BlackBerry Torch 9810 review: Another sturdy handset that isn’t flimsy
BlackBerry markets this phone as “perfect for professionals who want to balance their work and personal lives.” This is the exact impression I was given while reviewing this handset. The work is covered with Blackberry’s tried and true email and enterprise integration, which we failed to see in our review of the BlackBerry PlayBook. Preloaded on the Torch 9810 is MobileLife Family Organizer application that allows families to share and manage their calendars, lists and a family journal. Although having recent widespread outages and huge competition by Apple and Google’s Android mobile platform, BlackBerry is striving to stay in the game. With a fleet of 4G handsets like the Torch 9810 (9800 is the predecessor) they hope to stay in the running. The BlackBerry Torch 9810 is equipped with a 3.17-inch TFT VGA capacitive touchscreen display, a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a 1.2-GHz single-core processor and a 5-megapixel camera capable of recording 720p HD video.
This is definitely a higher end blackberry device in terms of build quality. The phone feels solid in hand with a grooved pattern on back to offer traction. The back cover of the phone won’t pick of finger prints or noticeable scratches. The keypad is generously spaced enabling a pleasant and quick typing experience. Text messaging and chatting through Google Talk was a breeze and a lot less of a hassle than with an all touchscreen phone. As a person who has longer finger nails, it was still a cinch to type even with my thumbs I have to hand it to Blackberry, its QWERTY keyboards are the best in the business. The keys are also backlit for low light situations, a good feature to have that many earlier Blackberry’s have lacked. Given that the Torch is a slider phone, it has a smooth sliding mechanism that doesn’t feel like it will loosen and break in short time.
The biggest improvement that I’ve noticed is the amazing screen. Icons and text are markedly improved in sharpness and resolution. Wallpapers for the home screen and photos look smooth. The touchscreen is very responsive, I would say it is even on par with my current personal device, a Droid X2. I found myself using the touchscreen more for non-typing duties, making the Blackberry experience overall less of a bother. The lock and mute buttons are the same as other Torch models. The mute button also doubles as the pause button for the music player. It is a much sleeker solution as opposed to older low-end Blackberry’s that had rubbery media keys and the silence key crammed at the top.
The BlackBerry 7 OS is their best software yet when compared to past versions. This is my first experience with the new software and I have to say while a lot of things are familiar there are significant changes that die-hard BlackBerry fans will appreciate. The first thing I noticed was the touch swipe through of icons on the home screen that are in labeled sections. This definitely saves time from having to page through your applications to search for what you use frequent (and yes there is a frequent section for apps).
You can now also manage your connections and set your alarm through the touch drop down on the status bar.
The vastly improved WebKit browser is definitely a step in the right direction but it has some flaws. When comparing it to mobile Safari for iOS it falls behind in rendering ability. It’s acceptable for searching and reading from major news websites but not ideal for visiting the full sites. I experienced frustration when trying to load the full site due to wanting to read the comments (often not available in the mobile versions of news websites). This major flaw is another reason people may not opt for a BlackBerry as a personal device.
Universal search works smoothly and even has voice search that is now common on many other devices. I’ve used it for a variety of searches and it was correct each time and had no trouble recognizing my voice. You can search your own arsenal of applications, BlackBerry App World and your media. Where was this before when I was using BlackBerry as a primary device?
Performance and Battery Life
With the 1.2 GHz single-core processor it is certainly snappier when switching apps and scrolling through web pages. Still this processor cannot and does not make rendering of photos or YouTube videos better. For example, the photos other page elements on CNN’s mobile site are horribly pixellated. I tried several other major mobile sites and they were the same way. This shows that it’s the stock browser that cannot render the sites well, regardless of the processor.
Unfortunately, many consumers want a solid stock browser on their phone that is fast and can render websites in high resolution.This phone uses a 1270 mAH, Li-ion battery. I’ve charged the phone once and having been using it to browse various social networks, make calls and stream videos without losing more than 10% of the full charge. To save battery life I’m sure you could turn off 4G to squeeze out a bit more juice throughout the day but it isn’t totally necessary.
Call quality was stellar over T-Mobile’s 4G network indoors. Outdoors, I could be heard over the noise of downtown with buses and people going past. I didn’t experience any dropped calls.
Camera: video & stills
The output for the video is 720p. With a 5-megapixel camera, autofocus and LED flash it is enough for those looking to snap quick photos and who aren’t aspiring photographers. Do I think it compares in quality to the camera on the iPhone 4s?? Definitely naught and nor is it trying to compete with it on that level. I do think this is a significant step up from past BlackBerry’s which where notorious for terrible cameras producing either dark grainy images or washed out shots due to flash (on certain handsets).
Overall I think this phone is well suited to the business types who rely on email and need a sturdy handset that isn’t flimsy. It’s slick, classy and would fit nicely into any blazer, pants pocket or purse. As it stands, this phone doesn’t necessarily need a cover because it is a handsome phone and in no way overly delicate or prone to fingerprints (back plate). The price of the phone is steep at $250 on 2-yr. contract with a $50 mail-in rebate card.