Review: BlackBerry Torch 9850
The Torch 9850 is a wholly new piece of hardware from Research In Motion. It has a similar size and shape to the Torch 9800/9810, but loses the vertical sliding form factor and is instead a monoblock touch phone.
I find the design quite appealing. It doesn't stray from RIM's professional line of smartphones. It sticks to the standard motif of black mixed with several shades of gray, plus some chrome accents tossed in for good measure. It's a sharp looking handset. The quality of the materials is good, and it comes off feeling like a quality piece of hardware.
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All the edges are rounded and have a comfortable feel. When in your hand, most of the surfaces your skin touches are rubber or plastic. The battery cover has a grippy, soft-touch paint job that plants it firmly in your palm. Given the small footprint, it will easily slip into a pocket, and be just as easily retrieved.
Most of the front surface is consumed by the display. Just below the display are the standard set of BlackBerry controls: Send key, BlackBerry key, optical track pad, Back key and End/Power key. The keys are smaller on the Torch 9850 than on other BlackBerries, but are raised nicely from the surface with a good shape and feel to them. These buttons all have good travel and feedback, and are easy to use.
The microUSB port is on the left side of the Torch 9850, all by itself. Looking for the volume toggle and other controls? They are all on the right side of the phone. Both key sets are teensy slivers of rubber, though they have a well-defined hump. The user-assignable convenience key is closest to the bottom of the Torch 9850. Its default action is for the camera, and it is a two-stage button. The stages are not clearly defined and travel and feedback aren't that great. The volume toggle is above the camera key. It is protected by rubber, but easy to find and use. The 3.5mm headset jack is closest to the top, and works with most normal stereo headphones.
The lock and silence buttons have been combined into a single control in the center of the top edge of the Torch 9850. There's no physical indicator for the button and the top edge is perfectly smooth, so it might be hard to find when in a hurry to silence a ringing phone. Travel and feedback was satisfactory.
The slot for the memory card is located under the battery cover. The cover comes off with no problems, and the card can be swapped out without powering down the 9850.