BlackBerry Torch 9800 Smartphone Review

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RIM's line of BlackBerry smartphones has been popular among business users for some time, but the brand has been losing market share in recent years to other platforms such as Android and iPhone. Now, the company is looking to turn things around with its new BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone and the new BlackBerry 6 operating system.

RIM claims BlackBerry 6 "retains the familiar and trusted features that distinguish the BlackBerry brand while delivering a fresh, approachable and engaging experience that’s powerful and easy to use." In other words, RIM says it has taken everything you like about a BlackBerry and added some cool new features and options that will improve your overall experience with the phone. Many long-time BlackBerry users will tell you this is exactly what they want—familiarity but with a more powerful and faster web browser, more social networking capabilities, better support for multimedia, etc.

             

 
One of the touted new features with BlackBerry 6 is the new WebKit browser which can render HTML web pages quickly. The browser also features tabbed browsing, pinch to zoom controls, and an auto-wrap text feature. Like other popular mobile platforms today, BlackBerry 6 also offers a universal search feature which lets you search email, messages, contacts, music, videos, and other files on the smartphone as well as search the Internet directly from the home screen.

Like previous generations of BlackBerry smartphones, the Torch still offers many of the tools that business customers love including the platform's popular messaging tools. But it's not all work and no play: The Torch also offers more social networking and messaging capabilities with integrated access to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and various instant messaging applications. The Torch also comes with Wi-Fi Music Sync, a feature that lets you view and sync your iTunes or Windows Media Player music libraries with the phone wirelessly or via USB.

In addition to new social networking and multimedia features, the Torch is also changing things up a bit by combining a touchscreen with a hardware keyboard. If you'll recall, many people felt RIM's first attempt at a touchscreen device (the BlackBerry Storm) was awkward. Will the Torch's touchscreen be better? This is just one of the many things we'll take a closer look at as we dive into our hands-on review of the BlackBerry Torch and the new BlackBerry 6 OS.

BlackBerry Torch
Specifications & Features

Display 3.2” HVGA+ touch screen (480x360)
Light-sensing and proximity detecting screen
Memory 512 MB flash memory / 512 MB SDRAM
4GB eMMC + 4GB media card included
support for microSD card up to 32GB
Camera & Video Recording 5 MP camera with continuous auto-focus, image stabilization, flash, 11 scene modes
2X digital zoom
VGA (640x480) video recording
Geotagging
GPS & BlackBerry Maps Built-in GPS functionality
Includes BlackBerry Maps
Data Input & Navigation Trackpad Phone, Menu, Esc keys
Touch screen with on-screen keyboard: SureType, QWERTY and multi-tap, landscape QWERTY
Slide-out QWERTY keyboard with backlighting
Voice Input & Output 3.5mm stereo headset capable
Integrated speaker and microphone
Hands-free headset capable
Bluetooth headset capable
Integrated hands-free speakerphone
Media Player Windows Media DRM 10 for music & video
Video format support: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV3
Audio format support: MP3, AMR-NB, AAC-LC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WMV, Flac, Ogg Vorbis
Bluetooth Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR; Headset, Handsfree, Serial Port Profile, Stereo Audio (A2DP/AVCRP), SIM Access Profile, Dial-up Networking and Messaging Access Profile
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
WPA / WPA2 Personal and Enterprise
Wi-Fi access to BlackBerry Enterprise Server
Wi-Fi access to BlackBerry Internet Bundle
Support for UMA (carrier-dependent)
Wireless Networks Tri-band 3G UMTS networks: 2100/1900/850/800 MHz
Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
Battery & Battery Life 1300 mAHr removable lithium-ion cell
Standby Time: GSM - up to 18 days, UMTS - up to 14 days
Talk Time: GSM - up to 5.5 hours, UMTS – up to 5.8 hours
Music Playback: up to 30 hours
Video Playback: up to 6 hours
Size & Weight Height (closed): 4.37in
Height (open): 5.83in
Width: 2.44in
Depth: 0.57in
Weight: 5.68oz

In the BlackBerry Torch's box, you'll find:

  • BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone
  • Hands-free 3.5mm stereo headset
  • Charger and USB cable
  • Lithium ion battery
  • 4GB memory card
  • Polishing cloth
  • Safety and Product Information Booklet
  • BlackBerry User Tools CD
  • Quickstart

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This isn't the usual BB form factor, but I've heard from a few folks who got a hands-on with this one that its the most multimedia friendly BB to date.

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