BlackBerry Torch 9850


The BlackBerry Torch 9850 is an exercise in risk taking. BlackBerrys have always been known for their excellent keyboards, but now Research in Motion (RIM) is switching up its game. The new Torch is one of the first BlackBerrys without a physical QWERTY keyboard and instead features only a handful of physical buttons to supplement an otherwise all touch-based control scheme. The Torch 9850 is pocketable and elegant where the Storm was bulky and boring looking. The Torch looks like a phone you want to own and hold, and thanks to improvements in the on-screen keyboard (sound the death knell for SurePress) and BlackBerry OS 7, it's a phone worth owning. Will it convert iPhone and Android users? Probably not. OS 7 isn't much of a radical change from that old and stuffy (though still serviceable) OS 6. But for you BlackBerry addicts who covet a large, high resolution display over a hardware keyboard, this is a fine 'Berry. In terms of specs, the Torch 9850 can compete. It has a 1.2GHz single core CPU, 768 megs of RAM, a 3.7" 800 x 480 capacitive multi-touch display and a 5 megapixel camera. Those are fine, though not cream of the crop specs for a higher end smartphone. Speed is good, though the phone sometimes feels a little slower than the Bold 9930, likely due to the fact it's pushing more pixels. When it comes to design, you get the idea we love this BlackBerry. It's narrower than the Bold 9930, not too thick and it feels great in the hand. It's a lovely looking phone with large chrome end caps and a soft-touch clad metal battery cover. It feels weighty but not overly heavy. We're not so in love with the mechanical front buttons, but the optical touchpad is a nice touch for those who still aren't accustomed to touching the screen. The headphone jack is on the left side (why must RIM put the jack on the side instead of the top?), and the top cap acts as the screen lock/unlock button. The volume keys and convenience keys are tiny rubbery blips that are hard to locate by tactile feel, and as a result we kept accidentally hitting the mute key that's centered between the volume keys when trying to change call volume. The BlackBerry Torch 9850 comes with RIM's updated OS 7 apps including the latest version of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) that integrates with other apps including the creepy-cool Wikitude AR browser. Social Feeds 2.0 provides the updates and notifications right at the top of the home screen that we've come to know and love. It works with messages, Facebook, Twitter, RSS and Podcasts. BlackBerry Maps is on board as is TeleNav, a full version of Documents To Go (create, view and edit MS Office docs), IM (Windows Live, Yahoo and Google Talk), BlackBerry Protect, Password Keeper and more. RIM's largely unchanged music player and video player are on board as well as their mobile YouTube app with upload capabilities. Sprint includes Sprint TV & Movies, Sprint Football Live, Sprint Radio, NASCAR, Amazon MP3 and Slacker Radio. Reception is a bit above average among Sprint phones, and call quality is very good. The speaker is startlingly loud, full and clear. The phone works on Sprint's CDMA network with EV-DO Rev. A 3G, and it has a SIM card slot for GSM roaming abroad on 2G and 3G networks (AT&T and T-Mobile are blocked here in the US). The SIM card slot is beside the battery door, and Sprint includes a SIM card. The microSD card slot is beside the SIM card slot (Sprint includes a 4 gig card), and you need not remove the battery to swap the microSD card. RIM's much improved web browser is a pleasure to use compared to the BlackBerry OS 6 web browser. Full HTML sites generally load properly and JavaScript is rendered with impressive speed according to the Sun Spider JavaScript benchmark. The Webkit browser is also more enjoyable thanks to the large (by RIM standards) 3.7" multi-touch display and 800 x 480 resolution. It's much easier to read chunks of text (after some zooming-in if it's a desktop site) compared to the VGA, 2.8" BlackBerry Bold 9930. The display is very sharp, bright and colorful, and we don't mind that it's plastic rather than glass (RIM went with plastic to reduce weight). What's missing? Adobe Flash, but the phone does mobile video playback just fine, and you'll see in-line mobile video versions of YouTube clips in web pages. The phone lacks a mobile hotspot feature, so you won't be able to use it as a wireless modem over WiFi. Now, how's the virtual keyboard. The Torch has the same on-screen keyboard as the BlackBerry PlayBook keyboard. It has square keys that use all possible screen real estate, and it's easy enough to use in landscape mode thanks to the end caps that turn into hand-holds. The screen is sensitive to input, so you barely need to hit the keys, and the phone did a good job of interpreting our input and making alternative suggestions. In portrait mode the keyboard is tight given the 3.7" display size and keyboard design. It's serviceable but not nearly as easy to use as it is in landscape mode. If you're a veteran BlackBerry user who types lots of texts and emails, it will take some time to adjust to the virtual keyboard. Is it worth it? Yes, if you frequently want to view full HTML web pages, Excel spreadsheets and videos. The Torch has a 5 megapixel autofocus camera (vs. extended depth of field on the Bold 9900/9930 and Torch 9810). The camera takes sharp and colorful photos that compete well with other smartphones on the market. It can shoot 720p video as well, and uses autofocus for video as well as still shots. The Torch's photos look more natural than the Bold 9930's thanks to the autofocus lens. The BlackBerry Torch 9850 uses the same 1230 mAh Lithium Ion battery as the Bold 9930. That's not a huge capacity battery, but RIM's focus on battery life over the years helped the relatively large screened smartphone last through the day on a charge with moderate to heavy use. WiFi usually drains smartphone batteries faster, but in the Torch 9850's case, we found the phone actually lasted a bit longer when WiFi was on and connected to our network. The Torch 9850 is an elegantly designed phone that's made with quality materials. It has a sharp and colorful display, decent battery life and good call quality. And it's worlds better than the BlackBerry Storm series of smartphones.



Price in USA $243

Price in UK £150

Price in EURO €180

Price in PAK Rs.27,000

Price in INDIA Rs.13,491


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