CIO - The word "BlackBerry" used to bring to mind mostly images of bulky, brick-like handhelds and busy executives in tailored suits. Today, BlackBerry smartphones are all over the place, in the hands of teenagers, parents, businessmen and everyone in between. And they come in all shapes and sizes.
BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion's (RIM) latest creation, the BlackBerry Torch 9800, sports an entirely new form factor for the company: It's the first BlackBerry "slider" device with both a touch display for on-screen navigation and typing, as well as a full QWERTY BlackBerry keyboard/optical trackpad . And it's meant to bridge the gap between messaging-oriented users, which comprise the bulk RIM's user base today, and people who desire a first-rate multimedia experience along with their e-mail/texting/IM needs.
In contrast to some of the initial Torch reviews already out, this evaluation delves deeper. I dedicated more than a week to really use the Torch, completely customize it, and thoroughly test its performance under the daily rigors of a BlackBerry "Power User."
The additional time to review made a definite difference. My impression of the device changed entirely after only a couple of days with the Torch and after I added my various enterprise- and Web-mail accounts, downloaded a handful of apps and tweaked my settings, etc.
Overall, I've really come to appreciate the BlackBerry Torch 9800 hardware. But unfortunately, the software, RIM's brand new mobile OS, BlackBerry 6, leaves something to be desired, to say the least, despite a number of valuable enhancements and feature-additions.
Keep moving for specifics. And check out my BlackBerry Torch unboxing video and my pre-review post, "BlackBerry Torch 9800: 10 Things You Didn't Know About RIM's New Slider."
BlackBerry Torch 9800 Hardware: The GOOD
One of the first things you notice after spending some time with the BlackBerry Torch 9800 is that the hardware feels quite solid; it's durable, yet not too heavy at 5.68 ounces--about an ounce more than both RIM's BlackBerry Bolds 9000 and 9650; the slider mechanism is smooth and there's very little horizontal-"give" while open vertically, which typically bodes well for its durability over time; the battery cover sits snuggly in place, even if you attempt to wiggle it around; and there's little-or-no squeaking or "creaking" if you squeeze and/or press various sections of the device, which hasn't necessarily been the case with other recent BlackBerry devices--expect for the top panel and trackpad, but I'll get to that in the next section.
The BlackBerry Torch is great looking open and closed, with its shiny silver edges, glistening 3.2-inch screen, and "fretted" BlackBerry keyboard. And though the device is a slider, it's not overly large; it packs a lot of functionality into a relatively svelte package. Even the most image-conscious user should be pleased with how the Torch appears in hand.
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