RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800 review roundup (and cheese/font)

RIM BlackBerry 9800 Torch
By Richi Jennings. August 4, 2010.

As expected, Research In Motion has launched the RIM BlackBerry Torch (aka BlackBerry 9800) on an expectant world. Exclusively on AT&T in the U.S., this small slider offers overhauled software and a few unique features. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers can't decide if it's an iPhone killer or if it's too little too late.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention the "Cheese Or Font?" quiz...

(RIMM) (T)

Barbara Krasnoff affixes colors to the mast, with nails:

It's unlikely that the Torch will draw consumers away from their iPhones and Android devices ... [but] BlackBerry users won't be completely left in the dust. ... The new BlackBerry smartphone offers a 3.2-in., 480 x 360 resolution touch display. ... It's clear and fairly sharp ... [but] isn't really comparable to ... the iPhone 4 ... [or] the Droid X.


On the other hand ... I found it very comfortable to handle and use, and it is small enough to drop into a shirt pocket. ... The phone features a slide-out vertical keyboard. ... I was able to "thumb-type" short messages with relative ease. Current BlackBerry users should be pleased. ... The BlackBerry Torch 9800 could be their next smartphone.

Bonnie Cha dances around the issues:

Some were already calling [it] RIM's "iPhone killer" and ... we were certainly interested in seeing what RIM had to offer. After all, the BlackBerry OS 6 preview videos were intriguing enough. ... [We] found some things that we really liked and other aspects that left us a bit cold.


The handset itself is solid. ... The combination of the touch screen and physical QWERTY keyboard gives you the best of both worlds. ... But after using the high-res displays on smartphones like the Samsung Vibrant and Motorola Droid X, the Torch's screen looks pretty archaic. ... With a 624MHz processor, the smartphone felt a little underpowered and just didn't feel as snappy as some of the latest phones.

Ben Woods has views from across the pond:

The device will be available in the US from 12 August but a UK release date is yet to be confirmed, though ... a release announcement and carrier details for the EMEA region [are expected soon].


Among its other notable specs the device will offer ... 3.6 Mbps HSDPA ... 5-megapixel camera with flash ... GPS ... Wi-Fi b/g/n ... 4GB internal memory ... [plus] microSD card ... BlackBerry 6 OS ... Tethering. ... BlackBerry 6 OS [will] be present on all future handsets and offered as an upgrade for 9700 and 9105 owners.

My, Matt Cameron goes on and on:

[This] could redefine high-end consumer smartphones. ... [It] combines popular feature phone form factors and RIM’s shiny new revamped OS. ... BlackBerry Torch feels great to hold. ... The slider feels great, it won’t accidentally open and there’s absolutely no side-to-side wobbliness. ... Hard to imagine anyone dropping it when they are sliding the screen.


There seems to have been a lot of work put into the presentation and sorting of a lot of information without the feeling of a cluttered screen. ... [it] feels unmistakably BlackBerry even though it also feels brand new.

And Harry McCracken speaks of Ma T:

One fascinating sidelight of ... [the] launch was the degree to which it was a lovefest between RIM and AT&T. ... RIM and AT&T executives handed off between each other for the entire presentation, spending nearly as much time praising each other as they did bragging about the new handset. ... Strikingly different from any recent Apple event.


The linkage displayed this morning and the extent to which the Torch was pitched as an AT&T product as much as a RIM one felt new. ... Is it prepping itself for the day when it’s not the only US carrier that has the iPhone?

Here's Suzanne Kantra, making BBOS6 simple:

The new BlackBerry OS 6 is a big step up from ... previous BlackBerrys. ... The web browser handles HTML 5 and provides a tabbed layout. ... [It] also has pinch-to-zoom capabilities, which should come in handy. ... More social networking tools [allow] you to combine email, Facebook and Twitter updates. ... It's nice to see RIM recognizing that even business people may have lives.


But BlackBerry isn't operating in a vacuum ... most of the updates seem to be bringing it up to where the iPhones and Android devices were months ago. ... BlackBerry App World is still at a significant disadvantage versus the Android Marketplace and Apple iTunes in terms of available apps.

But Kevin C. Tofel brings us full-circle:

I suspect many current BlackBerry owners will be happy. That’s important because a recent survey of BlackBerry customers showed that 50 percent plan to defect. ... Indeed, much of what I saw today reminded me of my favorite Palm webOS features — efficient notifications, social network integrations and a clean interface.


RIM should be able to better retain its current base now that the operating system is comparable to its competitors, but what about attracting new users? ... “BlackBerry is hip again,” ... AT&T’s Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher ... said convincingly. He believes that teens want a keyboard like that of the Torch to enable their texting activities. He might be on to something there.

And Finally...

Tony Gambone's silly game: Cheese Or Font?

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itbw@richij.com.

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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