BlackBerry 9800 Torch Hands-On
Phone Scoop goes hands-on with the new BlackBerry 9800 Torch, the first to offer the BlackBerry 6 OS. Here's what we think.
The BlackBerry 9800 Torch is slick. It is about the same size as a 9650 Bold, perhaps a little thicker. RIM has always done a good job designing and manufacturing hardware, and the 9800 Torch looks to be no different. It feels solid in the hand and well built, with good materials.
Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.
The Torch has a 3.2-inch capacitive touch display that was responsive, though I found the 480 x 360 resolution to be a bit disappointing. RIM's competition -- i.e., Motorola, HTC, Apple -- is firing off HD displays with 800 x 480 pixels left and right. RIM needs to step up the display tech.
There are four physical keys underneath the display (Send, BlackBerry, Back, End), and an optical trackpad in between for on-screen navigation. The trackpad worked well, as did each of the buttons.
There are but two buttons on the right side of the device, one for the camera and a second for the volume controls. The were not awesome. The camera button, in particular, requires the user to press it way down into the side of the device. Way too much action. There are also the two now-familiar silence and lock keys built into the top edge of the 9800. They work fine. There are no buttons on the left or bottom edges of the 9800. The microUSB hatch for charging and data transfer is on the left.
The slider mechanism is solid, though sliding it open with your thumb is a pain in the butt. There isn't a good "catch" for your thumb to hold onto to help provide leverage when opening it. According to RIM, the 9800's screen won't react to your thumb if the slider is being opened, though I was unable to see that for myself. Once open, you have access to the full QWERTY keyboard.
The keyboard is excellent. I'd rate it one of the better keyboards from RIM in recent memory. The additional real estate provided by the slider form factor gave RIM a little extra breathing room. It put that extra space to good use when designing the keyboard.
I am generally don't like vertical slider phones. RIM has done as good a job as it can with the 9800. The hardware is top-notch. Nothing about it felt cheap or under-designed. Those who like the idea of a touch screen but still need that physical keyboard should be happy enough.
Here is a video tour of the 9800 and BlackBerry 6.
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