BlackBerry Torch 9800 Smartphone Review

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One of the things we like about the BlackBerry Torch is the fact that any BlackBerry user should feel right at home almost immediately—navigation is much the same, but with the added option to use the touchscreen as well as the optical trackpad and QWERTY keyboard for navigation and input. In fact, when we handed the BlackBerry Torch to a friend who is a die-hard BlackBerry user, he immediately commented about how he felt right at home using the device and liked the various navigation options (touchscreen, trackpad, and keyboard). 

The old browser found on other BlackBerry smartphones was slow and lacked many of the features we've seen on other smartphones today. We tested the new browser side-by-side with the browser found on the BlackBerry Bold 9700 from AT&T. The new browser was noticeably faster at loading pages and it also displayed them more accurately.

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When browsing the web, you have the option to surf in landscape or portrait mode. Assuming the phone is closed, the phone's accelerometer will automatically rotate the web browser to match the orientation of the phone. If you extend the screen to reveal the keyboard, the phone will automatically revert to portrait mode.

Overall the Torch performed well, though there were a few times when we had to wait a moment for the phone to respond.

Although we appreciate the multimedia offerings that RIM has included on this phone, the BlackBerry Torch's screen held things back a bit: In comparison to many of today's other popular smartphones, the Torch's screen is smaller (measuring 3.2-inches) and supports a lower resolution (480 x 360). Overall, videos looked okay, but they weren't anywhere near as pretty as they are on the iPhone 4, HTC EVO 4G, or one of today's other large touchscreen phones.  

We were pleased with the quality of outdoor images taken with the BlackBerry Torch's 5 megapxiel camera. Indoor shots using the flash weren't quite as good as those taken outdoors because the flash tended to wash out a close-range subject and it was difficult to keep the camera steady and avoid motion blur.

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During our time with the BlackBerry Torch, the screen definitely attracted some fingerprints, though they didn't appear to interfere with the phone's performance. Viewing the screen outdoors under direct sunlight was similar to our experience with most of the other smartphones we've reviewed lately—it's a little difficult to see the screen due to reflections, but overall, things are still readable. Overall call quality was good, though the phone did get a bit warm during one of our long calls.

As with all phones, battery life is sure to vary depending on how much you use the phone and its capabilities. RIM claims you should expect up to 5.5 hours of talk time and up to 18 days of standby time from the BlackBerry Torch's lithium-ion battery.

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