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printed October 25, 2014
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Review: BlackBerry Torch 9850

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

RIM has really stepped it up with the display on the Torch 9850. It measures a hearty 3.7 inches across the diagonal and packs in 800 x 480 pixels. That's the same as most Android phones. Add in RIM's "Liquid Graphics" and what you have is the best display I've seen on a BlackBerry. Performance factors such as brightness, clarity, and detail matched what's available on the Bold 9900/9930, but the added real estate give the Torch 9850 a clear advantage over its smaller-screened brethren. This is the best display to come from RIM. Period.

Signal

The 9850 runs on Sprint's 3G network (nope, no WiMax). Signal performance was typical for a Sprint device in NJ. The signal indicator consistently showed a medium-strength signal (2 bars), but the 9850 maintained only a tenuous connection to Sprint's network. It slipped down to 1X a few times (mostly when indoors), and lost Sprint's network entirely a few times. The 9850 also missed a few calls and dropped one. Keep in mind, Sprint's network is not as strong in my neck of the woods. I also took the Torch 9850 into Manhattan, where its network performance showed no improvement. This isn't great news, because Sprint's network is typically more robust in the city that never sleeps.

Sound

Despite the signal performance, the Torch 9850 is a great voice phone. The earpiece volume was excellent, which means calls in areas with lots of background noise are easy to hear. I didn't hear any hissing or other interference in the background. The speakerphone also performed very well. Set to maximum volume, it was louder than the 9900/9930's speakerphone and quite useful for tackling conversations while running around the room performing other tasks. The clarity and quality of speakerphone calls were also good. Ringers and alert tones can be set to near-concert volumes, so you'll always know when you've got a call or message. The vibrate alert was plenty strong.

Battery

The Torch 9850 does about as well as any other touch phone when it comes to battery life. A lot depends on how you use it, of course, but in general you're not going to have any problems getting through an entire day from a single charge. The device easily lasted through two days of light use. Heavy use of email or watching videos will definitely impact battery life. RIM says the Torch 9850 offers 6.8 hours of talk time. In my tests, I found that assessment to be accurate. Bottom line: Charge it every night, and bring a charger if you're going to be out of town for a few days.

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