It has been a little over a year since the first gen BlackBerry Torch 9800 came out. The Torch was a monumental change of pace for BlackBerry, since it was RIM’s first handset to pack in both a dedicated keyboard and touchscreen together. But while the original BlackBerry Torch 9800 had a lot going for it, its OS was buggy and its display subpar. Fortunately, the new BlackBerry Torch 9810 addresses all of the issues we had with the original Torch.
The BlackBerry Torch 9810 packs in a 3.2″ display with a 640 x 480 resolution and 253ppi. This display is a bit on the small side in comparison to many other smartphones on the market, but it’s also an excellent display, with vivid colors, sharp visuals, good viewing angles, and it’s also able to get plenty bright. This display is a significant improvement over the 9800′s display with its low-end 480×360 resolution.
The keyboard on the 9810 is pretty much the same as with its predecessor. That is that the keyboard is comfy, with good tactile feedback, but a bit on the cramped side since there are no space in between keys and the keypad area is a bit smallish. Overall though, it’s a very good keyboard. If you’re not in the mood to use the physical keyboard, you can always use the Torch’s onscreen keyboard to type out messages. The onscreen keys are a bit on the small side, but the onscreen keyboard still manages to be pretty nice and responsive to use.
Under the hood, the Torch is now running a 1.2GHz processor, which is also a significant improvement over the 624Mhz processor that was inside its predecessor. RIM has upgraded the system to 8GB of on-board memory. This extra horsepower enables the BlackBerry Torch 9810 to offer the kind of fluid and responsive experience that its predecessor lacked. Well, that and the fact that it’s running the new BlackBerry 7 OS, all have helped make the 9810 a much more enjoyable phone to operate.
The BlackBerry 7 OS does not look all that different to the BlackBerry 6 OS, but it’s a lot more stable and lag-free. That said, BlackBerry has brought some significant new features to the 7 OS, like smoother fluid graphics – thanks to Liquid Graphics Technology, a faster web browsing experience, support for NFC, and voice-activated universal search. Otherwise, BlackBerry OS 7 packs in all of the aspects we loved about OS 6, and that includes excellent social networking for Twitter and Facebook, great instant messaging integration, push notifications, and a straightforward user interface.
As far as apps are concerned, the Torch comes with minimal bloatware. Some of the included apps include Documents To Go for creating and editing Microsoft office Documents, the ever so popular BBM (BlackBerry Messenger). BlackBerry Protect for securing your smartphone remotely, Music Storefront powered by Amazon, Slacker, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, and more.
BlackBerry App world is also ready to go out of the box. BlackBerry App World currently offers a solid catalog of apps, with most of the major players there already. That said, BlackBerry’s apps still tend to not be the slickest of the smartphone app platforms.
The web browsing experience in BlackBerry OS 7 has been greatly improved. Pinch to zoom no longer feels like an effort, and web sites render smoothly. Web sites also load quicker than on its predecessor, although not as quick as we’d like for a device running on a 4G network.
The BlackBerry Torch 9810 sports a 5MP camera with HD recording capabilities and a 4X digital zoom and auto focus. The camera is a major improvement over the Torch 9800′s camera in terms of quality. Pictures tend to be sharp with vibrant colors. The flash on the camera is pretty good too and doesn’t wash out the subject the way so many other camera phones do. HD video recording on the camera is also solid. Overall, don’t let the low 5MP spec scare you, the Torch 9810 has one of the better camera phones out there.
Call Quality on the BlackBerry Torch 9810 is very good. We could hear callers loud and clear, and they said the same of us.
The Torch 9810 claims a battery life of up-to 6.5 hours, or a whopping 12.8 days on standby. So far we’ve been able to use the Torch 9810 throughout the day and we can still manage to get home with it having some charge left. This kind of battery life is an improvement over most Android phones and the iPhone.
With the new BlackBerry Torch 9810, it seems like BlackBerry has really listened to their customers feedback. The device addresses all of the issues we had with the first Torch. In a nutshell, it’s everything the original Torch should have been. The 9810 performs better and sports both an improved display and camera. Overall, as far as smartphones are concerned, the Torch 9810 offers the best of both worlds, without real compromise – and that is a touchscreen with a significant amount of real estate, combined with a solid tactile keyboard. That said, the BlackBerry 7 OS might not offer any spiffy widgets, nor does it offer the slickest smartphone GUI, but it does offer top notch social networking and messaging integration- all in an easy to use, straightforward interface package that business women and men alike, will appreciate. The BlackBerry Torch 9810 for AT&T is available in a choice of white or black for $489, off of contract for just $19.99 with a two year contract.
The Good: Solid build quality, excellent display, good performance with smooth and responsive OS, excellent social media integration + messaging experience, great call quality
The Bad: Keyboard is a bit cramped, not the slickest user interface around, no front-facing camera