera on the 9860. Stay tuned to CrackBerry - we'll be following up with some great photo comparison shots soon.

Voice-activated Universal Search

Voice-Activated Universal Search
Voice Activated Universal Search

One of the extremely pleasant surprises was the Voice-activated Universal Search. In my tests is was nearly 100% on everything that I threw at it. Having this option when there is no keyboard is a huge plus -- if you use Universal Search much at all you will find the same. I varied my queries from names to help options to the more complex phrases for email and the Torch 9860 was quick in snagging each one and really gave me no errors or "mis-hears" at all. So it's by far one of the best features of the device and once you learn to master it you'll be able to search like a champ with just a few taps. It's so good in fact that I wish there was built in speech-to-text for every app on the device. That would be a game changer for me and I'd have to scrap 80% of this review and start fresh. Keep in mind the radio does need to be turned on for Voice Universal Search to work (the translation doesn't happen on the phone, but in the cloud). Kind of funny - on my Bold 9900 review I said I'd never use Voice Search. Why would you with a keyboard always there? But on the Torch 9860 I think it's a great feature. 

Other Internals - Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi , Other Sensors

Bluetooth: The 9860 has Bluetooth. It's there and it works. It's pretty standard on all devices now, so it is what it is. 

GPS: The 9860 has GPS and works surprisingly well. In the apps I tried it found my location quickly. 

WiFi: 802.11 2.4GHz b/g/n is present. The Torch 9860 doesn't get the addition of 5GHz a/n that is in the Bold 9900.

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Accessories

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Cases

I'm a big accessories fan, so can't let a review go by without addressing them. The BlackBerry Torch 9860 is an all new form factor of BlackBerry, so once again it means most of your accessories will be in need of replacing, with the exception of microUSD cards and microUSB charger. We'll be getting lots of BlackBerry Torch 9860 Cases and Torch 9860 Accessories in stock, so be sure to keep it locked to and the blogs here as we review everything new. If you're reading this and live in Canada, be sure to check out the CrackBerry Canada Store.

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Hardware Wrap-Up

Ultimately the BlackBerry Torch 9860 is a great device. If you're used to a touchscreen phone then transition to BlackBerry by way of the Torch 9860 will be an easy task. You'll have to adjust to the keyboard (depend on what platform you're moving from) but aside from that it's all very straight forward. Current BlackBerry users that know and love their QWERTY keyboard may have a bit of trouble picking up the 9860 and expecting to be right where they left off. Will you have trouble with the virtual keyboard? It's hard to say as everyone is different. I really don't think full touchscreen phones are for me.... yet. I have a feeling that wll change with the first QNX/BlackBerry SuperPhone that is rumored to be a full touchscreen device. When it comes to the BlackBerry OS, I love me some keyboard and at the end of the day, not having one held me back a bit (and I keep tablets around for that big touch experience). I don't want to think about replying to messages based on how much I'd have to type, I want to respond what I what knowing I can crank out what I need on a solid keyboard. Will it kill off other touchscreen devices? I doubt it. RIM knows what they do best in their full QWERTY devices like the Bold 9900, but they still need to branch out and get those users that want the touchscreen experience. The Torch 9860 goes the distance and is a HUGE improvement over the BlackBerry Storms, but for seasoned BlackBerry vets it still has its shortcomings. At times the device seems sluggish in comparison to the Bold 9900. Having the same internals it doesn't really make sense, but I'm thinking we can chalk it up to the processor pushing a bit more to drive the higher resolution screen of the Torch 9860.

I love the 9860 for media and web browsing without a doubt. The large 3.7" screen is amazing for watching videos and even amazinger (I know it's not a word) for browsing the web. Something about that landscape view just makes it so much easier to get lost when browsing on the 9860. The phone is fast, light and well designed. I won't contradict what I said earlier about the convenience keys and front keys, but I do like the look of the 9860. It lacks a bit in certain areas, but it's got the juice in the tank to get things done like only a BlackBerry can.  

BlackBerry 7 OS Impressions

BlackBerry 7 OS

The BlackBerry OS got a major overhaul last year with the debut of BlackBerry 6 on the Torch 9800, which modernized the user experience and optimized it for touchscreen displays (see our in-depth BlackBerry 6 Review). In addition, it introduced a WebKit rendering engine that addressed BlackBerry's historically poor web browsing experience.

While BlackBerry 6 fundamentally changed the homescreen and user experience, BlackBerry 7 refines it and adds new features based on the capabilities of the updated hardware platform. This is the primary reason RIM re-branded what was originally BlackBerry 6.1 to BlackBerry 7. Because many of the improvements found in BlackBerry 7 are tied to the hardware -- hardware that doesn't exist on the current in-market BlackBerry Smartphones -- BlackBerry 6 Smartphones won't be able to update to BlackBerry 7. Distancing the OS numbers helps deliver this message. Plus BlackBerry 7 just sounds cooler than BlackBerry 6.1.

The biggest hardware-related software change is the implementation of "Liquid Graphics," a term RIM has trademarked that reflects the hardware-accelerated graphics experience of BlackBerry 7. While it seems a bit silly to brand something that's been on other platforms for years, we love the results - this is a much more responsive, smoother BlackBerry interface.

There are plenty of little tweaks within BlackBerry 7 as well. Perhaps the biggest is the added ability to hide the (annoying) home screen panes. We were never really big fans, so this is a total win. Also snuck in are a few menu options and other functions that add to the BlackBerry 7 goodness. You can now add names/email address to existing contacts, the advanced Gmail options like starring and archiving are available in the Inbox app and plenty of other hidden gems. We'll get a full walkthrough of BlackBerry 7 soon, but for now trust that the updated OS certainly picked up some pieces where 6 left off. 

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Conclusions

BlackBerry Torch 9860
A full touchscreen experience on a BlackBerry that finally works as intended

So what's the concensus on the BlackBerry Torch 9860? It's a smooth device that will certainly be a seller. How big of a seller is yet to be seen. Users that want the big screen and don't mind not having a physical keyboard will be in BlackBerry heaven. Once you adjust to using the virtual keyboard there really isn't much bad to be said about the 9860. But if you're like me, you want to get things done efficiently and in my opinion, having a keyboard really helps that cause, even if I have to sacrifice potential display real estate for a screen. I know I'm in the minority on that one these days - you should definitely head t your local store and try out the Torch 9860 and come to your own conclusions. If playing videos, viewing photos, snapping pictures and web browsing are tops on your list, then I can say the Torch 9860 may be just what you're looking for. With the boosted processor and increased RAM, the OS trucks along fast enough to keep up with pretty much anything you can throw at it. 

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Summary

  • Processor is snappy
  • Feels good in the hand
  • The large screen makes for awesome web browsing
  • The camera is sweet and HD video just adds to the fun
  • Love Voice-activated Universal Search
  • Raised front buttons seem "cheap"
  • Convenience keys aren't what they should be
  • No physical keyboard could hold back some users
Bottom Line
  • Will take some more time to get a real feel for the battery life
  • WiFi Hotspot - please, please, PLEASE show up. 
  • A display like this demands apps and games. Get to work BlackBerry devs!

Read our BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Review, Take 2!

  • We know CrackBerry Kevin is a long-time user of BlackBerry Smartphones with physical keyboards, as are a lot of BlackBerry users, and this review reflects that device usage history.  If you're more of a touchscreen person who doesn't have that physical keyboard history, be sure to read our PART II Review of the BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860, from our resident BlackBerry virtual keyboard lover, Joseph Holder.

Reader comments

BlackBerry Torch 9860 Review


Why this device did not look like or made like a Bold 9900 I will never know. Imagine just extending the screen down on and elimminating the keyboard. Nice shape, glass screen, stainless band, NFC, thin, good weight and balance. Now that would have been a nice device.

Instead we had a device which Kevin has to give 2 points for just being a BB being reviewed by That makes it a 5.5 out of 10. Checkerboarding like crazy! Plastic screen. Silly raised plastic buttons. No NFC. No WIFI hotspot. No FFC. No WIFI 5.0 N. Less than 200 megs of app space. Browser slower than other devices released a year ago. RIM aought to be thanking G-d for the costs associated with pulling out of enterprise.

I totally agree with you. This device should look like the bold 9900 and is it me or I think they shouldve at least put in a front facing camera. The checkerboarding was painful to watch Ugh.

Get with it

To me, RIM's lack of uniformity is maddening. The buttons should look alike across the lines. Why the raised button? They really look like s*** in my opinion. My second gripe....why does a full touchscreen need a trackpad? It's also taking up valuable screen space. The other posters are right...they should have made it look like the 9900. That 9900 is one sweet looking Blackberry!
That said, the screen is really nice and clear, and it is a great step in the right direction coming of the Storm fiasco. Like it or not, most consumers like full touchscreen devices, and this is a solid device to capture a few converts....

Some valid points you make but also keep in mind that to be fair there are some impressive advantages as well.

The screen is bigger than the iPhone.

The phone is a world phone unlike the iPhone. No need to get another phone if you travel.

The processor is 1.2GHz unlike the iPhone 1GHz.

You can back up your phone to the SD card. If your kid slams it and it breaks you just pull out the card and your new phone is set-up. With an iPhone you are just screwed.

The camera is awesome.

The raised buttons are functional. You can be holding a cup of coffee, reach into your pocket and know which is which without having to look down.

Still, the best e-mail and messaging out there.
Still, can swap out batteries.
Still, can add more memory with SD card.

You make some good points but I would not write it off. I know it does not have as many fart apps as the iPhone but who cares? The best way to be sure is to hold it at the store and compare it against the competition. The last three items are enough for me but I'm a physical keyboard guy so its for the touch screen types.

Let's face even among us fans it doesn't look good. I agree a keypad-less bold form-factor would have worked but I thought the Storm was a handsome device among touchscreens (underwhelming as the experience was).
Why didn't someone think putting it on a serious diet, evolving the look and then sticking in these specs would have worked? Right now it has looks even a mother would have reservations about. RIM is on the backfoot in terms of market share and doesn't need such nondescript devices. especially as it's the only all touch device on offer. Come on guys!

I agree, great review, very comprehensive. However, I believe that there are still many who would appreciate (or need) those little keys to type out a memo reply or text, or BBM. The "perfect" torch would combine this new Torch with a landscape pull down keyboard. The keys would also be a tad bigger.
PJ - Long Island

Nice review even though is anti virtual keyboard. Maybe Holder (virtual keyboard lover) could have given a fairer review.

I'd have to agree. You really felt the negative tone in the review. You could tell it was reviewed from a non-touchscreen keyboard user. It would be nice to hear from someone who uses a virtual keyboard exclusively.

My main problem with the keyboard part of the review is why the physical keyboard is an issue? It doesn't have one and shouldn't be factored in to the review. I also feel that it brought the overall score down, which doesn't seem fair.

Otherwise, it was a great review.


I think we should have had Joseph AND Kevin report on that area, Joseph loves touchscreens while Kevin is a purist.

That would have given us a much more accurate point on where the keyboard stands.

Also, "the Bad" on the top is shallow. Makes us thing the device is a POS while it really isn't.

X2...I concur. In fact, I wish someone else from the staff would have done the review, from a non-keyboard perspective. Someone that prefers and uses only a touch screen device. I love my 9930, but the Torch's look pretty slick and otherwise seem like this review should have received a higher overall score. Remove the bias, let someone else review these and update your review. I think that would be fair. If I wear interested in this device, I have wrote them off by a quick glance of the review.

Shame on you Kevin for not having someone else review or have input to these devices. I'm a bit disapointed in you to be honest. Hwo about an update?

fine review but i feel like crackberry kevin could have spent a bit more time with this torch in order to be comparable with the 9900. somehow, the review is biased by the 9900 and it feels like kev did not really try to learn the virtual keyboard. although kev has a few points like the design i d wait to have opinions from other crackberry team member.

Maybe Kevin feels the same way a lot of people do -- if he wanted a smartphone without a physical keyboard, he might as well buy an iP****.

Exactly. Unless they really hate Steve Jobs its really hard to see why someone would chose this over an iPhone.

Maybe because what they really want is a BlackBerry with a huge-ass screen?

CONS aside, if this phone were 100% proof to get QNX, I'd buy it.

I still might if I resolve fails me when I walk by a VIVO store...

Or not, JasW. The fact that there are a lot of BlackBerry users who don't particularly care for a physical keyboard shouldn't be disregarded. BlackBerry users actually enjoy the BlackBerry flow and the way everything is integrated into the os.

I actually started off on a Pearl. Then jumped to the storm1 and 2, and LOVED the touch screen / SurePress idea. It was great for those who like having more efficient control of their touch screen. The os was lacking, as well as powerful hardware, but there were a lot of you guys praising this phone when it came out. There were a lot of you hating the phone too due to os issues, but I believe it was more due to the fact that you couldn't handle a phone without a physical keyboard. Get over it. A BlackBerry doesn't have to have one.

I then moved over to a Torch when I learned the Storm 9570 was not coming. I would be perfectly happy right now with that model rocking os6 and a 5 mp cam. Basically, it would have been the Torch 9800 specs with SurePress instead of a physical keyboard. I still hope to somehow get my hands on that model.

After rocking the Torch for about a year now, I do like it. I embraced the keyboard and continued my love for the touch screen experience- despite its lack of SurePress that I was accustomed to. It gets the job done. I like the os6 functionality and webkit browser.

Something was still lacking to me. I know that there are so many purists who feel that the physical keyboard is what makes a BlackBerry, so I picked up a Bold 9700. I will say this about the I do enjoy that larger keyboard when compared to the physical one on the Torch, but after coming from an os that is intended for a touch screen experience, trying to use the phone the same way as I had my previous 3 touch based phones was far too difficult. The screen is entirely too small. I feel that the Bold 9900/9930 is a big step up and definitely the benchmark for BlackBerry models with a physical keyboard, BUT even that screen is too small to embrace a touch screen experience. Especially one like os6 and os7, and most definitely one that will be utilizing the best that QNX has to offer.

So I switched back to my Torch. I find myself using both keyboards, but relying on neither more frequently or efficiently than the other. But I don't lose anything at all from using the touch screen only. The same can't be said about using the phone with only the physical keyboard.

The point is, a good BlackBerry is NOT determined by its virtual/physical keyboard. It is determined by the functionality and the user experience.

its may not be top notch like a android or iphone for browsing, but for RIM, its a HUGE step in the right direction!
im ditching my android for this device, ive always loved bb, but once the androids came out showing so much more advances i had to jump ship, now that BB is on the bandwagon, i gotta join back in the ranks!

So you jumped ship rather than just waiting it out like the rest of us for these devices to come out.

Unloyal :(

There's a typo in the caption beside the video link. It references the Bold 9900, which clearly you have a bias for (not that I blame you). However, the bias makes it hard to judge if the virtual keyboard is good/bad/ugly. Get someone that actually uses a virtual keyboard to add some input.

Hey Guys...

Just a note.. I'm not really "anti-virtual keyboard". I own a PlayBook, I own an iPad, I own a iPhone 4. Nothing against virtual keyboards... I can be pretty fast on them.

But I agree that when it comes to virtual keyboards on the BBOS, yeah.. I'm still a physical keyboard guy. And I do make note of that clearly in the review - so take my bias towards physical keyboards as just that. I've tried a lot of times to make the full plunge over, and never quite am able to as I always feel like I'm slowing down the speed of use I get out of the traditional BB form factor.

That said, I do really like the Torch 9860 form factor and am going to spend more time on it. Time was cramped on getting this up, so will definitely spend more time on the device and update the review as needed.

ALSO... we'll DEFINITELY get Joseph Holder to review this device too as soon as he gets one. He is a pro on the BB touchscreen and loves them like I do my 9900 keyboard.

Kevin, quick question

do you really use all those devices? i know this is a BB site, but what do you prefer out of all those you listed?
do you use the ipad more or the playbook? or do u carry both?
do you prefer the bb or the iphone or do you carry both?


Second that! Kev please post your quick opinion of iPad vs Playbook here if you can, just in a few lines, thanks!

That be a Submariner i reckon, judging by the clap - how much do you guys earn doing this job?!!!!! :)

9900 on it's way next week - this one looks really old school so not for me.

Why don't you try using the COMPACT QWERTY option?
I assure you that you will be typing much faster than the conventional STANDARD view. Still may not be as fast as physical, but I can diffidently say from experience it helps tremendously. Especially, with SureType technology correcting any issues along the way. (non grammar of course)

However, I will note that I have never been aware of shortcuts to help "speed" up the process of opening up emails, replies, copy/paste commands, etc...

I think you should try it and report back your findings.

It's not like we didn't know that Kevin, I got a 9780 over a 9800 for one single reason (you guys guess it).

But I stand by what I said above, saying "There are sadly quite a few "bads" when it comes to the Torch 9860. It's not our favorite device, but it is still a good choice for those getting into BlackBerry and looking for the full-touch experience." really didn't do it justice.

Or should I say... Saying it has quite a few bads isn't fair. This just isn't fair. This comment is over!

Jokes aside, another great review. Took a while, but RIM's out with a very nice selection of devices.

Good lookin out Kev. No one is angry at ya. It's just that there were too many things that seemed to set that phone up to fail in this review. The os not being updated, its benefits not being displayed, and the fact that you don't like using the touch screen models that have a virtual keyboard. We can't have that.

Good review, though at times I think you got caught up too much on your love for the 9900 and let that influence your overall review (which didn't necessarily benefit the 9850/60).

I do agree and wished that RIM would have went with the flush buttons instead. People said that RIM needed to keep physicaly buttons for it's enterprise customers. That makes no sense? This is the multimedia device, if physical buttons are that huge of a deal get a 9900.

It took nearly 2 days to find the pause button? Was that info not in the manual, or did you not read it? Or maybe even given proper directions on where to find it, it still eluded you?

It took nearly 2 days to find the pause button? Was that info not in the manual, or did you not read it? Or maybe even given proper directions on where to find it, it still eluded you?

I've got to agree with a few of the other comments here. You clearly state your preference for a physical keyboard. So much to the point that you (Correction: Bla1ze) rated the 9810 better than this 9860, and there is no way that bulky phone should get a better review. Do you all rate this the same way? or are these ratings sonly by those who do the article?

While I think your reviews are normally the most informative, your lack of comfort with the virtual keyboard is apparent. Please take more time with this device and review it again with the proper os installed and test out the SureType keyboard as well. There's too much missing from this review.

The thinner volume/mute looks very sleek to me. While I haven't had any problems with the original Torch's buttons, I think it fits very well into that thinly sculpted design. The best touch screen design in my opinion. I know it's not the classic look of a BlackBerry, but not everyone feels the BlackBerry needs to have a physical keyboard.

Can you enable suretype in portrait...i would have loved to see that in the video....thank you for the review kevin.

I just want to say that I was expecting the 9860 to be like that green glowing crystal that superman threw in the north pole that built the replica of krypton in like 60 seconds, or the shard that healed the dark crystal so evil and good were sucked together into really weird and tall old people that talked without moving their mouths, but NOW I'M A LITTLE WORRIED!!

Plastic screen, tiny side buttons that feel like they could break, a "sticky" plastic surface of a touch screen...It's kind of like when I was told Santa wasn't real (and I was only 6 years old!). Am I going to just order the Verizon 9930 tomorrow morning!? I don't know what to do now. There's a reason why I don't carry the presidential football briefcase, because I can't make this kind of decision!!

Yeah, this whole comment might be over the top. But once I started with the green crystal and north pole, I got carried away.

WTF is the deal with the lower buttons.... are you kidding me?

and whats with all the checker boarding on the browser, and slow in and out of apps, and slow screen rotation?

Long time BB user here, picked up an iphone to hold me off a few months before the whole verizon data plan switch. with plans to sell it to get this device.

This video really made me rethink getting rid of the iphone.

Come on RIM lets step it up. iOS5 on my iphone4 is flawless and can do everything and everything I always hated about the iphone, took 5 OS revisions to get it right though lol

I feel this is just a filler phone and the buttons are just there as its an easy distinction when the next revision of it comes out and they can easily inset the buttons like from the S1 to the S2... which most likely will be the phone to get. but then it leaves me stuck with this iphone longer..... I miss BB hardware so bad.

Kev stated that he believes it wasn't running the latest os on that pre-release model. That should explain the speed and checker-boarding of the browser.

I think the buttons are very useful. I really don't know what everyone's gripe is with them. The torch 9800 has them under one large layer of plastic. They look very solid the way they're done on this...Torch... (Still a Storm3. I don't care what people say. I love the Storm) and of the quality you can expect from a BlackBerry keyboard, and they most likely reduce unwanted selection/dialing that you would get if they were integrated into the touch screen experience.

I do agree that RIM should still have stepped up a bit and at least added a front facing cam, as well as a new series of native apps for the os7. These devices should be made to upgrade to a single core compatible QNX os update when it comes out. While this isn't a gripe against this model, it is something that should be done to give this great model some shelf life beyond the end of this year.

The end of this year? Taking into account RIMs history, I would think this would have a good 18 months before there is anything worth upgrading to from them.

Think end of next year. Even if QNX phones are released next year they will need awhile to get "polished".

I guess we all agree RIM can't keep on using the same model they've been so far. They said QNX phones would hit the market Q1 2012.

Do you really think their stocks can take another hit? I think they will do whatever it takes to have those phones out on schedule and on scope (even if they have to overbudget to make it happen - Simple triple constraint from project mangement...).

They can worry about what they spent to make it happen after the stocks start moving back up and device sales money flows in.

Well stated Diegonei. There's no way they don't do everything necessary to get QNX on a phone by Q1. Far too much is on the line for them.

Perhaps the lower keyboards are there for use not aesthetics. If you are holding a cup of coffee you can actually hit the exact button you want with confidence rather than hoping you get it.
I love the screen, the camera, the power and finally the web-browser.
Still, I've done time trials with my buddy, who has an HTC Evo 4G (but already decided that he will get a BB Bold as soon as it comes to sprint) and the physical keyboard is 20% faster.

Like the review says, if surfing the internet and watching video is more important then this is your phone.

One great thing about this device is that like all the new BB it is a world phone so if you travel you can just keep going. One less thing to worry about unlike the iPhone on Verizon.

Too much glass in the iPhone, you would rather have a plastic screen?

Seiously though, what is it about BB hardware you miss?

Buttons are for drivers - & one handed users. Form follows function & not the reverse - but this is a user preference and not a one size fits all.
You can have nice level buttons if you are calmly sitting & using with two hands or nothing else going on. But IF walking, driving or doing anything else - give me a feelable button to push without looking.
Rather than deriding the button issue, I would prefer if it was discussed from a user preference view.

i think its the right phone for me but no flash support is killing me.i need to check it out as soon as its available on att.

It definitely has the capability for flash support. All Adobe needed for a mobile phone to run it was an 800 mhz processor according to their own site. I'd expect it to be there in an update before year's end if it's not already included at launch.

I like it and will get it... but it will be a stepping stone to the all touch QNX colt due Q1 2012.

which won't happen until around Q4 of 2012, but I agree with you completely! Great stepping stone, and a tide-over until QNX arrives for the phones.


You should have tried to benchmark the 9860, when fully memory and media card encryption is on.

Has the "no caller info while locked and encryption is on" been fixed with OS7??
How much hourglass while encryption is on??

Kevin (or if anyone else has the answer feel free to answer as well),

I posted this in the 9850/9860 forums (never got an answer to it) before you did your review but since you now have the phone can you please respond to this question if you have the time :

I was wondering something about the screen that has nothing to do with the "glass" or "plastic" debate and figured someone in this thread who has seen or touched it may be able to answer; not sure how to even ask but I will do my best by giving an example.

The only way I can explain this is by using the IPhone because I know it is capable of this. I am not a fan of the Iphone and never plan on getting one so I hope I dont get the standard reply I see on numerous thread of "just go get an Iphone"

With the Iphone I have seen people use it to check into my gym with their barcode displayed on the screen, at the grocery store, in the airport with the reservation barcode and was wondering will this phones screen be able to do that. I have a storm 2 and have tried and failed to perform these same feats repeatedly and have no clue whether it was the screen on the storm 2 or something else that was preventing it from doing the same thing.

"Can the new Torch do this??"

I have used my Storm2 twice in the last week to display a barcode and have it scanned by a business, once at the movie theater, and once using a groupon at a restaurant.

worked nicely, I don't see why this would be any different.

I work at a gym and people try to check in like this all the time. I've seen them try with lots of different devices: Iphone, Ipads, various android phones, and even a few with the Torch 9800, all with the same results. It works. Eventually. Maybe 25% of the time it scans fine right away, but most times it takes a minute or two or twisting and turning the screen and/or the scanner to get it. Meanwhile, the people in waiting in line get impatient and nasty. Its a great idea, but its usually more of a pain than its worth.

RIM dropped the ball, they should have made the display with Gorilla glass or something on par with Gorilla glass. Plastic of any kind for the display is a "Huge NO NO". That is a a big disappointment.

Besides, I like my Blackberry's to have a decent weight to them. I like to know what I'm holding is a quality Blackberry device, not something that is so light that it might feel like some kind of Samsung piece of crap( Hey, you've got to give it to Samsung, though. At least they used Gorilla glass.).

The issue that's been around since the 85xx was released. Some people will only deem the device as good if it is heavy. Others will be delighted they are not carryig a brick around.

It's all personal preference so no much point bringing up...

My question is: What difference does it really make that it is hardened plastic? Hype? Functionality? Performance?

Becuase if the functionality and performance are on pair, I can do without the hype... And if it makes the device less expensive, all the better.

But do answer me, what is the actual difference from what it has to what it "could/should" have had?

I was super excited about this phone, but after reading Kevin's reveiw - I'm leaning against it. I think I will now move on a get a 9930.

"but it is still a good choice for those getting into BlackBerry and looking for the full-touch experience"
Who in his right mind would get into BlackBerry with a touch device? Security and email are important, but just get a 9780 and a cheap Android to play with or get a PlayBook for the 'full-touch experience'

I'd get one in a snap if they were selling 'em in Canada right now. I need a big screen for web browsing, BB email for my corporate inbox, and I need a virtual keyboard since physical won't cut it for my needs - I'm typing non-English characters sometimes so no physical keyboard for me by defintion.

This phone is a PERFECT hybrid of big ticket multimedia (web, movies, music, HD video camera and games) and a corporate productivitiy, plus a bridge for my Playbook of course. I'm buying one the moment it's on sale anywhere in Canada.

Was not sure RIM would ever make a decent competitor to big high end full touch smartphones from Apple and Google, now looks like it is actually happening! I'm pretty excited, this is kinda better than I expected from RIM, to be honest.

That's exactly what I did with the Storm. It was my first Blackberry and I bought if for just that reason. And as I recall, I was in my right mind on that day!

It makes no sense having an anti-touch screen person do this review. Kevin seems to mark the device down because it is a touch screen rather than evaluating it on its own merits. Very amateur-ish by Crackberry to use a biased reviewer. To be fair, they should have an anti-Qwerty physical keyboard person do the 9930 review.

Cons: No physical keyboard could hold back some users

How is that a con when the phone is clearly labeled a FULL TOUCH. You're out to lunch Kev. You rated this phone poorly because you love a keyboard instead of a virtual one. Pre release phone? Lame!! You could of waited....

My thoughts exactly. This is the best bb to date FULL-STOP!!!! If I wanted a physical keyboard I'd get a 9900 or 9810. The lack of the physical keyboard is its biggest "PRO". This phone should have gotten 10/10 or maybe 9.5 since it doesnt have NFC but i can live with that, at this point its useless until more ppl start implementing it.

i was a winner for #bb7fanNight and i got to see all the devices first hand. coming from a storm 9530 (i still abuse that on a daily), the 9860 was the logical choice for me. its just past 5:30am for me so pls forgive me if i sound all over the place or if my spelling/grammar makes me sound like a 15yr old....anyway, i used the 9860 for about 15 mins before i gave it back. i would've used it the whole night but with so much media presence there and with all the ppl lined up to take film/pix of it, i felt bad for hogging it for that long. the first thing i did when i picked it up was, a quick look over of the hardware. everything that was mentioned in this review is correct in terms of the bb itself. i didn't get a chance to actually use the media buttons but i'm sure it just takes a few tries before getting used to. the next thing i did was, i checked out how fast the overall os and browser speeds were. the one i was using was on the bell network and its the fastest i've ever seen for a bb. i have friends with both iphone4's and various android devices and i can honestly say that the bb browser can keep up with all of them at the very minimum!

after checking out some sites, the rep started showing me some of the new features like universal voice search, how to eliminate all the unnecessary window panes, wikitude etc... once i got a moment to myself to try the typing, i noticed one thing instantly and that was the new layout of the keyboard. more importantly, the dedicated comma button. that's right, no more alt+m to get the comma which also means, no more "......" instead of a comma due to laziness!

i typed out the typical "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" on the keyboard for a few reasons. i wanted to check and see my accuracy, speed and comfort level for typing while using all the keys on the virtual keyboard. as a storm 9530 owner, i can tell u this. i typed out the whole sentence with 100% accuracy and although it might not be much (maybe a half second faster), i did type on the touchscreen faster than my storm 9530 (i typed the same thing in a blank email on my storm after playing with the 9860 to compare). i would say that i'm an above average bb abuser. i don't go more than 5 mins without having to check my phone for something unless i'm sleeping. i don't use my bb for business but from checking emails/bbm/sms/tweets/gtalk/wlm/browsing etc.... i'm on it pretty much all the time. basically, an average day consists of me going thru 3 batteries a day. again, u gotta also take into consideration that i am using a storm 9530 and all 5 of the batteries i own for it are 2-3yrs old. the level of comfort is amazing! the layout of the keyboard is much better in my opinion and unlike kevin, i know i can type out emails/bbm/sms etc.... without slowing down. i also used my friend's 9900 for a few hours and realized that a physical keyboard is something i just can't do. btw, for the person asking about the qwerty keyboard in portrait, its there. i don't type in portrait but from what i remember, the dedicated comma button was there as well.

in terms of the plastic screen being "sticky", i have a full body phantomskin on my storm and i actually prefer it over the naked version (i have 2 other storms that i've inherited for parts....hence all the extra batteries). i find that the naked glass screen on a storm was sometimes too slippery. especially when my hands are dry in the winter. when i used the 9860, i found that the "stickiness" was a pretty good balance. it was smooth but had enough grip to swipe and actually respond. again, with the iphone4/android devices that i've played with, none of the phones have had 100% responsiveness for me. there have been times where i would swipe on those devices and either nothing happens or it'll hesitate before moving. for the fifteen mins i had with the 9860, it didn't happen at all. was only for fifteen mins. i'm sure if i used it on a daily with my "normal" usage, i'm sure i can duplicate the issues. anyway, i plan on getting a full body phantomskin again because i like to have all my devices without scratches (i'm anal like that) so the stickiness of the screen will be irrelevant. i'm sure most of u will get a screen protector at the very minimum so again, this sticky issue is not really an issue as it will all come down to the texture of ur skin/screen protector.

my 9860 hasn't arrived yet (just send it already rim!) but when it does, i can help answer any questions that u guys may have. just send me a tweet at @jimz22 and i'll do my best to answer the questions as quick as possible.

ps. i won't be getting my 9860 until its officially launched by my carrier. my carrier is bell mobility and for any questions about browser speeds/tests, it will all be done on that network unless its specifically asked of me to use wifi. last note before i go back to bed, the last i've heard about a release date for bell was aug 22. i hope it gets launched earlier than that (like the 9900) and that my device comes in this week! g'nite all!

thanks for your quick review!

After reading Kevin's review, I was a bit taken back, and second guessing my plans of buying a 9860... I have a Storm2 and I feel like the transition into a 9860 will be smooth for me.

I think you might have talked me back into it, of course I will have to play with one first to make sure.

Love your enthusiasm about getting this phone. Thanks for all your comments and they echo my own thoughts exactly. I'm still very excited about the 9850 and I am not going to let people's negativity toward it rain on my parade!

"I haven't had the Torch 9860 for long at the time of this writing, but so far it appers there's nothing spectacular to report on in regards to battery life. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a BlackBerry."

Is that so? I always thought the BB calling card was "spectacular" battery life? If this device only got a 7.5 on crackberry its got problems.

cant wait to get this device, but still no release date for bell mobility :\

p.s: big screen > physical keyboard! ;p

At first I thought that 7.5 was rather low for a device with the same OS and nearly identical hardware as the can sort of see what RIM could have done better:

-Glass screen (most care more about quality then about lightness)
-Slicker buttons (more subjective)
-Better convenience and volume buttons (but if they work fine then no biggie)
-Needed NFC
-Give it the same wireless as the 9900, come on

Like seriously, I know physical keyboards are their bread and butter and their main customer base, but there are us Storm users that want a full Blackberry touchscreen and couldn't care less about physical keyboards, AND are willing to pay top dollar for this device. The curve should have had these extra shortcomings. This should have been a HIGH-END model.

Why do you think many Android phones were so successful? They didn't stinge out on the hardware! Dear RIM, I will probably buy this device because I like having the freedom of a larger screen and I need a blackberry, but you're missing your chance to get some customers over from android. It's decisions like these that simply make me think about the 9900 for a high-end phone even though I really wanted a larger touchscreen all along. It'snow a compromise.

That being said, it actually has a better talk time battery life than the 9900 OR the 9810, so I mean, you can't talk big about the other BB's battery life when compared to this.

In summary, I really like what RIM has done in general, except for a few shortcomings which were business decisions to save money, which may or may not work overall (didn't impress me). Touchscreens are synonymous with high-end smartphones, and the refusal to believe in a market for top-of-the-line touchscreen phones is ridiculous. So the 1.5 points lost from the 9900 are from the lack of better wifi, no nfc, cheaper design and materials, despite the fact that it has a better feel in hand, better talk-time battery life and has auto-focus. I can't help but feel that in this review, the wifi doesn't matter, nfc wasn't a huge issue and the battery life difference is marginal. Therefore, it is almost exclusively that the design of the device was to blame for the 1.5 points lost....and I might even agree....

If we wanted to pay less to get less for a touchscreen blackberry, we will buy the curve touch. Plain and simple.

I have a Torch Touch coming from my Verizon rep hopefully will be here Thursday, Friday the latest. I am somewhat excited to try a full touch phone. I've been traditionally a keyboard guy but think it might be time to give it a try. I'll have about 3 weeks on the demo so hopefully I'll get a fair shake on the touch screen. If it doesn't jive with me I am certainly getting a 9930.

You mean the VZW rep is bringing you a 9850? If so, that's the first confirmation of them having one. Can't wait to hear your impressions.

Since when does a few hours on wifi make a review on CB. This should be rebranded as something else. It's bad enough that this is entirely slanted from a guy who is a card carrying member of the "if it doesn't have a full keyboard, its a toy " club. Secondly, Kevin just spent a week falling in love with the 9900. So rebrand this as a walkthrough or whatever you like, but it's not a fair review. Send the device to someone who is/was a storm 1/2 user and even better is also an iPhone or Android user. I mean this device doesn't even seem to be the same as what a consumer will get in that it isn't release software and isn't running on a carrier.

Kevin, whether you like it or not this device will be a major part of the Rimpire striking back. Put a review device in the hands of a storm user and then let's do a real review. I admire your honesty, but I think that you are not the best person to make an unbiased reviews here, nor are you really putting yourself in the mind of the target audience here. Did you play a game or watch some movies on it? You didn't even show the media player for Petes sake.

Please have someone do a real review after using the device for a few days, not a few minutes.

+ a billion!

I admire Kevin's review as they are amazingly in-depth and cover the bases, BUT, there are many of us Storm and Torch users that just don't like physical keyboards. I just couldn't relate to this review because it made me seem like I'm not a real BB user because I'm a Storm user, and that this device will somehow never compare to the Bold 9900 because it doesn't have a keyboard.

To many of us, an all-touch Blackberry without the keyboard is EXACTLY what we want our Blackberries to be.

If it was reviewed by a pure all-touch BB user I feel I could trust and relate to the review more, even if it was from our very honest unbiased fearless leader Kevin.

I totally agree with you. I love my Torch 9800 but the keyboard actually gets in my way. I type faster on the virtual keyboard then I do with a physical keyboard. But this review just made me feel...bad.

I do agree with some of the setbacks Kevin said though. The buttons being flushed would've made the device look smoother and the right side keys should have been a little bigger. Also, hopefully a carrier-branded one with the newest OS is snappier (I don't see why it wouldn't be). But other then that, the 9860 seems like heaven for us touch BB users.

One question I do have: did anybody see if there were NFC contacts on the back of the battery door?

Look, let's be honest here; many of us all watching these reviews to see if we should stick with RIM or jump ship. I feel badly even feeling this way, but it's true, I am teetering on the fence here, really leaning toward the iPhone 5 at year end, and that is because I really want a quality device with a large screen, but I would like to stick with BB. But two of these "new" devices are knockoffs of older devices, the 9810 being a replica of the 9800, and the 9900 being a replica of the 9000 (which I owned) with a trackpad and touchscreen. Sorry, but I just can't get excited about spending another two years with either of those older designs. Which leaves the 9850/60, and yet after this, I am not feeling so hot about sticking with BB, considering the overall plastic feel of the device. What we really need are some comparisons to the recent iOS and Android devices; how does this device stack up against the industry in terms of browsing and multimedia and typing? That's what would help me, because I am seriously leaning

Good review...but there are WAY too many typos! Might want to brush up on the differences between words like "it's and "its" and "bears" and "bares"...kind of makes it a pain to read.

Good review but the constant no-keyboard bashing drove me crazy... They released other form factors that included physical keyboards for those who prefer them...

"No physical keyboard could hold back some users" etc...

Yet, I do not see your other reviews saying, inclusion of bulky, unnecessary physical keyboard may hold users back - like me. I will not buy a smartphone with a physical keyboard on it. You essentially have 2 choices when it comes to physical keyboards:
1 - Take up 50% of the front of the device with it ie; Bold (who wants half their phone to be taken up by a keyboard while reading an Email? or trying to scroll through a website? asking someone to proof a Word document)
2 - Make the phone twice as thick by throwing a slider on it and hiding the keyboard underneath the phone
Both options drive me crazy.

I am very glad to see a full touchscreen smartphone from RIM that doesn't completely suck (although keeping the trackpad seemed kind of silly to me).

RIM always seems to shortcutting or going cheap in everything they do..
effen plastic screen?! I don't care how "scratch resistant" they claim the screen is. Plastic will show scratches over time a lot easier than glass. not a big deal I suppose for people that use a screen protector but still this shows the cheapness that RIM always tries to sneak in shining through again.

Some good points in the review, some biased, some worthless: "I mean that really all there is to the device is the touchscreen. Without it you'd have a few buttons and a trackpad and couldn't get very far." (some real insightful reviewing here)

Maybe all Kevin's comments could be stripped out and the phone be re-reviewed by someone that isn't drooling over their 9900.

Wow I was considering switching to this device from my iPhone 4 but am now having serious second thoughts after seeing this review.

The browser seems the most disappointing after all the hype it had, the page was slow to load and there was so much checkerboard, even when scrolling back up to a part of the webpage that had already loaded. A plastic screen will just make it feel cheap and the raised buttons looks out of place and diminish the slick look of the phone. The keyboard also looks awkward with all te keys aligned one under the other, just doesn't feel natural.

My biggest gripe was that the device didn't seem to snappily change from landscape to portrait mode when you turned the device. It seemed like sometimes you'd turn it back just because the orientation wouldn't change (although maybe you had an orientation lock on and I missed it in the video).

Suddenly not so sure if bbm is worth such an inferior device :s

Kevin, thanks for your review. I still am very torned between the torch 9860 and bold 9900 but in the end which one fits my needs after trying both... Keep up the good work...


Alex from RIM here. It’s a tough choice and really comes down to preference. The new Bold 9900 and 9930 feature a physical QWERTY keyboard and are the thinnest BlackBerry smartphones to date. On the other hand, the Torch 9860 provides a larger, all-touch display that makes HD video and photos really pop.

Whichever route you go, check out this recent post on our Inside BlackBerry Blog for some tips on getting started with your new smartphone:

Alex, RIM Social Media Team

I agree that the no keyboard rant really hurt this review. It is like someone who hates physical keyboards reviewing the Bold 9900/30 and taking off points for the larger keyboard and having a keyboard in the first place. We know from the start that it dose not have a keyboard so that should not be a con nor should it cost the phone points.

As for all the plastic complaints, really? Most phones are plastic now days, and plastic can be as durable as other materials. The iPhone 3Gs and 3G had all plastic bodies and when the 3G came out their were the same complaints, but by the time the 3Gs came out no one complained about the plastic body. The windshields in your car is covered with a plastic that keeps it from exploding if hit, and no one seems to complain. I have had other phones with plastic screens and they worked fine.

The only thing I am worried about is the volume and mute keys, are they too small? But, I decided to do what I usually do in these circumstances, go and physically play with one of the units at a store before making a decision. Some have expressed reservations about getting this phone now, I think that before making that decision you should go and examine the unit.

All touch screen phones are in demand, many like them better. I think RIM is smart releasing an all touch screen phone. This looks on par with the current crop of Android and iPhone 4, so give it a fair try before rushing to judgement.

How does it compare to the Storm - that is the key question? This will not be a keyboard replacement machine, especially with the new Bold 9900 available. Can you comment on how the virtual keyboard compares to the Storm in both portrait (with autotyping it is faster once you get adjusted) and not just landscape.

I was hyped when I first heard about this device. Now...not so much. I'm only on my 2nd Blackberry (Bold 9650) and I was hoping that Blackberry would push the envelope a bit and I was certain this device would shut up my pals with Android devices, if only for a few months.

I don't see the point of having a full qwerty keyboard and touch screen which is why I ignored the new Bold 9900 and will continue to do so. I might as well hold on to what I have until 2012 or cave in and see what the Android hoopla is all about.

You almost had me almost had me.

Kevin, don't get discouraged by those that overinterpret your comments. I very much appreciated your review. Regular CB followers "hear" your reviews through what we know your "voice" to be. This was simply intitial impressions on a pre-released device with more to come. I haven't noticed you trying to conceal that you ARE BB's #1 fan, and unabashedly a Bold Boy who loves a physical keyboard LOL.

To me this is like discussing something with colleagues. All of them have various backgrounds, biases and knowledge that is strong in some areas, lacking in others. Knowing that, I still want their opionions. CB was never designed to be "there." Rather, it is all about the creative flow of respectful conversation where subsequent thinkers influence each other and shape the outcome. Pay no never mind to whining children who do not understand that their complaints would eliminate the very thing they are demanding. Only people that have never done a full day's work care about typos. I encourage your spontaneity because that is when your "voice" comes through the best.

That said, I sure would appreciate an aditional 9860 review from an S2 user. It would add useful thinking to the conversation.

Keep up the good work. Never let CB get so big and slick that there is no individual voice.

nice way to ask for a second reviewer. I felt bad for kevin he clearly stated him and miss 9900 are getting married

Holy crap Kevin.......

It's not's Magna-tom-eter

Oh, and thanks for Basille's and Lazaridis' email addresses. I have sent them mail asking you to be nominated for the board.

haha. yeah, that was joke.

goes back all the way to grade 7 with an argument i used to get in with my teacher.  i said kilometer as "ki-lom-a-ter" and he said it's  "kil-o-me-ter" since it's just a me-ter.

but then i said, well if that's true, it should be a speed-o-meter and therm-o-meter.  so yeah.. i often toss out the oh-meter just for fun.  :)

I think this phone is for different segment BB user. The heavy emailer and texter may not find this phone ideal, but a casual emailer and more multi-media browser my find it great. My wife keeps bugging me for the iphone. Being on Sprint, this in not an option. She currenty has a Palm/HP Pre. The OS is great for her and she loves it. The phone just suck though. I don't this she will like Andriod. So I'm hoping the 9860 will work for her. Decent app selection, great hardware for her, and BBs just work. I love my current Bold, but can't wait for the new Bold.

All though i believe that touch screens are the way of the future and that soon buttons will be obsolete in all aspects of life (NFC). I too would not buy this device over a 9900 until Rim can successfully make an outstanding touchscreen device that is fully loaded and fully functional. I will be sticking to the bold series and lets just say people i wouldn't hold my breath

Good review with good info. You guys crack me up saying you need a QWERTY keyboard for the full BB experience. Uh... the virtual keyboard IS a QWERTY keyboard. That simply means the first six keys are arranged in a qwerty sequence as opposed to say, alphabetical. That aside, everyone has their preferences and biases based on what they're used to using.

I've used the Storm touch keyboard exclusively, never the physical keys, and I can't wait to get this new Torch. So despite the inferred disappointment with this phone, I'm still very excited about it!

I wanted to see what score the Tour (what I use now) got so I could have a frame of reference with this new phone but alas back then the reviews did not have overall scores.

The Torch 9850 is great with the new touch screen but it just doesn't have the apps to make use of the extra real estate like iOS.

The apps have nothing to do with with make of the phone though. Those apps will come now that BB has the hardware to support the quality.

As for the phone, it looks amazing. It runs very smoothly. It still has all the great functionality that a BlackBerry offers, and now at impressive speeds.

So many of us stuck with BlackBerry (uber loyalists aside) because of the way the os is integrated into every aspect of the phone. Now that the processors have been nearly doubled in strength, the BlackBerry experience is that much better.

I'm an ex-BB user currently using Android...seeing the 9860/50 touchscreen BB is making me want to defect back to Blackberry....Android corporate email & calendar not cutting last BB was a Storm and the 9860 looks like they've corrected all of the mistakes made with that phone....

I have been rocking my 9530 storm for two years now and I am excited to see the improvements RIM has made in the all touchscreen separtment. My storm has been on its last legs for a very long time. The delimma now is whether to get this phone or the 9930.

Couple things I wanted to address after reading this:

1. Glass vs. Plastic. I am a long time Storm II user and the glass has a tendency to get very cloudy/smudged by the end of a heavy use day and I have scratched the heck out of it as well. It can get bad enough that it is hard to see what you are doing especially under bright lighting. I would try and clean the glass during the work day but sometimes time didn't allow for it. The use of a shield helped a great deal with this problem. I have heard you say Blackberry made the decision to go plastic vs glass to save weight but I wonder it that is all there was to that decision. I would be willing to bet this plastic has properties closer to that of shield covered glass and the possibility exists that the plastic is actually more scratch resistant than glass. Some interesting information out there comparing glass to ultra modern plastic in terms of scratch resistance. As far as being a "cheap" replacement for RIM to make money, all indications show that plastic is more expensive than glass under these conditions. We know RIM has consumer groups that test these phones under real world conditions. I find it extremely unlikely that RIM didn't know that plastic has a "cheaper" feel than glass and simply made the decision based on weight alone in spite of near certain user unhappiness with the plastic screen. I think very likely that the plastic was simply a sacrifice RIM had to make to get the very best product available to stand up to the heavy working conditions users will place on these screens. Think about it for a moment. Both the 9900/30 and 9810 are glass and both will see limited touch interactions due to having physical keyboards. The device that will see 100% touch interaction gets the more expensive, harder and more scratch resistant plastic. Sound like a company that just didn't care enough to bother using glass or one that is hell bent on creating the best possible work environment for their users? I will bet 10:1 that eventually you will see 9900/30 users complaining about smudgy work surfaces and ending up having to get shields. Of course, if a Storm user had done this review, you would know that (sorry Kev I really do love 99% of your stuff but you were not the right person to do this review).

More from this Storm II user on Big Ugly Buttons" tomorrow. Bedtime.

I'm ready for this phone, buttons and all. The track pad will be a welcome addition to the phone. Copy and paste is virtually worthless on the S2 now because you can't hardly control where to put the cursor. The screen looks awesome. Bring it on.

We storm users are mighty quick on a touchscreen device while typing, I don't think the physical keyboard is an advantage in any way besides keyboard shortcuts.

The review didn't change my mind in any way about the device. I love what RIM did and I understand the reasoning. If T-Mobile brings the 9860 into the fold, I have to have it!!! I always wanted a touch screen device (had a few physical keyboard Blackberry devices) and this is the one to make a move on. I sure hope the QNX devices to hit the market around RIM's predicted target and no longer as it will be a make or break point. No matter, I'm in for the long haul and when they are out, I'll snap up one of those too!!! :)

Played with this phone at BestBuy, it wasgreat. Smooth looking and solid, the phone ran great with no problems. Looking forward to getting it when my carrier relaases it

I can't decide which review is official, since Kevin gave this phone a 7.5 and the second review gives it a 9. How do I know which review to trust? Because I am getting tired of the same old design. The full touch screen is kinda interesting and I want to know what is the true perspective of this phone. I need a unbiased review. Get B1aze to do one.

So surprised not to sea any comment about the battery, I had this phone 3 days ago, I fully charged the battery about 5 or 6 times since then, the battery crazily drains very fast, it doesn't last more than 6 hours, yesterday I fully charged it from 3 AM to 2 PM, I Was out all the day with my family, very rarely used the phone just one call for 5 or 6 min. and very few pics (7 or 8), WiFi switched off, no Bluetooth connections, no GPS usage, almost nothing and the battery was fully dead at 9 PM.
Please someone tell me if this is normal, or I have a problem with my phone so I can change it or return it to the seller.