Last September RIM came to the table with the all-new BlackBerry Torch 9800, a device that was greeted with less than stellar reviews from the tech community and consumers alike. Just under a year later RIM launched what they hoped to be a powerhouse upgrade, a new phone, a new beginning. The big question is, did the Torch 9810 live up to its hype, did RIM deliver with the new BlackBerry 7 OS and hardware accelerated graphics? Follow me after the break and find out.
BlackBerry Torch 9810 Specifications
- Dimensions: Closed-4.37”|Open -5.83”x2.44”x0.57” (111mm|147mm x 62mm x 14.6 mm) Weight: 5.68oz/161g
- Display: 3.2″ Transmissive (TFT) LCD display – 640×480(VGA) pixel resolution – 253 dpi
- OS: BlackBerry® 7 OS – Experience the next-generation BlackBerry OS software that’s evolved to deliver a smoother and faster BlackBerry experience
- CPU: 1.2 GHz Processor
- System Memory: 768 MB RAM
- Storage: 8GB on-board memory, expandable Micro SD slot supports up to 32GB
- Camera: 5.0MP camera with flash, 720p HD video recording capability
- Audio: Support for MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, FLAC, OGG The
- Video: Support for MPEG4, H.263, MPEG4 Part 2 Simple Profile H.264, WMV
- Bluetooth: 2.1 + EDR
- Wireless Radio: Tri-band HSPA+, Quad-band GSM/EDGE
- Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Connectors: 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB
- Location and Orientation: GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
When hearing that RIM would be launching the sucessor to the Torch 9800, I was kind of hoping for a little bit of a design refresh, but that wasn’t what happened. On the Torch 9810, RIM decided to help you distinguish what a Torch 9800 is versus a Torch 9810 by changing the color and the battery door. RIM decided to go with an all grey approach on the new Torch and changed the battery door to more of a checkered pattern versus the “ribbed” backing on the Torch 9810. I’ll be first to say I really didn’t like the changes right away. After a few weeks the new color and battery door kind of grew on me. Other than these two minute changes, RIM decided to keep the design of the Torch 9810 as a carbon copy of its predecessor.
If you’re a Torch 9800 user and you’ve been looking for a phone that’s packing as many pixels it can in a 2.7” screen, look no further than the BlackBerry Torch 9810. The 9810 features a screen resolution of 640 X 480, a hefty upgrade from the previous device. While this device doesn’t have the highest pixel packed touchscreen on the market, It’s definitely a nice upgrade and has amazing color reproduction which presents you with a fantastic viewing experience.
If you’re an existing BlackBerry user you could probably skim over this section, as you’re quite familiar with the quality of keyboarded devices that make their way out of RIM. For those of you who haven’t used a BlackBerry, or maybe have only used a device like the Bold 9000 or 9900, I’ll come right out and say that this keyboard isn’t as good as those devices. Just like with the Torch 9800, I often found myself hitting my thumbs on the screen’s bezel and the side walls of the keyboard tray, but I guess that’s why they’ve put both a touch screen keyboard and a physical keyboard, the best of both worlds. After using the Torch 9810 for over a month I was able to become quite proficient at using the physical keyboard. But I still manage to hit my thumbs on the bezel and I still find it hinders my productivity having to slide out they keyboard every time I want to send a lengthy email, short messaging was always done with the on screen keys.
On the Torch 9810, as many may know, RIM included both a physical keyboard and an onscreen variant. Now, most of RIMs attempts at creating a usable onscreen keyboard haven’t been met with much fanfare, but I’m happy to say things are different this time around. RIM has fully revamped the layout and style of the virtual keyboard on the Torch 9810. The new layout allows for less thumb movement, giving you greater accuracy when smashing that screen, BBMing till the sun goes down. One issue I found, while it wasn’t a design flaw or an issue with the keyboard itself, was that my thumbs didn’t take very well to the screen size. With the sliding keyboard, RIM was forced to make a smaller screen, which caused me to make a few more errors than I would on a device with a 3.5” or higher screen size. Overall this is the best touch screen keyboard of the Torch slide series.
For years we’ve been crying for RIM to up the horsepower on the CPU in their smartphones, and well, they’ve finally listened. The Torch 9810 features an 1.2 ghz Snapdragon CPU. The new processor allows the phone to continue throughout the day with almost no slowdown or lock ups. Combined with the new BlackBerry 7 OS, they’ve been able to save you time and let you truly multitask as your BlackBerry works in the background.
The BlackBerry Torch 9810 features the same 5 MP camera that was found in the Torch 9800, with one significant change and that is the video quality. The Torch 9810 is capable of recording high-definition video in 720p. I found the recording capabilities to be fairly good, and line up with the competition.
BlackBerry 7 Operating System
With the introduction of the BlackBerry Torch 9810, RIM also introduced the world to its newest operating system, the BlackBerry 7 OS. The BlackBerry OS 7 is RIM’s fastest and most responsive user interface to ever hit a BlackBerry handheld. The new OS takes advantage of the built in dedicated GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to deliver what RIM has dubbed “liquid graphics”, definitely a deserving title. RIM has also given the BlackBerry 7 OS a much-needed visual upgrade, replacing the outdated stock icons with new colorful, fully-redesigned icons. But while the performance of the new OS is quite evident, it’s hard for me not to think that this is truly just an upgraded BlackBerry 6 which is the same as the previous BlackBerry 4, 4.5 , and 5 operating systems. By RIM using the same core operating system the legacy issues we’ve been seeing are still there as RIM pushes the aging OS further and further. Things like the infamous hourglass are still present, and while it shows up much…much less then on previous BlackBerrys, it’s still there reminding you of previous generations. Let me continue and break down different areas of the new operating system, follow me below.
OS responsiveness and graphics
As I stated before the BlackBerry 7 operating system is RIM’s most fluid and responsive SmartPhone OS shipped to date. With the operating system tapping into the new hardware on the Torch 9810, RIM has been able to provide a much needed user experience upgrade. Things that would have previously taken minutes to complete now take seconds and can often be completed in the background as you power on to another task. One example of the new power would be after a reboot. Previous to BlackBerry 7, accessing your media on the external Micro SD after a device reboot would lend your BlackBerry useless as the device indexes the media to provide you with a better experience accessing your music. Well, with BlackBerry 7 you are now able to let the device index your media and still go in and listen to your favorite tune as it works away in the background.
Something that users of other operating systems have been spoiled with has now made its way to BlackBerry 7, voice search. On the Torch 9810, featuring BlackBerry 7, you are able to search your device with your voice and I must say it works very well. Even when I’m in a loud environment the voice search is still able to understand what I’m asking it to search for.
Documents to Go Premium
One would expect that a BlackBerry, a device built around business users, would have a lot of business features. While it does, one thing it’s always been missing was a fully featured document editor. With BlackBerry 7 (and QNX) that is a thing of the past. The new operating system features a fully functional copy of Documents to go, an application that is fully compatible to Word, Excel, and Power Point, letting you create, edit, and share documents right from your BlackBerry 7 device. On a Torch 9810 equipped with a powerful processor and the Docs to Go suite, searching a 500 page document is done in seconds and with ease, giving me more time to play some Roller Coaster Rush 3D.
Now this is where things really start to improve and that is with the new BlackBerry 7 browser. I’ve been told by RIM that the browser that they’ve built for the Torch 9810 is about 40% faster than the one found on the Bold 9780 and about 100 times faster than the browser on any BlackBerry OS 5 enabled device. The new browser has eliminated almost all checker boarding, something that has pained BlackBerry users for many years prior. Also, RIM has enhanced the HTML5 rendering engine to bring you impressive results on webpages built on the new standard. While experiencing this new browser on a full-touch device is a bit more enjoyable due to the extra screen real estate, this enhancement is a much-welcomed addition to my BlackBerry experience.
On the Torch 9810 RIM states that you will get 6.5 hrs of talk time and 12.8 hrs of stand-by time, and with our testing we found them to be quite accurate with me getting 5.7 hrs of talk time and 36hr of standby time. I still felt that they could have tried to cram a little more battery in there, being a power user I often find myself carrying around two batteries.
While looking from the outside you may think that RIM merely slapped a new coat of paint onto the exciting Torch 9800 hardware and labeled it as a Torch 9810, and if this was your thoughts, shame on you. The Torch 9810 is once again a huge leap from what they’ve been able to provide in the past, giving new and existing BlackBerry users a refresh to a popular device. But nothing is perfect. While the Torch 9810 is a huge, and I mean a huge, upgrade from all the previous BlackBerry smartphone’s, it’s still not the best smartphone on the market in terms of hardware. But it all comes down to what you need and what in a smartphone.