Does the BlackBerry Torch satisfy?
In grand style, the BlackBerry Torch 9800 was unveiled in New York city on Aug 3 at the press conference that RIM hosted. And I can tell you everyone was excited to learn more about RIM’s latest cell phone. There were many questions, and these questions had a lot to do with user experience and BlackBerry’s lost ground to Apple and Android cell phones. Will this phone bring the BlackBerry Smartphone back info the conversation of the best smartphone on the market? Did the BlackBerry Torch redeem the BlackBerry…..the short answer is…….
Yes. This phone makes the BlackBerry relevant again. Does this release put the Torch in the elite class of the iPhone 4, the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S? Well, let’s review the phone in some detail before jumping to any conclusions at this stage.
What do I like?
One of the most significant upgrades that separates the Torch 9800 from all other BlackBerry models is the new operating system OS 6. This drives the user experience and everything associated with the Torch. So let’s take a closer look at Blackberry’s latest:
- Full slide out keyboard! Full QWERTY keys for typing those long emails, and if you prefer the touch screen there is an on-screen keyboard with SureType®, Multi-tap and QWERTY, and landscape QWERTY. I like these options.
- 512 MB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage, with a Micro-SD slot for storage up to 32GB
- The camera experience has been greatly enhanced on this version of the BlackBerry and it is inline with other top cell phones in the market – its single shot mode does an excellent job in capturing an image – it looks like s screen capture – what’s on the screen is what you get. Good stuff!
- Great call quality on this device, and with the familiar BlackBerry menu options, it is easy to get to the call menu and start making calls. No antennagate issues here!
- 100% better browser experience with the new web kit rendering – easy to zoom, stretch to zoom on this phone and up until now surfing the web on a BlackBerry was like changing a tire on a highway, painful and dangerous. And it includes an actual cursor so you get that desktop type experience
- A superior media player and interaction. You can easily slide songs up and down and change views for album view, and this OS allows you to sync your music with your phone from your desktop with WiFi syncing. Wireless music updates to your cell phone. Now that’s cool.
- Universal Search! Yipee. This is one feature that BlackBerry just got right. You can find almost any piece of content on your phone with the universal search feature – this includes, apps, music, contacts, notes, emails etc. It’s easy to use, simple and even Ish (who is a big BlackBerry fan but not too tech savvy) can use it.
- Other goodies. There are a host of other good features built into the operating system – contextual poups, hold down on the screen for 3 seconds and you get the options related to what you are currently doing. Options to view usage on the device, memory usage and storage memory for each app. Enhanced social networking functionality including posting to several social media at the same time: for example you can send a message to FaceBook, Twitter and BlackBerry’s messager all at the same time. And you have the option to send one meesage to several contacts all in one key stroke. Switching from Wifi to 3G is automatic and seemless. Getting notifications is similar to the Android drop down experience.
Wow, that was a mouthful. The other surprising fact about this device is that the phone is only 0.57 inches thick compared to the Bold 9700 which is 0.56 inches thick, practically the same size. So BlackBerry does a great job of making the phone compact.
What don’t I like?
Well with all this good stuff is there anything about this phone that I won’t like. Well yes unfortunately, there are few items I didn’t quite like about this phone which you should be aware of:
- Display – a 480 x 360 capacitive display is ok, but not up to the level of today’s smartphones like the iPhone, HTC Desire (Nexus one), Samsung Galaxy S’ super AMOLED screen. Most of the smartphones in the market today come with a far sharper screen display and resolution. This is something the next hardware ve rsion will certainly have to address.
- Form factor – we argue about form factor over and over again, and my position has always been that it doesn’t matter that much. Well I’m wrong. It does matter. I don’t like the BlackBerry Storm look of the Torch. Let’s make it more sexy. Streamlined. Different. Don’t you think?
- Slow engine – I expected at least a 1GHz processor in this phone, given that this is becoming standard in most smartphones today. The 624MHz Marvell CPU isn’t up to scratch for a phone of this caliber. The net result is that in some cases the UI sticks and stutters when there are apps working. Seems like the phone needs more horsepower in order to really leverage OS 6.
- No Flash Support! I’m disappointed that the new browser doesn’t support flash. I hope like Android that BlackBerry will incorporate Flash into its browser, hopefully in the next upgrade of its operating system
- Backward Compatibility issues – it seems as though this operating system doesn’t work with all the existing apps from early OS versions. So be aware that some of your applications may not work on this phone and you may need to wait for the new OS 6 app version.
What’s the Verdict?
So whats the verdict here! Essentially this is the best blackberry phone ever. Hands down in my opinion largely due to a wicked operating system. Earlier I had posed the question, does this phone compare with the iPhones, Samsung Galaxy S’ and HTC Evos of the world? Well not quite! It is a step in the right direction. It needs to upgrade its hardware with more firepower – the screen display (resolution) is still circa 2008 – the form factor can be revamped a bit to make it look and feel more sleak – and finally the OS 6 still has some quirks that needs to be fixed before it can reach the league of these phones.